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Japanese – Western Calendar Year Conversion

Japanese – Western Calendar Year Conversion

In Japan most people know and use the Western calendar year (西暦 seireki), Gregorian Calendar or Western Common Era (AD – Anno Domini). It gradually gained popularity since the Meiji Era, in particular after World War II.

However, you often need to be familiar with the traditional Japanese calendar year when dealing with official documents and forms.

The official Japanese calendar year is used side by side with the Western calendar. It reflects the actual counting of years the current Emperor’s dynasty, how many years has been reigning together with the Emperor period name.

What year is it now in the Japanese calendar?

We are (at the time of publishing this article) in 2019, Reiwa (R) 1, the beginning of the Reiwa Era.

You can easily convert any Western year to Japanese calendar year or from Japanese to Western using the tables below.

Jump to Reiwa Era: May 2019 – Present
Jump to Heisei Era: January 1989 – April 2019
Jump to Showa Era: December 1926 – January 1989
Jump to Taisho Era: July 1912 – December 1926
Jump to Meiji Era: October 1868 – July 1912


 

When does the traditional Japanese Year change?

Every time an Emperor steps down and changes, a new Emperor begins to rule. Consequently, a Japanese era name starts and the number of years restarts from 1 again. It’s basically the era and year of the reign of the current Emperor.

The Japanese calendar is based on the Japanese Imperial Year (皇紀 kōki or 紀元 kigen) used from the foundation of Japan in 660 BC by the legendary Emperor Jimmu. Curiosity: the old Imperial year has officially been abandoned but still in use by the Shinto.

The reading of the Japanese (年号 nengō or 元号 gengō, “year name“) is “Era Name” followed by the “Regnal Year“. Please note that quite often the Era name is replaced by the initial.
For example, we are now in Reiwa 1 or (R) 1 which started May 1st, 2019.

The change of year will be every year on January 1st. Some people mistakenly think the change of year takes place one exact year from when the Emperor started to reign.

 


 

Which are the Japanese Modern Era Names and Periods?

Emperor Era name of Modern Japan (from 1868) and the equivalent Western Calendar Years

Gregorian calendar year  Name of era Notes
(AD) Kanji Romanization Emperor & Period
1868 (from October 23rd) 明治 Meiji Emperor Meiji, 1868 – 1912
1912 (from July 30th) 大正 Taishō Emperor Taishō, 1912 – 1926
1926 (from December 25th) 昭和 Shōwa Emperor Shōwa, 1926 – 1989
1989 (from January 8th) 平成 Heisei Emperor Akihito, 1989 – 2019
2019 (from May 1st) 令和 Reiwa Emperor Naruhito, 2019 – present

 


Convert between Japanese and Western calendar year

Yoshihide Suga Reiwa era announcement

Reiwa Era (Emperor Naruhito) – From 1st of May 2019 to Present

Western Calendar Japanese Calendar
2023 Reiwa 5
2022 Reiwa 4
2021 Reiwa 3
2020 Reiwa 2
2019 Reiwa 1 (from May 1st)

 


 

Heisei Era (Emperor Akihito) – From 8th January 1989 to 30th April 2019

Western Calendar Japanese Calendar
2019 Heisei 31 (until April 30th)
2018 Heisei 30
2017 Heisei 29
2016 Heisei 28
2015 Heisei 27
2014 Heisei 26
2013 Heisei 25
2012 Heisei 24
2011 Heisei 23
2010 Heisei 22
2009 Heisei 21
2008 Heisei 20
2007 Heisei 19
2006 Heisei 18
2005 Heisei 17
2004 Heisei 16
2003 Heisei 15
2002 Heisei 14
2001 Heisei 13
2000 Heisei 12
1999 Heisei 11
1998 Heisei 10
1997 Heisei 9
1996 Heisei 8
1995 Heisei 7
1994 Heisei 6
1993 Heisei 5
1992 Heisei 4
1991 Heisei 3
1990 Heisei 2
1989 Heisei 1 (from January 8th)

 


 

Showa Era (Emperor Showa) – From December 25th 1926 to 7th January 1989

Western Calendar Japanese Calendar
1989 Showa 64 (until January 7th)
1988 Showa 63
1987 Showa 62
1986 Showa 61
1985 Showa 60
1984 Showa 59
1983 Showa 58
1982 Showa 57
1981 Showa 56
1980 Showa 55
1979 Showa 54
1978 Showa 53
1977 Showa 52
1976 Showa 51
1975 Showa 50
1974 Showa 49
1973 Showa 48
1972 Showa 47
1971 Showa 46
1970 Showa 45
1969 Showa 44
1968 Showa 43
1967 Showa 42
1966 Showa 41
1965 Showa 40
1964 Showa 39
1963 Showa 38
1962 Showa 37
1961 Showa 36
1960 Showa 35
1959 Showa 34
1958 Showa 33
1957 Showa 32
1956 Showa 31
1955 Showa 30
1954 Showa 29
1953 Showa 28
1952 Showa 27
1951 Showa 26
1950 Showa 25
1949 Showa 24
1948 Showa 23
1947 Showa 22
1946 Showa 21
1945 Showa 20
1944 Showa 19
1943 Showa 18
1942 Showa 17
1941 Showa 16
1940 Showa 15
1939 Showa 14
1938 Showa 13
1937 Showa 12
1936 Showa 11
1935 Showa 10
1934 Showa 9
1933 Showa 8
1932 Showa 7
1931 Showa 6
1930 Showa 5
1929 Showa 4
1928 Showa 3
1927 Showa 2
1926 Showa 1 (from December 25th)

 


 

Taisho Era (Emperor Showa) – From 12th July 1912 to 24th December 1926

Western Calendar Japanese Calendar
1926 Taisho 15 (until December 24th)
1925 Taisho 14
1924 Taisho 13
1923 Taisho 12
1922 Taisho 11
1921 Taisho 10
1920 Taisho 9
1919 Taisho 8
1918 Taisho 7
1917 Taisho 6
1916 Taisho 5
1915 Taisho 4
1914 Taisho 3
1913 Taisho 2
1912 Taisho 1 (from July 30th)

 


 

Meiji Era (Emperor Meiji) – From 23rd October 1968 to 29th July 1912

Western Calendar Japanese Calendar
1912 Meiji 45 (until July 29th)
1911 Meiji 44
1910 Meiji 43
1909 Meiji 42
1908 Meiji 41
1907 Meiji 40
1906 Meiji 39
1905 Meiji 38
1904 Meiji 37
1903 Meiji 36
1902 Meiji 35
1901 Meiji 34
1900 Meiji 33
(…) (…)
1868 Meiji 1 (from October 23rd)

 

Japanese-Imperial-era Japanese Imperial era

source: Wikipedia

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