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The Imperial Calendar

Japan uses two different calendars to count years, the western calendar and the Imperial Calendar. The western calendar is the most commonly used in everyday life, but the Imperial calendar is still used very often in administrative documents.

The Imperial Calendar groups years under eras, that are grouped under periods and sub-periods.
Changes in periods correspond mainly to changes or governments, as well as their places of establishment.

Eras correspond to the reign of each emperor, from the beginning of its reign until his death.
For the first time in the history of the imperial lineage, the Emperor Akihito will abdicate on April, 30th and will set the Heisei era to an end still living.

Summary chronology of the Japanese eras
DatesName in EnglishName in Japanese
Until 399Prehistory先史時代 SENSHIJIDAI
According to the Shinto religion, the lineage of the emperors starts in -600BC, with the legendary Emperor Jinmu, direct descendant of Amaterasu, goddess of the Sun.
400 - 1198Antiquity古代 KODAI
400 - 707Yamato Period大和時代 YAMATO JIDAI
707 - 781Nara Period奈良時代 NARA JIDAI
781 - 1198Heian Period平安時代 HEIAN JIDAI
1198 - 1611feodal Period (Middle age)中世 CHŪSEI
1185 - 1333Kamakura Period鎌倉時代 KAMAKURA JIDAI
1333 - 1573Muromachi Period室町時代 MUROMACHI JIDAI
1573 - 1603Azuchi Momoyama Period安土桃山時代 AZUCHI MOMOYAMA JIDAI
1611 - 1867Premodern Period近世 KINSEI
1603 - 1867Edo Period江戸時代 JIDAI
1868 - NowModern Period - Contemporary Period近代・現代 KINDAI - GENDAI
1868 - 1912Meiji Era明治時代 MEIJI JIDAI
1912 - 1926Taishō Era大正時代 TAISHŌ JIDAI
1926 - 1989Shōwa Era昭和時代 SHŌWA JIDAI
1989 - 2019Heisei Era平成時代 HEISEI JIDAI
2019 - NowReiwa Era令和時代 REIWA JIDAI
Correspondence between western calendar and the imperial calendar
Western yearEraYear in the eraAge
1868Meiji1152
1869Meiji2151
1870Meiji3150
1871Meiji4149
1872Meiji5148
1873Meiji6147
1874Meiji7146
1875Meiji8145
1876Meiji9144
1877Meiji10143
1878Meiji11142
1879Meiji12141
1880Meiji13140
1881Meiji14139
1882Meiji15138
1883Meiji16137
1884Meiji17136
1885Meiji18135
1886Meiji19134
1887Meiji20133
1888Meiji21132
1889Meiji22131
1890Meiji23130
1891Meiji24129
1892Meiji25128
1893Meiji26127
1894Meiji27126
1895Meiji28125
1896Meiji29124
1897Meiji30123
1898Meiji31122
1899Meiji32121
1900Meiji33120
1901Meiji34119
1902Meiji35118
1903Meiji36117
1904Meiji37116
1905Meiji38115
1906Meiji39114
1907Meiji40113
1908Meiji41112
1909Meiji42111
1910Meiji43110
1911Meiji44109
1912Taishō1108
1913Taishō2107
1914Taishō3106
1915Taishō4105
1916Taishō5104
1917Taishō6103
1918Taishō7102
1919Taishō8101
1920Taishō9100
1921Taishō1099
1922Taishō1198
1923Taishō1297
1924Taishō1396
1925Taishō1495
1926Shōwa194
1927Shōwa293
1928Shōwa392
1929Shōwa491
1930Shōwa590
1931Shōwa689
1932Shōwa788
1933Shōwa887
1934Shōwa986
1935Shōwa1085
1936Shōwa1184
1937Shōwa1283
1938Shōwa1382
1939Shōwa1481
1940Shōwa1580
1941Shōwa1679
1942Shōwa1778
1943Shōwa1877
1944Shōwa1976
1945Shōwa2075
1946Shōwa2174
1947Shōwa2273
1948Shōwa2372
1949Shōwa2471
1950Shōwa2570
1951Shōwa2669
1952Shōwa2768
1953Shōwa2867
1954Shōwa2966
1955Shōwa3065
1956Shōwa3164
1957Shōwa3263
1958Shōwa3362
1959Shōwa3461
1960Shōwa3560
1961Shōwa3659
1962Shōwa3758
1963Shōwa3857
1964Shōwa3956
1965Shōwa4055
1966Shōwa4154
1967Shōwa4253
1968Shōwa4352
1969Shōwa4451
1970Shōwa4550
1971Shōwa4649
1972Shōwa4748
1973Shōwa4847
1974Shōwa4946
1975Shōwa5045
1976Shōwa5144
1977Shōwa5243
1978Shōwa5342
1979Shōwa5441
1980Shōwa5540
1981Shōwa5639
1982Shōwa5738
1983Shōwa5837
1984Shōwa5936
1985Shōwa6035
1986Shōwa6134
1987Shōwa6233
1988Shōwa6332
1989Heisei131
1990Heisei230
1991Heisei329
1992Heisei428
1993Heisei527
1994Heisei626
1995Heisei725
1996Heisei824
1997Heisei923
1998Heisei1022
1999Heisei1121
2000Heisei1220
2001Heisei1319
2002Heisei1418
2003Heisei1517
2004Heisei1616
2005Heisei1715
2006Heisei1814
2007Heisei1913
2008Heisei2012
2009Heisei2111
2010Heisei2210
2011Heisei239
2012Heisei248
2013Heisei257
2014Heisei266
2015Heisei275
2016Heisei284
2017Heisei293
2018Heisei302
2019Heisei311
2019Reiwa311
2020Reiwa320
Change of era

As new reigns usually don't start on January, 1st, it is common that the first year of an era is the last year of the preceding era.

YearEnd of eraBeginning of era
191245th year of Meiji era until July, 29th1st year of Taishō era from July, 30th
192615th year of Taishō era until December, 24th1st year of Shōwa era from December, 25th
198964th year of Shōwa era until January, 7th1st year of Heisei era from January, 8th
201931th year of Heisei era until April, 29th1st year of Reiwa era from Avril, 30th
Notation
  • As in most cases in Asian countries, dates are always written in the order Year - Month - Day.

Most common long format: 2020年08月08日

Most common short format: 2020.08.08

  • Names of eras are usually composed of 2kanji.

Long format with era name: 平成32年08月08日

Short format with era name: H32.08.08

For the most recent eras, Unicode characters have been created: Meiji, Taishō, Shōwa, Heisei. A character has also been reserved for the Reiwa era.
However, they are not often used. The first letter of the era name are more commonly used instead (M, T, S, H, R).

  • Week days are often abbreviated to the first character: 月, 火, 水, 木, 金, 土, 日

Long format with week day: 2020年08月08日(土)

Short format with week day: 2020.08.08(土)

National holidays

National holidays that fall on a Sunday are followed by a "compensation" day.

2020

DatesName in EnglishName in Japanese
01 JanuaryGANJITSUNew year's Day
13 JanuarySEIJIN NO HIMajority Day
11 FebruaryKENKOKU KINENBINational Foundation Day
23 FebruaryTENNÔ TANJÔBIBirthday of the Emperor
24 FebruaryKYÛJITSUCompensation day
20 MarchSHUNBUN NO HIVernal Equinox Day
21 MarchKYÛJITSUCompensation day
29 AprilSHÔWA NO HIBirthday of Emperor Hirohito
30 AprilKYÛJITSUCompensation day
03 MayKEMPÔ KINENBIConstitution Memorial Day
04 MayMIDORI NO HIGreenery Day
05 MayKODOMO NO HIChildren's Day
06 MayKYÛJITSUCompensation day
20 JulyUMI NO HIMarine Day
21 SeptemberKEIRÔ NO HIRespect for the Aged Day
22 SeptemberSHÛBUN NO HIAutumnal Equinox Day
23 SeptemberKYÛJITSUCompensation day
12 OctoberTAIIKU NO HIHealth and Sports Day
03 NovemberBUNKA NO HICulture Day
04 NovemberKYÛJITSUCompensation day
23 NovemberKINRÔ KANSHA NO HILabor Thanksgiving Day
24 NovemberKYÛJITSUCompensation day

2021

DatesName in EnglishName in Japanese
01 JanuaryGANJITSUNew year's Day
11 JanuarySEIJIN NO HIMajority Day
11 FebruaryKENKOKU KINENBINational Foundation Day
23 FebruaryTENNÔ TANJÔBIBirthday of the Emperor
20 MarchSHUNBUN NO HIVernal Equinox Day
21 MarchKYÛJITSUCompensation day
29 AprilSHÔWA NO HIBirthday of Emperor Hirohito
30 AprilKYÛJITSUCompensation day
03 MayKEMPÔ KINENBIConstitution Memorial Day
04 MayMIDORI NO HIGreenery Day
05 MayKODOMO NO HIChildren's Day
19 JulyUMI NO HIMarine Day
20 SeptemberKEIRÔ NO HIRespect for the Aged Day
23 SeptemberSHÛBUN NO HIAutumnal Equinox Day
24 SeptemberKYÛJITSUCompensation day
11 OctoberTAIIKU NO HIHealth and Sports Day
03 NovemberBUNKA NO HICulture Day
04 NovemberKYÛJITSUCompensation day
23 NovemberKINRÔ KANSHA NO HILabor Thanksgiving Day
24 NovemberKYÛJITSUCompensation day

Vocabulary
Western calendar西暦 (せいれき) SEIREKI
Imperial calendar神武天皇即位紀元 (じんむ てんのう そくい きげん) JINMU TENNŌ SOKUI KIGEN
  • Complete name, lit. "Calendar following the enthronement of the Emperor Jinmu"..
  • 皇紀 (こうき) KŌKI
  • Abbreviated name.
  • Era年号 (ねんごう) NENGŌ
  • In the common language.
  • 元号 (げんごう) GENGŌ
  • More technical term.
  • Period時代 (じだい) JIDAI
    Change of era改元 (かいげん) KAIGEN
    1st year of an era元年 (がんねん) GANNEN
  • The first year is generally written in kanji rather that with the figure 1.
  • National holiday祝日 (しゅくじつ) SHUKUJITSU
    Holiday休日 (きゅうじつ) KYŪJITSU
  • Non-working day.
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    Kazoku Ecrire le japonais
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    Ecrire le japonais
    Kazoku Ecrire le japonais