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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
1868Meiji1153
1869Meiji2152
1870Meiji3151
1871Meiji4150
1872Meiji5149
1873Meiji6148
1874Meiji7147
1875Meiji8146
1876Meiji9145
1877Meiji10144
1878Meiji11143
1879Meiji12142
1880Meiji13141
1881Meiji14140
1882Meiji15139
1883Meiji16138
1884Meiji17137
1885Meiji18136
1886Meiji19135
1887Meiji20134
1888Meiji21133
1889Meiji22132
1890Meiji23131
1891Meiji24130
1892Meiji25129
1893Meiji26128
1894Meiji27127
1895Meiji28126
1896Meiji29125
1897Meiji30124
1898Meiji31123
1899Meiji32122
1900Meiji33121
1901Meiji34120
1902Meiji35119
1903Meiji36118
1904Meiji37117
1905Meiji38116
1906Meiji39115
1907Meiji40114
1908Meiji41113
1909Meiji42112
1910Meiji43111
1911Meiji44110
1912Taishō1109
1913Taishō2108
1914Taishō3107
1915Taishō4106
1916Taishō5105
1917Taishō6104
1918Taishō7103
1919Taishō8102
1920Taishō9101
1921Taishō10100
1922Taishō1199
1923Taishō1298
1924Taishō1397
1925Taishō1496
1926Shōwa195
1927Shōwa294
1928Shōwa393
1929Shōwa492
1930Shōwa591
1931Shōwa690
1932Shōwa789
1933Shōwa888
1934Shōwa987
1935Shōwa1086
1936Shōwa1185
1937Shōwa1284
1938Shōwa1383
1939Shōwa1482
1940Shōwa1581
1941Shōwa1680
1942Shōwa1779
1943Shōwa1878
1944Shōwa1977
1945Shōwa2076
1946Shōwa2175
1947Shōwa2274
1948Shōwa2373
1949Shōwa2472
1950Shōwa2571
1951Shōwa2670
1952Shōwa2769
1953Shōwa2868
1954Shōwa2967
1955Shōwa3066
1956Shōwa3165
1957Shōwa3264
1958Shōwa3363
1959Shōwa3462
1960Shōwa3561
1961Shōwa3660
1962Shōwa3759
1963Shōwa3858
1964Shōwa3957
1965Shōwa4056
1966Shōwa4155
1967Shōwa4254
1968Shōwa4353
1969Shōwa4452
1970Shōwa4551
1971Shōwa4650
1972Shōwa4749
1973Shōwa4848
1974Shōwa4947
1975Shōwa5046
1976Shōwa5145
1977Shōwa5244
1978Shōwa5343
1979Shōwa5442
1980Shōwa5541
1981Shōwa5640
1982Shōwa5739
1983Shōwa5838
1984Shōwa5937
1985Shōwa6036
1986Shōwa6135
1987Shōwa6234
1988Shōwa6333
1989Heisei132
1990Heisei231
1991Heisei330
1992Heisei429
1993Heisei528
1994Heisei627
1995Heisei726
1996Heisei825
1997Heisei924
1998Heisei1023
1999Heisei1122
2000Heisei1221
2001Heisei1320
2002Heisei1419
2003Heisei1518
2004Heisei1617
2005Heisei1716
2006Heisei1815
2007Heisei1914
2008Heisei2013
2009Heisei2112
2010Heisei2211
2011Heisei2310
2012Heisei249
2013Heisei258
2014Heisei267
2015Heisei276
2016Heisei285
2017Heisei294
2018Heisei303
2019Heisei312
2019Reiwa312
2020Reiwa321
2021Reiwa330
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: 2021年10月19日

Most common short format: 2021.10.19

  • Names of eras are usually composed of 2kanji.

Long format with era name: 平成33年10月19日

Short format with era name: H33.10.19

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: 2021年10月19日(火)

Short format with week day: 2021.10.19(火)

National holidays

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

2022

DatesName in EnglishName in Japanese
01 JanuaryGANJITSUNew year's Day
10 JanuarySEIJIN NO HIMajority Day
11 FebruaryKENKOKU KINENBINational Foundation Day
23 FebruaryTENNÔ TANJÔBIBirthday of the Emperor
21 MarchSHUNBUN NO HIVernal Equinox Day
22 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
18 JulyUMI NO HIMarine Day
19 SeptemberKEIRÔ NO HIRespect for the Aged Day
23 SeptemberSHÛBUN NO HIAutumnal Equinox Day
24 SeptemberKYÛJITSUCompensation day
10 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
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