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Japanese–Western Calendar Conversion

(This page revised August 11, 2021)

Reference Info Index | Glossopedia  ]


If you are trying to determine when a Japanese pen was made, you might be helped by the fact that some Japanese pen manufacturers applied date codes to their pens. At the same time, however, there is a stumbling block: the traditional Japanese calendar. As of this writing, among Japanese pen manufacturers, only Platinum and Hatanaka Kosiedo are known to have date coded their pens using the traditional Japanese calendar. It may in future be discovered, however, that other manufacturers did in fact date their pens using systems based on the traditional calendar. By the same token, if you know by other means, such as a letter or a sales receipt, the Japanese year in which a pen was made, you can convert that date to Western.

The Western calendar counts years in the Common Era, coinciding with the Gregorian calendar (西暦, seireki,), which designated the supposed year of Jesus’ birth as the year AD 1. The traditional Japanese calendar (皇紀, kōki; or 紀元, kigen), on the other hand, is based on the reign of the current emperor: when a new emperor ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne, a new era begins, and the counting of years starts over at 1. The first known branded Japanese fountain pens were made by Kiyozo Miyamoto, beginning in 1905, under the Oliver brand. The conversion tables on this page begin with 1901, which was Meiji 34.


2019–????: Reiwa Era, Emperor Naruhito

Akihito

Western Japanese Western Japanese

2021 Reiwa 3 2019 Reiwa 1 / Heisei 31
2020 Reiwa 2

1989–2019: Heisei Era, Emperor Akihito

Akihito

Western Japanese Western Japanese

2019 Heisei 31 / Reiwa 1 2003 Heisei 15
2018 Heisei 30 2002 Heisei 14
2017 Heisei 29 2001 Heisei 13
2016 Heisei 28 2000 Heisei 12
2015 Heisei 27 1999 Heisei 11
2014 Heisei 26 1998 Heisei 10
2013 Heisei 25 1997 Heisei 9
2012 Heisei 24 1996 Heisei 8
2011 Heisei 23 1995 Heisei 7
2010 Heisei 22 1994 Heisei 6
2009 Heisei 21 1993 Heisei 5
2008 Heisei 20 1992 Heisei 4
2007 Heisei 19 1991 Heisei 3
2006 Heisei 18 1990 Heisei 2
2005 Heisei 17 1989 Heisei 1 / Shōwa 64
2004 Heisei 16

1926–1989: Shōwa Era, Emperor Hirohito

Hirohito

Western Japanese Western Japanese

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

1912–1926: Taishō Era, Emperor Yoshihito

Yoshihito

Western Japanese Western Japanese

1926 Taishō 15 / Shōwa 1 1918 Taishō 7
1925 Taishō 14 1917 Taishō 6
1924 Taishō 13 1916 Taishō 5
1923 Taishō 12 1915 Taishō 4
1922 Taishō 11 1914 Taishō 3
1921 Taishō 10 1913 Taishō 2
1920 Taishō 9 1912 Taishō 1 / Meiji 45
1919 Taishō 8

1868–1912: Meiji Era, Emperor Mutsuhito

Mutsuhito

Western Japanese Western Japanese

1912 Meiji 45 / Taishō 1 1906 Meiji 39
1911 Meiji 44 1905 Meiji 38
1910 Meiji 43 1904 Meiji 37
1909 Meiji 42 1903 Meiji 36
1908 Meiji 41 1902 Meiji 35
1907 Meiji 40 1901 Meiji 34

Notes:
  1. Supposed, because Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Little), the monk who computed the date under the direction of Pope Gregory XIII, made an error. Scholarly calculation places Jesus’ birth in the spring of 6 BCE at the latest.  Return

The information in this article is as accurate as possible, but you should not take it as absolutely authoritative or complete. If you have additions or corrections to this page, please consider sharing them with us to improve the accuracy of our information.

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