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Japanese Studies Visual Resources: Japanese Calendrical Systems

Online calendars

Nengo Calc
This site provides online and offline tools for the conversion of Japanese dates into their Western equivalents. Based on Tsuchihashi's "Chronological Tables" and the recent work by Zoellner. This database provides corresponding Japanese and Western dates, as well as the cyclic sign of the date and year in kanji.

Understanding Japanese Calendrical Systems

A note about calendrical systems in Japan:

Years can be written in Japanese using two different formats:

1. Japanese imperial era names (nengō 年号)

2. Western calendar years (properly called Gregorian calendar years; e.g., 2005).

Japanese imperial era names refer to the name of the Emperor followed by the year in kanji (Chinese characters) or Arabic numerals and the kanji for "year" (nen). For example, 2005 is Heisei 17, and can be written in Japanese as 平成17年 or 平成十七年.

The Western calendar was introduced in Japan in 1873, but not all publications have used it. Click here for a useful Japanese Year converter.

This guide to Japanese Image Resources at Duke includes notes on which resources use only the Japanese calendar, which use only the Western calendar, and which use both.


"Kagaku suru kazoku..." cartoon from Osaka Puck, 1941. From Manga ni egakareta Meiji, Taishō, Shōwa, p. 193.

This Web Guide to Japanese Image Resources at Duke was created by Alison Raab, an MSLS student at the School of Information and Library Science, at UNC Chapel Hill. It was created as a project for JPN 291, Japanese Studies Research Methods, taught at Duke University by Dr. Troost, the Japan/Korea Librarian and Head of International and Area Studies at Perkins Library, Duke.