Sunday, April 6, 2014

Western calendar & Japanese calendar;

 (posted; Japanese culture page) 

Watching the birth-date of my husband's driver's license the other day; I thought about the Japanese calendar and Western calendar we use without paying much attention.

*Japanese calendar*
According to the Japanese traditional era name, this year is "Heisei 平成26”.  Starting in the year 645,  Era (here) is changed at the time of the Emperor's demise. (there were exceptions in the old days). I was born in the year 30 during Showa-era(昭和)(red circle in the form below)  From the western calendar, it is in the year 1955. 
      After the Meiji Restoration (1868), We have 4 eras (明治、大正、昭和、平成).
       So, we have Heisei (平成)-Emperor now
                                                昭和 era; 1926~ 1988     平成 era;1988~    (this year is 平成26)

  We see these 2 types of forms when we need to register or for the formalities
(Japanese calender above↑;  western calender (西暦) below↓)

*Both of them are used in a funny way*
I found that for the driver's license one's birth year is written in Japanese era. And the expiration date for all the products or medicines, written in Christian era.  After around my generation, we memorize both eras without any problems. For my parents' generation, I don't think they have western era in their mind much.  Funny enough,  I haven't even thought about my late parents' birth year with Christian era.
Era is considered as a beginning of new chapter and used like,  "good old Showa-songs" or "Heisei-depression".

Before I try to write this post, I asked my 11 year old student about her birth year. She is so intelligent knowing both calenders.  After I explained, She seemed delighted to learn what the Christian era and our era means. 
I hope both "Japanese calendar, Western calendar" and "Christian era, Japanese era" make sense to you.
 Chief cabinet secretary at the time and later Prime        minister  Mr. Obuchi announcing the new era "Heisei, 
  平成".    For us, this year is  平成 26 and also 2014.

I remember waiting the announcement wondering the name of the new age.

Thank you so much for reading this long post!  
           I'm linking this post to Our world Tuesday;


  1. Since living here in the U.S., I have harder time converting western year into Japanese year.
    I grew up in Showa era, so it felt strange when I heard Heisei as name of new era at first. By the way, Obuchi san....natsukashii :-)

  2. born in the year 30 i.e. 1955. hmmm. i'm trying to wrap my brain around using two different calendars.

  3. Hello Miyako, the two calendars sounds confusing to me.. I do like the Chinese characters. Thanks for sharing! Enjoy your day and the week ahead!

  4. Dearest Theresa & Eileen;
    Thank you so much for both of you kind comments for my confusing post(^^;)
    What I wished the most was to let the foreign friends know that we have Heisei (平成)-Emperor now. Haha, I added that part.

    Love and hugs, xoxo Miyako*

  5. Dearest Miyako,
    That is indeed quite confusing and it would be impossible for keeping any medical records that way. So understandably that they use the Roman calendar.

  6. Dearest Miyako san!
    I never thinking myself it was not hard to thinking until today.
    I will like to be Japanes way ha ha
    Otosama & Miyako san mo Okaradani okiotukete kudasai mase!

  7. Interesting. Now you have me wondering just 'what era' my birth year would be written in the Japanese calendar.



  8. So interesting! I had no idea that you used two calendars. I guess the Western World has become the standard for most of the world now probably to make things easier for commerce.

  9. Hi dear Miyako. Interesting post today. I an only just about manage ONE Calendar, so I don't know wat it would be like wit two! Some of te letters aren't working on my omputer. Sorry about tat!! :(

  10. i wasn't aware that you used 2 calendars. i find the use of "era" very interesting.
    i enjoyed this post so much!!

  11. Ah, these days I have trouble keeping up with my age on one calendar, let alone two!! But, having worked for a Japanese company, I was aware of the two calendars and found it very interesting! Wonderful post as always, Miyako!! Hope you have a great week!

  12. Miyako ~ East meets west ~ Very informative post about your world ~ we are all connected and to love to hear about the differences too ~ xoxo

    artmusedog and carol (a creative harbor)

  13. Such an interesting post. I never thought that you would use both calendars.

  14. I do not know how you do that -- keeping two dates in mind sounds almost impossible. But I am so happy to know this fact about your country. I would imagine that older people were quite confused when the new calendar was introduced. Change is hard the older you get.

  15. Dear Miyako

    I did not know that Japan uses two calendars for months and years! I think Israel does the same.

    You are a little younger than I am, but I was also a 50's child! :)

  16. Dear Miyako,

    Interesting post and thanks for sharing this.
    Always great to learn more about your fascinating Japan.
    Wishing you a happy week dear friend


  17. it will take me some time to catch up. it gets pretty confusing to me who only knew one calendar :)

    Worth a Thousand Words

  18. so much history attached to your calendar; you need to do much research or have wonderful memory to retain the information

  19. Very interesting, I have trouble keeping the dates straight with one calendar!

  20. So very interesting! And so cool that you and your husband's generation know both so well.

  21. Very interesting and informative post. Like the others, I have difficulty keeping up with one calendar, it would be confusing to keep up with two. But this is still good to know.