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Japanese traditional calendar

Rokuyō (days of the week)

The rokuyō (六曜) are a series of six days that predict whether there will be good or bad fortune during that day. The rokuyō are still commonly found on Japanese calendars today, and are often used to plan weddings and funerals. The rokuyō are also known as the rokki (六輝). In order, they are:

  • 先勝 (senshō) - Good luck before noon, bad luck after noon
  • 友引 (tomobiki) - Bad things will happen to your friends. Funerals avoided on this day.
  • 先負 (senbu) - Bad luck before noon, good luck after noon
  • 仏滅 (butsumetsu) - Most unlucky day. Weddings best avoided.
  • 大安 (taian) - Most lucky day. Good day for weddings.
  • 赤口 (shakkō) - The hour of the horse (11 am - 1 pm) is lucky. The rest is bad luck.

Traditional month names

The name of month: (pronunciation, literal meaning)

  • January - 睦月 (mu tsuki, the cordial month)
  • February - 如月 or 衣更着 (kisaragi)
  • March - 弥生 (yayoi, the thick growth's month)
  • April - 卯月 (uzuki, The Hare's month)
  • May - 皐月 or 早月 or 五月 (satsuki, the early month)
  • June - 水無月 (mina tsuki or mina zuki, waterless month)
  • July - 文月 (fumi zuki, litterary month)
  • August - 葉月 (ha zuki, leafy month)
  • September - 長月 (naga tsuki, long month)
  • October - 神無月 (kan'na zuki or kamina zuki, godless month), known in Izumo province as 神有月 (kamiari zuki, god month) because the Shinto deities are supposed to gather at the Izumo Grand Shrine that month.
  • November - 霜月 (shimo tsuki, frost month)
  • December -師走 (shiwasu, teachers run; it is named so because even teachers are busy at the end of a year.)

Japanese era name

Japanese era name (年号, nengō, lit. year name) is a common calendar scheme used in Japan to count years. For example, 2004 is Heisei 16 years.

Like similar systems in East Asia, the era name system was originally derived from Chinese Imperial practice, although the Japanese system is independent from the Chinese or Korean calendar systems. Unlike other similar systems, the Japanese era name is still in use. Government offices usually require era names and years for official papers.

Sometimes an era name is expressed with the first letter of the romanized name. For example, S55 means Showa 55 years. With 64 years, Showa is the longest era.

Modern era names

With the modernization of Japan after the ascension of the Meiji Emperor and now under current Japanese law since 1979, it has become practice to change era names only upon occasion of imperial succession. Also, the deceased emperor will thereafter be referred to as his corresponding era name posthumously. Under current law, only males can assume the throne.

In the Japanese language, the current emperor on the throne is almost always referred to as Tennō Heika (天皇陛下, His Majesty the Emperor) or rarely and less formally as Kinjō Tennō (今上天皇, current emperor) and even more rarely, if ever by his name Akihito. To call the current emperor by the current era name Heisei even in English would be a faux pas as it is and will be his posthumous name. This causes great confusion not only in other languages, but also for Japanese as he is known throughout the world only as Akihito. Also, his father the 124th emperor is called Hirohito throughout the world, but is always called the Showa Emperor in Japan.

In modern practice, the first year of a reign (元年 gannen) starts immediately upon the emperor's ascension to the throne, but always ends on December 31st. Subsequent years follow the Western calendar. Consequently, 1989 is known as both "Showa 64" and "Heisei 1", although technically Showa 64 ended on January 7th with Hirohito's death.

Historic era names

Historically however, prior to the Meiji Restoration, era names were changed on many different occasions such as celebration, major political incidents, natural disasters, and so on, but the emperors posthumous name never took the name of an era. Incidentally, on modern official papers, those who were born prior to the Meiji era did not write the era name in which they born, but wrote Edo period (though now no one born over 130 years ago in that time period is still alive now).

Conversion table from eras to Gregorian calendar years

  • 645 大化 Taika
  • 650 白雉 Hakuchi
  • 654 (Discontinued)
  • 672 白鳳 Hakuhō
  • 686 朱鳥 Shuchō
  • 686 (Discontinued)
  • 701 大宝 Daihō or Taihō
  • 704 慶雲 Keiun
  • 708 和銅 Wadō
  • 715 霊亀 Reiki
  • 717 養老 Yōrō
  • 724 神亀 Jinki
  • 729 天平 Tempyō
  • 749 天平感宝 Tempyō-kampō
  • 749 天平勝宝 Tempyō-shōhō
  • 757 天平宝字 Tempyō-hōji
  • 765 天平神護 Tempyō-jingo
  • 767 神護景雲 Jingo-keiun
  • 770 宝亀 Hōki
  • 781 天応 Ten'ō
  • 782 延暦 Enryaku
  • 806 大同 Daidō
  • 810 弘仁 Kōnin
  • 824 天長 Tenchō
  • 834 承和 Jōwa or Shōwa
  • 848 嘉祥 Kajō
  • 851 仁寿 Ninju
  • 854 斉衡 Saikō
  • 857 天安 Tennan
  • 859 貞観 Jōgan
  • 877 元慶 Genkei or Gangyō
  • 885 仁和 Ninna
  • 889 寛平 Kanpyō
  • 898 昌泰 Shōtai
  • 901 延喜 Engi
  • 923 延長 Enchō
  • 931 承平 Jōhei or Shōhei
  • 938 天慶 Tengyō
  • 947 天暦 Tenryaku
  • 957 天徳 Tentoku
  • 961 応和 Ōwa
  • 964 康保 Kōhō
  • 968 安和 Anna
  • 970 天禄 Tenroku
  • 973 天延 Ten'en
  • 976 貞元 Jōgen
  • 978 天元 Tengen
  • 983 永観 Eikan
  • 985 寛和 Kanna
  • 987 永延 Eien
  • 988 永祚 Eiso
  • 990 正暦 Shōryaku
  • 995 長徳 Chōtoku
  • 999 長保 Chōhō
  • 1004 寛弘 Kankō
  • 1012 長和 Chōwa
  • 1017 寛仁 Kannin
  • 1021 治安 Jian
  • 1024 万寿 Manju
  • 1028 長元 Chōgen
  • 1037 長暦 Chōryaku
  • 1040 長久 Chōkyū
  • 1044 寛徳 Kantoku
  • 1046 永承 Eishō or Eijō
  • 1053 天喜 Tengi
  • 1058 康平 Kōhei
  • 1065 治暦 Jiryaku
  • 1069 延久 Enkyū
  • 1074 承保 Jōhō
  • 1077 承暦 Shōryaku or Jōryaku
  • 1081 永保 Eihō
  • 1084 応徳 Ōtoku
  • 1087 寛治 Kanji
  • 1094 嘉保 Kahō
  • 1096 永長 Eichō
  • 1097 承徳 Jōtoku
  • 1099 康和 Kōwa
  • 1104 長治 Chōji
  • 1106 嘉承 Kajō
  • 1108 天仁 Tennin
  • 1110 天永 Ten'ei
  • 1113 永久 Eikyū
  • 1118 元永 Gen'ei
  • 1120 保安 Hōan
  • 1124 天治 Tenji
  • 1126 大治 Daiji
  • 1131 天承 Tenshō or Tenjō
  • 1132 長承 Chōshō or Chōjō
  • 1135 保延 Hōen
  • 1141 永治 Eiji
  • 1142 康治 Kōji
  • 1144 天養 Ten'yō
  • 1145 久安 Kyūan
  • 1151 仁平 Nimpei or Nimpyō
  • 1154 久寿 Kyūju
  • 1156 保元 Hōgen
  • 1159 平治 Heiji
  • 1160 永暦 Eiryaku
  • 1161 応保 Ōhō
  • 1163 長寛 Chōkan
  • 1165 永万 Eiman
  • 1166 仁安 Ninnan
  • 1169 嘉応 Kaō
  • 1171 承安 Shōan or Jōan
  • 1175 安元 Angen
  • 1177 治承 Jishō or Jijō
  • 1181 養和 Yōwa
  • 1182 寿永 Juei
  • 1184 元暦 Genryaku
  • 1185 文治 Bunji
  • 1190 建久 Kenkyū
  • 1199 正治 Shōji
  • 1201 建仁 Kennin
  • 1204 元久 Genkyū
  • 1206 建永 Ken'ei
  • 1207 承元 Jōgen
  • 1211 建暦 Kenryaku
  • 1213 建保 Kempō
  • 1219 承久 Jōkyū
  • 1222 貞応 Jōō
  • 1224 元仁 Gennin
  • 1225 嘉禄 Karoku
  • 1227 安貞 Antei
  • 1229 寛喜 Kanki or Kangi
  • 1232 貞永 Jōei
  • 1233 天福 Tenpuku
  • 1234 文暦 Bunryaku
  • 1235 嘉禎 Katei
  • 1238 暦仁 Ryakunin
  • 1239 延応 En'ō
  • 1240 仁治 Ninji
  • 1243 寛元 Kangen
  • 1247 宝治 Hōji
  • 1249 建長 Kenchō
  • 1256 康元 Kōgen
  • 1257 正嘉 Shōka
  • 1259 正元 Shōgen
  • 1260 文応 Bun'ō
  • 1261 弘長 Kōchō
  • 1264 文永 Bun'ei
  • 1275 建治 Kenji
  • 1278 弘安 Kōan
  • 1288 正応 Shōō
  • 1293 永仁 Einin
  • 1299 正安 Shōan
  • 1302 乾元 Kengen
  • 1303 嘉元 Kagen
  • 1306 徳治 Tokuji
  • 1308 延慶 Enkyō or Enkei
  • 1311 応長 Ōchō
  • 1312 正和 Shōwa
  • 1317 文保 Bunpō
  • 1319 元応 Gen'ō
  • 1321 元亨 Genkyō or Genkō
  • 1324 正中 Shōchū
  • 1326 嘉暦 Karyaku
  • 1329 元徳 Gentoku
  • 1331 元弘 Genkō
  • 1334 建武 Kemmu
  • 1336 延元 Engen
  • 1340 興国 Kōkoku
  • 1346 正平 Shōhei
  • 1370 建徳 Kentoku
  • 1372 文中 Bunchū
  • 1375 天授 Tenju
  • 1381 弘和 Kōwa
  • 1384 元中 Genchū
  • 1390 明徳 Meitoku
  • 1394 応永 Ōei
  • 1428 正長 Shōchō
  • 1429 永享 Eikyō
  • 1441 嘉吉 Kakitsu
  • 1444 文安 Bunnan
  • 1449 宝徳 Hōtoku
  • 1452 享徳 Kyōtoku
  • 1455 康正 Kōshō
  • 1457 長禄 Chōroku
  • 1460 寛正 Kanshō
  • 1466 文正 Bunshō
  • 1467 応仁 Ōnin
  • 1469 文明 Bunmei
  • 1487 長享 Chōkyō
  • 1489 延徳 Entoku
  • 1492 明応 Meiō
  • 1501 文亀 Bunki
  • 1504 永正 Eishō
  • 1521 大永 Daiei
  • 1528 享禄 Kyōroku
  • 1532 天文 Tembun or Temmon
  • 1555 弘治 Kōji
  • 1558 永禄 Eiroku
  • 1570 元亀 Genki
  • 1573 天正 Tenshō - the name was suggested by Oda Nobunaga
  • 1592 文禄 Bunroku
  • 1596 慶長 Keichō
  • 1615 元和 Genna
  • 1624 寛永 Kan'ei
  • 1644 正保 Shōhō
  • 1648 慶安 Keian
  • 1652 承応 Jōō
  • 1655 明暦 Meireki
  • 1658 万治 Manji
  • 1661 寛文 Kambun
  • 1673 延宝 Empō
  • 1681 天和 Tenna
  • 1684 貞享 Jōkyō
  • 1688 元禄 Genroku
  • 1704 宝永 Hōei
  • 1711 正徳 Shōtoku
  • 1716 享保 Kyōhō
  • 1736 元文 Gembun
  • 1741 寛保 Kampō
  • 1744 延享 Enkyō
  • 1748 寛延 Kan'en
  • 1751 宝暦 Hōreki
  • 1764 明和 Meiwa
  • 1772 安永 An'ei
  • 1781 天明 Tenmei
  • 1789 寛政 Kansei
  • 1801 享和 Kyōwa
  • 1804 文化 Bunka
  • 1818 文政 Bunsei
  • 1830 天保 Tempō
  • 1844 弘化 Kōka
  • 1848 嘉永 Kaei
  • 1854 安政 Ansei
  • 1860 万延 Man'en
  • 1861 文久 Bunkyū
  • 1864 元治 Genji
  • 1865 慶応 Keiō
  • 1868 明治 Meiji - Mutsuhito, the Meiji Emperor
  • 1912 大正 Taishō - Yoshihito, the Taisho Emperor
  • 1926 昭和 Shōwa - Hirohito, the Showa emperor
  • 1989 平成 Heisei - Akihito, the reigning emperor

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