I'm taking the book-collector's point of view here, so when I say "first edition" I mean the
first printing of the first edition. This is almost always the printing that has the most value to a collector, and knowing whether a given book is the first printing or not is of prime importance. The first thing to look for is the symbol:

This symbol cropped up in number 2 of the list of Japanese symbols I have just given, and it signifies a reprint. For example:

Here the top line of text (or the right-hand column, if it is printed vertically) reads, after the date "first printing publication" (i.e., the first printing was published/distributed on June 20th, 1984). The second line says "second printing [or reprinting] publication" (i.e., the second printing, or reprint, was published/distributed on July 15th, 1984). This symbol always indicates a reprint edition.

The next thing to look for is any number above one that is not part of the date. For example, in the above case, instead of using the symbol

the publisher could have used a number. If the number is in Arabic numerals you will have no difficulty, but often Japanese numbers will be used. For example:

This shows the same information as the previous example, but in a slightly different way.

The telltale sign is usually, if there is
any number (apart from the number one) after the end of the date and before the symbol for "edition" or "publication" in the last line of print (i.e., the bottom line if the text is printed left to right, or the left-hand column if it is printed vertically) that number indicates that the book is a later printing.

OK, now let's go back to Japanese dates. There is a dating system that is still in common use that we need to look at.

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