In many cases - especially for books less than about thirty or forty years old, the information I have given so far may be enough to establish the publication details of a given book. However, there are still several points which I have not covered. The first one is the Japanese dating system.

So far, I have shown how Western dates are shown in the Japanese writing system. But there is also a Japanese calendar. Since 1873, it has followed the Western (Gregorian) calendar as far as the days and months go, but the year is still frequently given in the old way.

The old way is based on "periods", each period covering the rule of an emperor. I'll just look at the last four periods, since that's as much as most people will have to deal with. If you want the complete list, going back to the year dot, CLICK HERE.

For a year-by-year conversion chart, CLICK HERE. Note that the last year of the previous emperor is the first year of the next one. For example, the last year of the Shouwa period (Shouwa 64) lasts up until January 7th, 1989 (the day Emperor Hirohito died) and the first year of the Heisei period begins on January 8th. Apart from that, each year (since 1873) ends on December 31st, just like the Western calendar. Here are a few examples of dates following this system:

If you can decipher these correctly as January 15th, Meiji 30 (=1897), March 12th, Shouwa 25 (=1950) and June 20th, Heisei 10 (=1998) you're doing OK! Remember, sometimes the numbers are shown differently; 10 can be shown as "one zero", 25 can be shown as "two five", etc., but if you've got this far you've got as far as I'm going with dates. There is more to say on the subject (for instance, there are different symbols for the numbers which crop up occasionally, especially in older books), but the information given here should make it possible to date with accuracy the vast majority of books the average person is likely to come across (discounting, of course, those in which - for one reason or another - the date isn't actually given!). 

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