Collection Studio 4.72
[ Datum: 31 März 2016 ]
In spite of usage of Gregorian calendar nowadays, before 1873 in Japan specific Japanese calendar was used. However on coins, banknotes issue years are still marked in Japanese.
Main peculiarity of Japanese calendar: it is divided on eras of Japanese emperor's reign. For example year 1980 is equal to year 55 of Syowa (Shōwa) era; year 2008 is equal to year 20 of Heisei era.
First of all we have to analyze a structure of the Japanese year printed on coins or banknotes:
1 — era name (on given image: Heisei);
Please note that on old coins right-to-left direction of hieroglyphs can be. The simple way to detect direction of writing: just find "Nen" hieroglyph (#3 on scheme). It is always placed in the end of writing.
Era name (nengō)
As mentioned above, every Japanese era is started at the beginning of the reign of next emperor. So we need to know an exact name of era with its starting year. Following table will help us to do it:
Complete list of emperors you can see in Wikipedia.
So as result of this step we know year of era start. For our example (see first image or scheme) it is Heisei, so era starts in 1989.
Year within era
Next step is identifying of year within Japanese era. Sometimes on modern coins of high value year within era is written with usage of Arabic digits, but in other cases we need to translate Japanese digits into Arabic. Look at the table below, there are Japanese hieroglyphs used for indication of year:
Several nuances you should know about:
In our example on the topmost image year is equal to 14.
This is simple. We just need to add year within era to era's starting year and then substract 1, because the start of the era is a first year, not zero.
So, in our example it is 1989 + 14 - 1 = 2002.