Japanese Era


In Japan, two main calendar systems are most commonly used alongside each other.


One of them is the Common Era, which has been used in many counties around the world. This year is 2017.

The other is the Japanese Era. Based on this calendar system, this year is "Heisei 29". "Heisei" is written in Kanji characters as follows:


Heisei in Kanji characters


Japanese Era Name Likely to Change Soon

A new law allowing the current Emperor, 83 years old, to retire and hand over his throne to his eldest son was passed.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that it had been decided that the Emperor would step down on April 30, 2019 (Heisei 31). From the next day, May 1, 2019, his eldest son, the current Crown Prince Naruhito will become the new Emperor, and from the same date, a new Japanese Era name will be used.


Parallel Use of Two Calendar Systems

In a daily life, when we have to say or write a calendar year or a date, in most of cases it doesn't matter whether we use the year or the date in the Common Era or in the Japanese Era. I usually say or write a year or a date according to the Common Era, for example, "2017 nen" in Japanese.


Yet, on some occasions, you are specifically asked to write the date in the Japanese Era. Then, I have to check newspapers or find something that shows the year based on the Japanese Era, or have to ask other people.


Feel Older

Japanese people sometimes talk about during which era they were born. I was born during the Showa Era, which is the previous Era, and the sound of Showa makes me feel old.


In about a year and a half, I will become a person from the era before the previous era. How am I going to feel then? Definitely, old generation.


Updated on December 5, 2017

written by Hiromi Honma

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