Japanese Years:
They Change With the Emperor

Reign Years and Their Titles

For most official business, including registration of births, deaths, marriages, and transfer of one's residence records to a new town, years are recorded on Japanese records by the reign of the Japanese Emperor. 1998 is recognized as 1998 by nearly everyone in Japan, but it is also recognized as Heisei 10-nen on nearly all officially held Japanese records. (Heisei means calm, serene, composed and is/was the name chosen to represent emperor Akihito's reign, 10 signifies that this is the 10th year of his reign, and -nen represents the Japanese suffix for year).

The imperial family's and emperor's function within Japanese society is today largely symbolic, representing to some degree national unity. The imperial family and emperor, however, do not initiate or enact government policies and, by law, wield no political power in governmental matters. Periods preceding Emperor Akihito's Heisei reign period include the Showa, Taishou, Meiji, and Keiou periods.

Older Japanese who could be very helpful in guiding you in your search may find it easier to think of birth and death years in terms of these periods of reign, as they may tend to think of their own birth date in these terms rather than on the Western year system. Converting Western years to emperor reign years may throw a bit of an unanticipated curve ball into your research. However, this extra knowledge and understanding on our part may be a huge relief to the Japanese from whom we might seek assistance.

For further information on this topic click here.

The reign, the reign year, and the corresponding Western year are as follows:

Kaei 1 = 1848
Kaei 2 = 1849
Kaei 3 = 1850
Kaei 4 = 1851
Kaei 5 = 1852
Kaei 6 = 1853
Ansei 1 = 1854
Ansei 2 = 1855
Ansei 3 = 1856
Ansei 4 = 1857
Ansei 5 = 1858
Ansei 6 = 1859
Mannen 1 = 1860
Bunkyu 1 = 1861
Bunkyu 2 = 1862
Bunkyu 3 = 1863
Genji 1 = 1864
Keiou 1 = 1865
Keiou 2 = 1866
Keiou 3 = 1867
Meiji 1 = 1868
Meiji 2 = 1869
Meiji 3 = 1870
Meiji 4 = 1871
Meiji 5 = 1872
Meiji 6 = 1873
Meiji 7 = 1874
Meiji 8 = 1875
Meiji 9 = 1876
Meiji 10 = 1877
Meiji 11 = 1878
Meiji 12 = 1879
Meiji 13 = 1880
Meiji 14 = 1881
Meiji 15 = 1882
Meiji 16 = 1883
Meiji 17 = 1884
Meiji 18 = 1885
Meiji 19 = 1886
Meiji 20 = 1887
Meiji 21 = 1888
Meiji 22 = 1889
Meiji 23 = 1890
Meiji 24 = 1891
Meiji 25 = 1892
Meiji 26 = 1893
Meiji 27 = 1894
Meiji 28 = 1895
Meiji 29 = 1896
Meiji 30 = 1897
Meiji 31 = 1898
Meiji 32 = 1899
Meiji 33 = 1900
Meiji 34 = 1901
Meiji 35 = 1902
Meiji 36 = 1903
Meiji 37 = 1904
Meiji 38 = 1905
Meiji 39 = 1906
Meiji 40 = 1907
Meiji 41 = 1908
Meiji 42 = 1909
Meiji 43 = 1910
Meiji 44 = 1911
Meiji 45 = 1912
Taishou 1 = 1912
Taishou 2 = 1913
Taishou 3 = 1914
Taishou 4 = 1915
Taishou 5 = 1916
Taishou 6 = 1917
Taishou 7 = 1918
Taishou 8 = 1919
Taishou 9 = 1920
Taishou 10 = 1921
Taishou 11 = 1922
Taishou 12 = 1923
Taishou 13 = 1924
Taishou 13 = 1924
Taishou 14 = 1925
Taishou 15 = 1926
Showa 1 = 1926
Showa 2 = 1927
Showa 3 = 1928
Showa 4 = 1929
Showa 5 = 1930
Showa 6 = 1931
Showa 7 = 1932
Showa 8 = 1933
Showa 9 = 1934
Showa 10 = 1935
Showa 11 = 1936
Showa 12 = 1937
Showa 13 = 1938
Showa 14 = 1939
Showa 15 = 1940
Showa 16 = 1941
Showa 17 = 1942
Showa 18 = 1943
Showa 19 = 1944
Showa 20 = 1945
Showa 21 = 1946
Showa 22 = 1947
Showa 23 = 1948
Showa 24 = 1949
Showa 25 = 1950
Showa 26 = 1951
Showa 27 = 1952
Showa 28 = 1953
Showa 29 = 1954
Showa 30 = 1955
Showa 31 = 1956
Showa 32 = 1957
Showa 33 = 1958
Showa 34 = 1959
Showa 35 = 1960
Showa 36 = 1961
Showa 37 = 1962
Showa 38 = 1963
Showa 39 = 1964
Showa 40 = 1965
Showa 41 = 1966
Showa 42 = 1967
Showa 43 = 1968
Showa 44 = 1969
Showa 45 = 1970
Showa 46 = 1971
Showa 47 = 1972
Showa 48 = 1973
Showa 49 = 1974
Showa 50 = 1975
Showa 51 = 1976
Showa 52 = 1977
Showa 53 = 1978
Showa 54 = 1979
Showa 55 = 1980
Showa 56 = 1981
Showa 57 = 1982
Showa 58 = 1983
Showa 59 = 1984
Showa 60 = 1985
Showa 61 = 1986
Showa 62 = 1987
Showa 63 = 1988
Showa 64 = 1989
Heisei 1 = 1989
Heisei 2 = 1990
Heisei 3 = 1991
Heisei 4 = 1992
Heisei 5 = 1993
Heisei 6 = 1994
Heisei 7 = 1995
Heisei 8 = 1996
Heisei 9 = 1997
Heisei 10 = 1998

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Last updated March 7, 2003