Copyright
William Bramsen.

Japanese chronological tables, showing the date, according to the Julian or Gregorian calendar, of the first day of each Japanese month, from Tai-kwa 1st year to Mei-ji 6th year (645 A. D. to 1873 A. D.) With an introductory essay on Japanese chronology and calendars online

. (page 1 of 19)
Online LibraryWilliam BramsenJapanese chronological tables, showing the date, according to the Julian or Gregorian calendar, of the first day of each Japanese month, from Tai-kwa 1st year to Mei-ji 6th year (645 A. D. to 1873 A. D.) With an introductory essay on Japanese chronology and calendars → online text (page 1 of 19)
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JAPANESE CHRONOLOGICAL TABLES, '

SHOWING THE DATE, ACCOEDING TO THE JULIAN OR CtREOORIAN CALENDAR,
OF THE FIRST DAY OF EACH JAPANESE MONTH

From Tai-kwa 1st year to Mei-ji 6th year
(645 A.D. TO 1873 A.D.)



WITH AN INTRODUCTORY ESSAY ON

JAPANESE CHRONOLOGY AND CALENDARS.



BY



WILLIAM BEAMSEN



TOKIO, 1880.






r=



•^1



G«.



\UiJIX>yL,



I'lintc'il at the "Seishi Bunsiia" Ofiice, Tokio, Jniiali.



r



Up to the present time there have been published no comparative tal)les of Japansso anl Wesiai-n ibxtoj. It is true
that the Home-Department during the years from IQJ-i to 1878, under tha title of Tai-iii T.ti-yj Rio-reld Tai-slw-hid,
published a work in three volumes, purporting to give surh compai'ative tables for the years A.D. 591 to 1872 ; l)ut besides
the fact, that the work contains several errors, possilily typographical, the compiler must have boen unaware, that the
Gregorian Calendar had no existence imtil the year 1582; for the tables are calculated right through according to this
calendar, the consequence being that all the dates given for the first 1100 years are entirely wrong, being from two to ten
days out, according to the century; and thus the book instead of being useful, may easily mislead those, who unaware of the
mistake, make use of the tables they contain.

In preference to giving the Japanese date corresponding to the first day of each month of the European Calendar, as
is done in the aforesaid work, I have followed the opposite course and given the equivalent, according to the Julian or
Gregorian calendars, of the first day of every Japanese month, as the tables are far more likely to 1)0 used for transposing
Japanese dates into Western, than Western dates into Japanese.

The present tables are carried back to A.D. GI5, because that year, l):'ing the one in which the Nen-rp system was
introduced, seems to form a suitable starting point. In reality, however, the calendars existing for the time up to the
l)eginning of the 8th centurj-, are not authentic.

To many it may appear, that to compile tables like those here given, was a task involving more labour than the
subject deserved.. Yet there are not a few cases in which the Historian, the Astronomer, the Seismologist and other students
of matters pertaining to Japan generally, may desire to ascertain the exact date of an event. To them, at least, I hope the
work will be welcome.

W. B.

Tolio,
January, 1880.

€01507



CONTENTS.



ON JAPANESE CHRONOLOGY AND CALENDAES.
I. Systems of counting years :

1. Coiiuting by the reigns of the Emperors ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... Page

2. Coimtiug hy A^u-^y ...

3. The Sexagenary Cycle

4. Counting the years by one continuous era, commencing with the 1st year of Jimmu's reign
II. Sub-division of the year :

1. Calendars

2. Sexagenary Cycle applied to months and days
III. Division of time, prior to the introduction of Chinese Calendars

DIRECTIONS FOR THE USE OF THE CHRONOLOGICAL TABLES

DIRECTIONS HOW TO CALCULATE THE E-TO OF ANY YEAR, MONTH OR DAY

ALPHABETICAL INDEX TO THE CHRONOLOGICAL TABLES

INDEX TO CHRONOLOGICAL TABLES, ARRANGED ACCORDING TO THE CHINESE CHAR-
ACTERS OF THE NEN-GO

CHRONOLOGICAL TABLES for Tai-kira 1st year to Mei-ji 6th year (A.D. G45-1873) Tabk

COMPARATR'E TABLE FOR THE 9th MONTH OF THE IOTh YEAR OF TEN-SHO



2

2

5

11

11

2f)
28
37
41
45



50

1-84

85



EREATA.



Page 20 Till liuo for At read -l^-
„ 32 3rcl ,. read '^

,, 33 11th ,, for robahhj read proo-.ihlfj
„ 36 Foot-note, „ 1104 „ 1122

,, 47 1st column Gtli line, for 37 read 47
Chronological Table 1 Under Tai-kwa 2nd j-ear ord month, for 540 read 64G
„ 2 ,, Sai-mei Sth ,, 2ud ,, ,, 559 ,, 659

4 „ Ji-tr, 9th „ 12th „ „ 626 „ 696

,, 16 First column to the left, for Gtni-nijid read Gican-<iid

,,. 17 Under Kwam-pei 2ud year Interc : month, for 860 read



41


, Kwau-geu 3rd




9th


46 ,


, Gen-ko 2nd




1st


51


, 0-ei Sth




Interc :


53 ,


, Sho-chn 1st




3rd


60


, Tem-l.un 9th




5th


73


„ Kio-hr, 6th




3rd


74


, En-kio 2ud




Interc :



1545
1232
1407
1482
1450
172
, 21 Jan



890
1245
1322
1401
1428
1540
1721
22 Jau



ON JAPANESE CHRONOLOGY AND CALENDARS.



{Head hi'fore the Ashttii- Socictij of Jiqum, lUth Frhnifiri/, ISHU.)



In the follinving I have eucleavoured to tirrangc all the details I have hcen al)le to collect regarding -Tapaneso
Chronology and Calendars, and though for the sake of completeness I have had to include what is perhaps known to many,
I trust the paper will at the same time he found to contain matters that have not yet been explained, or insufticiently so.

I. SYSTEMS OF COU>^TING YEAES.

We find in Japan four difl'erent ways of connting the jx'ars, \iz :

By the reigns of the Emperors.

By year-periods (Xen-[id).

By the Sexagenary Cycle.

By a eontinnons era commencing with the first year of the reign oi Jiminu Tcniw.



1. COUNTING BY THE EEIGNS OF THE EMPEEOES.

By this system the different years of each reign were designated by uiimhers, the series, commencing with 1, being
continued nntil a new emperor ascended the throne. It was a rule, that when a change of emperor took place, the reign of
the new monarch was counted as commencing with the new-year's da,y following his succession, while the whole of the year
in which an emperor died or abdicated was considered as belonging to his reign.

In the earliest Japanese historical works, the years are counted in accordance with this system, and if we calculate
backwards by the reigns assigned to the monarchs of Japan, we find, that the iirst emperor, Jimmu Tcnno, should have
founded the empire in the year 660 B.C. It will, however, later on be sho'^Ti, that these records cannot be relied upon.

2. COUNTING BY NEN-GO.

In the 4th year of the reign of Kwu-gioku Tennd (645 A.D.) the system of counting the years by the reigns of the
monarchs was replaced by the mode which had been in use in China since about 163 B.C., viz. of counting by periods of no
fixed length, each bearing a distinctive name. The first period in Japan was called Tai-kica, commencing as aforesaid
with the year corresponding to 645 A.D.* The names of these periods are called rfp ^ , Ncn-cjo.

This system seems not to have become firmly established at once, for we find, that under Sni-mei (C55-661 A.D.),
Ten-ji (662-671 A.D.), Ji-to (687-696 A.D.) and during part at the reign of Mom-mu (697-707 A.D.), no Xen-riu were used,
the years being as in former days counted by the reigns of the emperors. In the absence of regular Xen-gu for these inter-
als, Japanese chronological works sometimes give as such the names of the said four monarchs.

The year contained in each period are numbered 1, 2, 3 and so on, in the same way as when counting the j^ears of the
reigns of the monarchs. The Nen-(fo is generally composed of two, in exceptional cases of fom- Chinese Characters, usually
possessing some felicitous meaning. Thus Tan-jd means Heavenly Protection; Kuan-sci, Benevolent Government ; Mri-ji,



* It was in reality Ko-toku Tcnno who, on succcediug to the throne in the 7th mouth, adopted the Xen-flo sj-stem. The year in -which the change
took place is therefore, if counted by the old system, Kico-r/ioku's 4th year, while according to the new method it must be called Tai-kwa 1st j-ear.



Enlightened Peace. At times a Ncn-go was chosen, the characters of which bore a rehition to certain important events ;
thus on the first coinage of copper in Japan, in A.D. 708, a new Xcn-fid was formed from the two characters fu |g, ]]'ii-(ld,
meaning Japanese Copper.

The following table shows all the characters iised in forming Xm-r/o, arranged according to tlic number of strokes
contained in each. Among them the three characters ^, ^, ^, are not used in Xcn-(jd proper, lieiiig in reality component
parts of the names of those emperors, who as liefore stated, omitted to choose any Xcii-fio.



ta*






My



Jcinin



ri'l:.i,
riaJcii



im



!'"



mi



hi



m






.'/"



(Id



mi]

id



1,1



Ws,



.11"



mail



Iciraii



tiikn






Icid



J"



ml
fiii-ii



ho






^t*



r<J:ii






m



'n



slid



to



S3.*



nil



J"



did



mi

sJlii



hi: II



m^



sJiiii,



so






till



km






l-ri,



tn



m



)w



Ji



m



Icio i I;d



vlio



m:



slid



-/^'



Iciva,

Wll



(III,
(11(1 It)






(lr,



^11

Id



kits II



mi

clii, slid.



J"



Ji



sllll.



hull,
IIUill



ill

hirii






3^-

shl



%^'






cii ro



shii,

SH



4-;

ch Ti



ci,



?7p-



hci,
hid



a:

l.iTi



(hti,
tdi



ten.



(jivan



nin,
ni



A Xcn-(iTi may often be pronoiinceil in two or more ways, of whicli the one that was in use during the period it gives
its name to, is properly the coi'rect one, the others having their origin in the various pronunciations given to the same
characters at different times. The correct pronunciation is, however, not always the one in general use, the modern sound
being naturally preferred to tlic ancient, perhaps ol)solete one.

The periods into which time is divided by the Xeii-r/d system are of no fixed length, the Nrn-no being changed
whenever some important or memorable event took place. Many Nen-rjo have only lasted one year, while several comprise
over twenty years. The period O-ci reaches the greatest length, covering 34 years (A.I). 1394-1427).

Changes in the style of the Nmi-ijii do not take place on new-year's days in preference to any other day of the year.
AYe have already seen that when the time was counted l)y the reigns of the emperors, it was customary to let the new reign date
from the first day of the year following that in which the change of monarch took place. In the case of changes of Xrn-(ir>,
the rule is just the opposite, the new period, as soon as chosen, being counted l)ack as commencing with the first day of the
year in which the change is effected. Thus when in the 11th month of the 9th year of Mri-ini it was decided to change the
Nen-(j7) into An-ci, the former designation was at once dropped, and the term ^In-ci 1st year adopted as applying to the
whole year from its beginning. This system is somewhat inconvenient, because while books, documents etc. written during
the earlier part of the year would, in the above instance, be dated Mci-ird 9tli year, everything written after the adoption
of the new A'r» -//(■">, even if referring to events falling liefore the change, would mention the j-ear as An-ci 1st. The in-
convieuce is at times increased through the delay that in those days would necessaril}' occur before the change of a
Xfii-fiTi could be notified throughout the country. Thus when the Xen-i'ri was altered late in the year, the news of the change
might not reach some provinces in time to prevent the old name being carried into another year, so that what in
the aliove instance should properly lie Aii-i'i '2nd year, might in distant parts of the country I)e designated Mci-ira lOtli
year.

In 1867 the X<-ii-fiTi was altered to Mii-ji, and it was !it the same time decreed, that henceforth the style of the Xrn-f/Ti
should only be changed at the commencement of the reign of a nev; emperor. In China this rule has been in force since the
time of the lirst emperor of tlie Tiling dynasty, about 13{JG A.D.



The two systems here mentioned, viz. of coiuiting b_y the years of the monarchs and l)y Xcn-(id are both extremely in-
convenient. Without the aid of a hand-l)ook, tlie indications convey no idea of the relative position, in time, of historical
events, and this fact constitutes a consideraljle impediment to the acquirement of a historical knowledge of the country.



3. THE SEXAGENAKY CYCLE.

The mode of countino; the years l)y the al)ove named cycle is Ijorrowed from China, where it has been in use since
the 61st year of the reign of the Emperor Ihuuui-ti (2037 B.C.). It is not known when it was first introduced into Japan,
but it may be surmised, that it was brought there at the same time as the first Chinese books, viz. A.D. 284.

The cycle is formed by combining two separate series of characters as follows :

One series is derived from the five elements hi, lii, tsuclii, kane, miza (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) each of
which is divided into <• and to, elder and younger brother. A separate character being given to each di\"ision, we obtain :

1 ^ ki no e

2 2( ^^^ "" ^^

3 P5 hi no

4 "7* hi no to

5 jr^ tsuchi no e
G E. tsuchi no to

7 J^ ka* no e

8 ^ ka no to

9 ^ mizi; no e
10 ^ mizu no to

This series often is called Tm-lan, ^ ^ : or Jil,-l,(Vi -f- '^l^:, (also written -f- ^), " tlie ten celestial stems".



Jca is an ablireviation oihvir



6

The other series consists of t^n-olve characters, named after the signs of the Zodiac :

ne the rat

iishi the bull

tora the tiger

u the hare

tatsu the tbagon

mi the serpent

lima the horse

hitsuji the goat

sarn the ape

tori the cock

inu the dog

i the hoar

These are called Clii-shi Jjjl ;^, or Jii-iii-slii -j; ZL '^, the "twelve terrestrial branches."

The Ten Celestial Stems are now combined with the Twelve Terrestrial Branches, so as to form groups of two
characters.

The simplest way to effect this would seem to be to have first prefixed ki-)io-e to each of the twelve branches :
thereafter prefixing ki-no-to to each branch ; then using lii-no-c in the same manner, and so on through the ten stems. In
this wa}- we would have obtained one grand cycle of 120 (10 X 12) combinations. This, however, is not the way the two
cycles are used. They are both supposed to be constantly progressing, as will now be described. Let us imagine a clock
with two hands, one long and one short, each having its own graduated scale ; the scale of the long hand being divided into
ten, and that of the short hand into twelve'equal parts, the marks of division being so arranged, that in the place general-
ly marked 1 in an ordinary clock, one of the marks of the outer scale falls in the same radius as one of those of the inner
scale. The divisions of the oi;ter circle are named after the ten celestial stems, while those of the inner one are called after
the twelve terrestrial branches, both series commencing at the aforesaid coinciding points. (See Fig. 1)



1


?.


2


a


3


n


4


m


5


m


6


B


7


^


8


*


9


*


10


W


11


}^


12


^



Fig. 1.




Fig. 2.




Let us further suppose that the clockwork is so arranged that the long hand goes round the dial in ten, and the short
hand in twelve years. "\Mien the hands are set at the aforesaid coinciding points, they will indicate as follows, the long
hand being read first :

^ ki-no-e

J- ne

If the clock is now set going, the hands will at the end of one year point at :
2» ki-no-to

3; ushi

In this way the hands advance one division every year, and after ten years the long hand will be back at ^ , while
the short one will only have reached f^. The hands will thus move on for sixty years, giving us as many different com-
binations, before meeting at the point whence they lirst started. The sexagenary cycle then commences again with ^ ^.

The accompanying table (Fig. 2) shows the order in which the sixty combinations contained in any one cycle follow
each other, one of the Chinese characters in the vertical column being read first followed by one of those in the horizontal
line. Thus the 38th combination is ka-no-to ushi; the 59th, mizu-no-e iim, and so on.

The sexagenary cycle resulting from these combinations is called Kwa-kd-sU ?g ^ •?• One cycle of sixty is called
Ik-ko-shi — ^ -^ or Ichi-gcn — %. The name given to a year according to this system is called its E-to, (from the words
e and to, used in forming the ten celestial stems).

The twelve " terrestrial branches" are sometimes used alone, to indicate the years, without being preceded by one of
the " celestial stems." Thus Teni-ji:) 2ud year (1831) may be called " « no toshi," the year of the hare, and so might Tcm-po
14th year (1843). But it will easily be seen that such indications cannot as a rule be used without leaving a doubt as to the
remoteness of the time spoken of. Thus if in tuna no toshi one speaks of u no toshi, this may mean 3 j-ears ago, or 15
(12 + 3), or 27 (2 X 12 -♦- 3) years ago, and so on. There are, however, cases m which the indication is sufficient. Thus if
in sarii no toshi, a person of about twenty years of age states that he was born in i no toshi, he must refer to the preceding
cycle but one, which makes his age 21 years ; because if he meant the immediately preceding cycle, he could not be older
than 9 years.



10

WTien the two series are used together, a little more precision is ohtaineJ, through the cycle used being one of sixty
years instead of one of twelve. But even here the indication is often amljiguous. If in a year called tsuchi-no-e, unia no
toshi (the 55th of the table), one speaks of an event that took place in mizu-no-to, hitsuji no toshi, (the 20th of the table), he
may mean 35 years back ; or 95, (GO +35) ; or 155, (2x60 + 35) etc. In exceptional cases only is the indication sufficient
to convey an idea of the exact time spoken of. Thus if in the year called ka-no-to, u no toshi (the 28th of the diagram)
an old man f^ives tsuchi-uo-to, nn no toxJii (the 6th of the diagram) as the year of his birth, he must speak of the sexagenary
cycle preceding the existing one, which makes his age 82 years, as it is out of question that he can be either 22 or 142

years old.

In China, this want of precision is by some writers said to be obviated by numbering the sexagenary cycles in a con-
tinuous series, the one commencing 2637 B.C. being the first, which gives us the one now in. use as the 76th, covering the
years 1864 to 1923. I have not been able to verify this statement ; but such a course is at least not followed in Japan, if
for no other reason, because when the system of counting by the cycle was introduced into Japan, it had akeadj- been in use
over 2000 years in China, the consequence being that the Japanese could not well start with the number of the con-
temporary Chinese cycle, as all the previous cycles would be missing in their historical records ; nor could they commence a
new series, by mimbering their own first cycle 1, because the discrepancy thus arising between the numbers of the Chinese
cycles and those employed in Japan would likewise at once display the much later origin of Japanese history-, a fact which
the Japanese dislike to allude to.

The E-to is often used in addition to the year of the reign of the emperor, or the Nen-fjo, thus :

Sai-mei Ten-no roku nen, ka-no-e saru no toshi.

An-sei ni nen, ki-no-to u no toshi.



Tlie sexagenary cycle affords a great assistance in the study of the history of Japan and China, especially in that of
the latter country. Extending back as it does to over 2000 j'ears before Christ, it would have been impossible to fix the true
time of the events recorded by Chinese historians had they but given us the name of the emperor or the incessantly chang-
ing Nen-gTi. 'WTien the E-to of the year is added, as it generally is, it becomes an easy task to calculate all events to a
year. For instance, as the year 1879 is the 16th year of the 76th cycle, we have but to comit back 75X60 + 16 years.



11

to find that the first cycle was instituted in the year 2637 B.C ; and with equal precision the time of any other event may be
ascertained. If moreover the K-to of the month and day is given, as will be explained hereafter, we are enal)led to calculate
any event to a daj'.



4. COUNTING THE YEAIiS BY ONE CONTINUOUS EEA
COMMENCING WITH THE l'^'^ YEAR OF JIMMU'S REIGN.

This mode of counting the years is quite a modern innovation, adopted in imitation of the Christian era. It has
never been in general use, nor is it likely ever to Ijecome so.

When placing the commencement of Jimmu's reign in GGO B.C., the year 1880 A.D. is the 2540th after Jimmu Tenno.



11. SUB-DIVISION OF THE YEAR.

1. CALENDARS.

In Japanese Calendars, as introduced from China, the year is divided into lunar months, a new moon marking the
beginning of a month. As a lunation is between 29 and 30 days, it becomes necessary to make some months 29 and others
80 days. Had a lunation been exactly 29|- days, months of 29 and 30 days might have followed each other alternatelv,
without interruption ; but as the interval between one new moon and the next is somewhat urcr 29|- days, the long months,
of 30 days, must necessarily occur more frequently than those of 29 days.

The rule, according to which the length of the months is regulated in the earliest Chinese and Japanese calendars is
as follows :

If the interval between the midnight hour that marks the ccnnnencement of the day on which a ncAV moon occurs,
and the hour of the next new moon is h-ss than 30 days, the month gets only 29 days. Such a month is called >J» /S7;^) (short).

If, on the other hand, the said interval amounts to 30 days or over, the mouth gets 30 days, and is called ;:A; I'ni don").



12



A hinatiou is variously estimated iu the Chinese Calendars, that have been in use at difl'erent periods. In the one
■\vhieh I have chosen as an illustration, it is 29.5305921 days.

In the instances I am about to give below, I have found it convenient to count l)y decimal fractions of a day, instead
of by hours, minutes and so forth. A day being always coinited from midnight, I have called the midnight hour ; 6 a.m.
will thus be 0.25 ; noon 0.5 ; 6 p.m. 0.75 ; and so on. The midnight with Avhich the 16th day ends and the 17th commen-
ces, I consequently call 16.0 ; noon of the 17th day is 16.5, that is, sixteen days and a half from 0.

Let us now suppose that it is a new moon on the first day of a series, at 3 a. m. or in decimals at 0.125, and let us
call that moon " the 1st." We then have :
1st. MOON commences at 0.125

and lasts, in days 29.5305921



2nd moon will therefore commence on the day and hour expressed l)y 29.6555921
By counting from the midnight preceding the 1st moon, i. e. 0.0



We get



29.6555921



Which being iindcf 30, we make the 1st month 29 days



2nd. MOON



commenced at
and lasts



3rd moon will thus commence
By counting from the midnight preceding the 2nd moon

We get



29.6555921
29.5305921

59.1861842
29.0

30.1861842



Which being over 30, we make the 2nd mouth 30 days



13

3rd. MOON commenced at 59.1861842

and lasts 29.5305921



4tli moon will thus commence 88.7167763

B}- counting from the midnight preceding the 3rd month 59.0



We get 29.7167763



Which being loulcr 30, we make the 3rd month 29 days



B}' continuing in the above manner, we can easily calculate the calendar for any number of months ; but the same
result may be obtained in a much simpler way.

It will easily be seen that a new moon commencing at, or a short time after midnight will come to an end some time
in the afternoon of the 30th day, consequently l)efore the expiry of 30 days from the midnight on or after which it com-
menced. It is not until a new moon commences at such an hour as will entail the next new moon falling on or after the
midnight separating the 30th and the 31st day, that l)y counting from the midnight preceding the former we obtain 30 days
or more, thereby getting a month of 30 days.

From this it may be gathered that it depends entirely on the hour, on which a new moon commences, whether the
ensuing month shall be long or short ; or in other words, if it commences hrfore a certain hour, the ensuing month will
haye 29 days, while if it commences on or after that hour, the month will liave 30 days.

It is obvious that the moment, that thus decides whether a month is to be short or long, must be thr hour expressed hy
tlic dcciiiKils iiliidi if added to tliosc of a lunation, will (five 1.0, that is 0.^694079. For if a moon commences at 0.4694079, the
next moon will commence 29.5305921 days later, that is at 30.0, thus cracth) 30 days after the midnight preceding the
previons new moon, 0.

We thus get the simple rule : If a new moon commences earlier in the day than the hour expressed by the decimal
fraction .4694079, the ensuing month will have 29 days ; if it commences on or after that hour, the month will have 30 days.

In compiling the calendar for a certain number of months, we therefore only have to calculate the decimals indicat-


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryWilliam BramsenJapanese chronological tables, showing the date, according to the Julian or Gregorian calendar, of the first day of each Japanese month, from Tai-kwa 1st year to Mei-ji 6th year (645 A. D. to 1873 A. D.) With an introductory essay on Japanese chronology and calendars → online text (page 1 of 19)