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Time in Japan: Reading and Writing Japanese Dates

 
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Bethetsu
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:04 pm    Post subject: Time in Japan: Reading and Writing Japanese Dates Reply with quote
Welcome to the 4th thread of the Time in Japan series, Reading and Writing Japanese Dates. (Alias "Calendar Rant")
I hope you enjoy it and learn from it.

During the previous thread "When; or, What's in a Date?" we discussed the fact that dates have to be looked at in context; they do not always mean the same thing. For example, the dates for eclipses given on the NASA website and the Heian period records are sometimes a day off; New Year's Day in 1583 was almost a month different for people in the Kanto and those in western Japan; and January 1 for any given year was over a year apart for the Dutch and the English in Hirado (and elsewhere). Chinese and Japanese calendars are often one day apart, and they can be one month apart for as many as seven months in a row. Then you have the poor Japanese who went to America in 1860 and found when they got home they were a day off from everyone else. These all dealt with people recording dates using their own calendars. Maybe they were unusual cases, though they are stumbling blocks when you run into them unprepared.

This thread takes up a related but slightly different problem of context: How are the dates of events in Japanese history transmitted in English? That is, when we read a date, how should we interpret it? Also, if we write a date, how should we write it so it will not be misunderstood? This thread should be of concern to most regular members of this forum, in fact, to anyone who works with the dates of Japanese events in English.
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The Roman empire started using a solar calendar about 2000 years ago and since it has spread throughout the world. There are 365/6 days, twelve months, and the length of all months but February is fixed. The months have nothing to do with the phases of the moon. However, the calendar used in Japan until 1873 was a lunar (or more properly a lunisolar) calendar adopted or adapted from the Chinese. The length of any month was variable and determined by the calculated date of the new moon, and furthermore there could be either twelve or thirteen months in the year. There is no fixed correspondence between the two calendars. For instance, 6/20 (6th month, 20th day) was Aug 2 in 1779, July 21 in 1780, and August 9 in 1781. The only way one can find corresponding dates is to look at a table which has been calculated using the appropriate calendar procedures and corrected by checking historical records. The most popular converter on this forum is NengoCalc
For some hints on its use see the section in the SA wiki.
Or, if there are questions, you can ask on the forum. Also see the problems discussed in the previous "When?" Thread.

Now, when you come across a statement that an event in Japanese history occurred on such and such a date, is that a date by the Japanese calendar, or one that has been converted into the Western calendar? When it is said that something happened in such and such an AD/BC year, when did that year start? Someone who is just reading for interest and don't compare other material, may not have to deal with this problem, but for any analysis one needs to use more than one source, and thus needs to know how the sources indicate dates. Furthermore, when you write the dates of Japanese events, whether for a paper, the SA Wiki, a book (which some here are planning), or even just the Forum, how can you make it clear to your readers what you mean by the dates? I have some strong preferences, which will be clear soon enough Very Happy, but my biggest concern in writing this thread is that people understand what they read and be clear in what they write. (Note that on this thread even though I say "Japanese calendar" or "Japanese dates," the same thing applies to Chinese dates and calendars.)
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
How can a the date of an event in Japanese history be written in English? First let us look at just the month/day part of the date. We will consider the year later.

There are at least four different ways of expressing the date of a Japanese event in English.

1)Transcribe the name of the Japanese month. The English merchant Cocks, who was in Hirado early in the 17th century, normally wrote Japanese dates in his diary using the name of the Japanese month, for example, "the 8th of their month of Singuach[四月八日]" or "January 1 (Shiwas 19 [師走十九日] )." The fact that his transcriptions seem to use Portuguese spellings as "gua" or "qui" instead of the more English "ga," and "ki" suggests to me that the use of Japanese names for months was common in the foreign community there. This way is natural and unproblematic. (In Near Eastern studies as well, dates almost always are given using the transcribed names of months.) However, it is almost never used for Japanese--at least I have only seen it in Cock's Diary.

2) Use of the month number for dates in the Japanese calendar. For instance "the 8th day of the 4th month," or 4/8, etc. This appears occasionally in Cock's diary, sometimes in Jesuit writings. It also appears regularly in modern writing--from Mitford's Tales of Old Japan, most translation of classics, Berry's Culture of Civil War, through Lean Hearn's novel Blossoms and Shadows, etc. It is also recommended for the SA Wiki. I think one can say it is the most standard, scholarly method, as well as the one most suited to fiction. The biggest problem is that dates is often too long when it is written in words, but not good style when written in numbers. Besides one has to be careful with which number is the month and which is the day. However, it has the great advantage of being unambiguous. For example, Sadler's Shimoda Story can set the two calendars together without confusion: "The twenty-eighth of March [1857] by Harris's calendar was the third day of the Third Month by the Japanese calendar."

3) Translate names of the month using modern correspondences, for example, the 5th month as May, or the 12th month as December as they are translated for modern months. This method is used in many works, such as the "standard" account of the 47 ronin and the dates for the starts of nengo in Louis Frédéric's Japan encyclopedia, and Terje Solum's series on the Takeda. Of course, that is what Japanese do when they write in Japanese--the same word go-gatsu 五月 (lit. 5th month) is used for both the 5th month of the lunar calendar and for May of the modern calendar. So, if someone uses the western names of months in a context which suggests they are translating directly from Japanese (or another East Asian language), there is a good possibility they are using this method--at least it should be considered.
Since Japanese normally use only the Japanese calendar for Japanese dates, there is normally little confusion in Japanese, though sometimes writers, lulled by the identical month names, either do not realize or forget that the months by the old calendars are different and make unseasonal comments, such as stating that a journey in the eighth month was in the heat of summer, when it was actually made in the modern month of October. However, for English readers, the real problem of using English month names in this way is the existence of one more method of transmitting dates, one not used by Japanese:

4) Express the dates using the Western calendar. This appears in works such as Papinot's Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan, some of Turnbull's work, some articles on the SA-wiki, and Joyce Ackroyd's very scholarly translation of Arai Hakuseki's autobiography Told Round a Brushwood Fire.

The biggest problem in transmitting Japanese dates is confusion between 3) and 4). This confusion probably reaches its height in the Wikipedia article on the 47 Ronin, where no one seems to know for sure which dates are which, though lately it seems to have settled down. But even on this forum, when anyone reads that the battle of Unnodaira Plain was on May 14th 1541 and tries to coordinate it with the dates given in the SA-wiki, they will run into trouble. Of course, careful writers like Solum usually say in the introduction if they use method 3, but given that dates are so often quoted out of context, it seems safest to give Japanese calendar dates using month numbers rather than English month names. So, you need to take care.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
My preferred method would be akin to Sadler's-giving both the traditional Japanese month and also the Western equivalent (and of course specifying if that is Gregorian or Julian, etc). For something with a lot of specific dates that might bog things down, but it would be easy to set up a shorthand version that would be explained in introductory notes.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 17, 2011 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
My preferred method would be akin to Sadler's-giving both the traditional Japanese month and also the Western equivalent


I wouldn't go so far as to use both in most cases, I think, just where there was a particular reason. Sadler mostly uses them both when he is trying to coordinate Harris's day-to-day activities with the life of the town of Shimoda, as well as government officials. In that passage he goes on to talk about the customs of that day (3/3).

Q1. Are there any good arguments for using Western month names (method 3 above) rather than month numbers (method 2)? After all, method 3 is used.

Q2 Do you know of any other ways of indicating Japanese dates besides those above (or have some good suggestions)?

Q3 When someone puts a date using Western month names on a post on the forum, one of the few ways of determining if it it is 3) or 4) is to find the event in a Japanese source and compare it with the date. I usually do that. However, if you have a long passage, there are several more things you can look at. The translation of Shiba Ryutaro's novel The Last Shogun uses Western month names. What things could you look for that might tell you if it uses the Western or the Japanese calendar?
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 19, 2011 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Q1. Are there any good arguments for using Western month names (method 3 above) rather than month numbers (method 2)? After all, method 3 is used.


Can't think of many other than it being convenient for the translator. It does perhaps put things in a better context for Western readers than method 2. It might also be useful when quoting from a secondary source when you're not sure what method they used for their dates, particularly a modern Japanese source. It could also keep everything that happened within a particular Japanese 'year' gathered together in a roughly equivalent Western 'year'.

Bethetsu wrote:
Q2 Do you know of any other ways of indicating Japanese dates besides those above (or have some good suggestions)?


I've seen combinations of the above methods-for example, years will be from the Western calendar (rather than 'First Year of Bunroku') but the month/day use the Japanese lunar calendar. You could also do it in an archaic manner, like expressing them in terms of the sexegenary cycle-I could perhaps see that being useful for a writer of fiction. In theory, you could use any of the myriad methods and combinations we talked about in the earlier thread on dates. This wouldn't be very practical, though.

Bethetsu wrote:
Q3 When someone puts a date using Western month names on a post on the forum, one of the few ways of determining if it it is 3) or 4) is to find the event in a Japanese source and compare it with the date. I usually do that. However, if you have a long passage, there are several more things you can look at. The translation of Shiba Ryutaro's novel The Last Shogun uses Western month names. What things could you look for that might tell you if it uses the Western or the Japanese calendar?


Well, you would know anything 1873 or later would (almost certainly) be in the Western calendar since that's when Japan adopted it. Other than comparing it to a Japanese or even Western source (or if you already knew the Japanese/Western date of a famous event) as you mentioned, if a date fell on the day of an annual Japanese festival or holiday and you knew the normal range of dates for it, that would be an indicator. Anything dated the 31st would be from the Western calendar.

Bethetsu wrote:
...Shiba Ryutaro...


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I agree. I can't see any reason to use western month names when talking about Japanese months except because of some perceived ease to the translator or reader; I would prefer their usage only when the date doesn't actually matter.

Using a western calendar year, however, is often quite helpful, as most of us don't know all of the nengo by heart. However, we've already mentioned the problems with this when the month is around the end of the year. Still, I think that is outweighed by the benefits.

The only thing I could think of that would tell you whether you are looking at a Japanese or Western date would be various seasonal cues, as mentioned: Festivals, harvests, talk of certain weather patterns, etc. However, going back to the source is always the best.

-Josh
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 21, 2011 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Q1. Are there any good arguments for using Western month names (method 3 above) rather than month numbers (method 2)? After all, method 3 is used.


Tatsunoshi wrote:


Can't think of many other than it being convenient for the translator. It does perhaps put things in a better context for Western readers than method 2. It might also be useful when quoting from a secondary source when you're not sure what method they used for their dates, particularly a modern Japanese source. It could also keep everything that happened within a particular Japanese 'year' gathered together in a roughly equivalent Western 'year'.


It would also depend on the audience. An academic paper or book intended for an audience familiar with the concept of "Tenth Month", it makes perfect sense to keep things as is. If you're writing an introductory work aimed at an audience unfamiliar with Japanese convention, you wither have to use the Western date or have to include a lengthy explanation of how "5th month, 21st day" is really June 29th when you're talking about 1575, for example. I pick that date as my example not just because it's convenient (being Nagashino and all), but because the seasonal timing is important. If I say 5th month, 21st day and the reader takes it to mean May 21st, they miss the fact that the battle actually takes place in June, at the end of the rainy season, which matters when you're discussing a battle that involves firearms.

So as I said, if I were writing to an audience familiar with Japanese dates, I'd probably use the Japanese date and footnote the Western one. If not, I'd use the Western date, because I'm probably not writing in a format that allows for digression or lengthy explanation of the date differences.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Agreed, but I took it as meaning that you are writing about something on the 21st day of the 5th month, and you write "21 May", instead. That boggles my mind, because if I see a western month name then I assume it is a western date.

-Josh
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
JLBadgley wrote:
Agreed, but I took it as meaning that you are writing about something on the 21st day of the 5th month, and you write "21 May", instead. That boggles my mind, because if I see a western month name then I assume it is a western date.

-Josh


Yes, but reread what I wrote. For you and me, who are familiar with Japanese dates, we WOULDN'T read it as 21 May. It's a mistake someone would make. In order to avoid that, I might use the Western date (in 1575's case, 29 June) to avoid having to go into lengthy explanations.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2011 9:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
JLBadgley wrote:
Agreed, but I took it as meaning that you are writing about something on the 21st day of the 5th month, and you write "21 May", instead

Yes, that is what I meant. In Louis Frédéric's Japan Encyclopedia, I suspect the person who translated the nengo dates from the Japanese didn't think of or know of the difference between the calendars--that book is a real mess. However, Terje Solum did know. I would like to ask him why he used that method in his Takeda books, but it seems he has not been around for a few years. If you are out there, Terje, I would like to hear from you!


However, an even more pertinent topic is the one Domer brought up, whether to use Western or Japanese calendar for the month-day dates.
I agree, audience and purpose is (almost) everything. For a paper for an audience who will not be doing any follow-up with historical research, it does make sense to use the Western calendar. However, like in your Nagashino example, you still have to tell them when the rainy season is, which ever calendar you use.. If you get to a book-length work, though, I think you would want to accommodate people who want to use your book as a stepping stone to further studies, and use the Japanese calendar if possible. But I don't think you would usually need to give a detailed explanation of the calendar. In the introduction say something like the dates are 3 to 7 weeks later than the corresponding modern dates, and make other explanations only when needed.

I thought about this problem especially after reading Joyce Ackroyd's very scholarly translation of Arai Hakuseki's autobiography, Told Round a Brushwood Fire, which uses Gregorian dates in the main text. It convinced me the Japanese calendar is normally better, especially for a long work:

For the writer, conversion to Western dates takes extra effort both at the point of converting and in the editing process, since for each date you to proofread both types of dates and check the conversion.

With Western dates, the reader has to wonder whether the conversion was done correctly. For example, the SA-Wiki gives Apr. 24 as the date of the Battle of Dan no Ura, and there are a number of other clear mistakes. Even the translation of Shiba Ryōtarō's The Last Shogun has some wrong conversions. As a reader, I would rather have the original date, which is less likely to have mistakes.

A reader who really cares about dates will probably want the Japanese dates so she can compare with Japanese material and/or the scholarly works in English which use Japanese dates.

The two calendars do not convey the same information. With Ackroyd's translation she had to have footnotes explaining anniversaries, holidays, year end, etc. When Hakuseki was asked to explain the ceremonies of Feb. 1, which ceremonies were they?

When one reads Morris's translation of the Pillow Book, Conlan's In Little Need of Divine Intervention, Ravina's Last Samurai, or a novel like Miura's Lady Gracia, is one frustrated by their use of Japanese dates?

Of course, using only the Japanese calendar without explanation can cause problems sometimes (like when?). And of course, when you have two calendars to worry about, as for the Bakumatsu or the Korean invasion, using the Western does make sense.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Year Dates
Now, finally for reading and writing year dates. The matter that inspired this thread and the previous thread ("What's in a Date") was Lordameth's question in,
"Tensho 19/20 & Bunroku 1 all in 1592?"


I am intending to deal with nengo in the next thread, but I will give a bit of background here.

Since the 8th century Japanese have expressed year dates using "era names" (nengô 年号), calling years the Xth year of such and such a period . For example, in 1573, the imperial court announced on 7/28 of the fourth year of Genki 元亀, that it was the first year of the Tenshô era 天正. On the following New Year's day (Ganjitsu 元日) the nengo year increased by one, so it became the 2nd year of Tenshô (Tenshô 2). Each New Year's day the nengô year increased. Almost twenty years later, on Tenshô 20/12/8 , it was announced it was the 1st year of Bunroku 文禄. 23 days later on New Year's day, Bunroku 2 started.

There is a quirk. The former year was partly in Genki 4 and partly in Tenshô 1, and the latter year was mostly in Tenshô 20 and a little in Bunroku 1. In many periods, including the Edo period, the change in name was considered retroactive, and so historians for most purposes deemed Tenshô 1 to have begun on New Year's day (1/1), not 7/28, of the year, and Bunroku 1 to have begun on 1/1, not 12/8. The most obvious example is the invasion of Korea, which started in the 4th month of Tenshô 20, over 7 months before the start of Bunroku in the 12th month, yet is still called the Bunroku invasion. Tables of year events and date conversions, etc. , usually ignore Genki 4 and Tenshô 20 completely, going from Genki 3 to Tenshô 1 or from Tenshô 19 to Bunroku 1. The users know that any Genki 4 dates belong to the year following Genki 3.
However, the computer Nengo Calc has leeway to have both Genki 4 and Tenshô 1.


What about use of western year dates? Japanese historians normally ignore the western calendar month-day dates unless there is a particular reason, but they commonly the use of western BC/AD year dates. With almost 250 nengô, few people know how they relate to each other. And even if you do know, it can be confusing. A good example of how bad it can be, is the list of the assignments and resignations of the Grand Chamberlains on p. 108 of Bodart-Bailey's The Dog Shogun, a list which uses only nengô.

How are the western year dates assigned? In short, Japanese years are given the number of the western year that they started in. Even if the year name changes part way through, the year itself is the same, so it keeps the same Western year date. It works like this:
New Year's Day can be anywhere from about the last part of January to the last part of February, so any Japanese year will have parts of two western (Jan 1 to Jan 1) years in it. But the overwhelming bulk of the year is in the earlier western year, so the whole of the Japanese year is assigned to the earlier year. For example, Genki 4/1/1 was February 3, 1573, and the whole of that Japanese year, whether Genki 4 or Tenshô 1, is assigned to 1573. Careful historians often use the western year as a gloss, as "Tenshô 1 (1573)." What about Tenshô 1/12/20 (Jan. 12, 1574)? It is in Tenshô 1, so it is still considered part of 1573 and can be written as 1573/12/20. Note that the specific date of January 1, as well as the Julian/Gregorian calendar difference, is immaterial. Tenshô 15 began in 1587, so Tenshô 15/12/5 (Jan 3, 1588 Gregorian; Dec. 24, 1587 Julian) is 1587.
What about Bunroku 1/12/8 (Jan 10, 1593), the day Bunroku was proclaimed? Though the year changed names, it was still the same year it had been for the past 11+ months, so it is 1592/12/8. This is the form often used in reference material as Kôjien 5th ed. So Bunroku 1 is always equated with 1592, even if all of it actually occurred in (Gregorian) 1593.
I think almost all Japanese historians use this method when using a western year with a Japanese month-day date. (If they paid attention to Jan. 1, you would expect date conversion tables to list the Japanese date of Jan 1, but I have never seen one that does.)
I checked relevant dates in Ravina's Last Samurai and the only one I could find in Bodart-Bailey, and they seem to use this method. Tatsu checked Conlan's dates for me, and they do also.

Tastsu wrote:
[in the discussion on Lamers and Elisonas] Westerners routinely screw the dates up with the best example being Migatagahara, which was fought in 1573 by the Western calendar but is almost always listed as 1572 in Western books .

What way do Lamers and Elisonas use and/or recommend? Your question about Julian vs. Gregorian Jan. 1 made me wonder.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Thanks once again for taking the time to write out such a thorough explanation. I think I get it now ^_^
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
What way do Lamers and Elisonas use and/or recommend? Your question about Julian vs. Gregorian Jan. 1 made me wonder.


They're very thorough-perhaps too much so. The Shinchokoki only has three dates in the "Introductory" chapter (which takes everything up until 1567), and none of them fall late in the year where they would be in different 'years'. After that, every chapter written by Gyuichi conformed to a specific year and Lamers/Elisonas simply use the year the nengo started in in the chapter heading (I don't think the year ever gets mentioned in the main body of the text)-listed as "Genki 1 (1570)". However, in their chronology, if a date would be in in the 'next' year if converted to the Western calendar, they list it under the correct Western year with both the Japanese date and the Western date in italics. If it would fall in the same year under both calendars, they just list the Japanese date. So Migatagahara is listed under 1573 and given the date (25 January: Genki 4/4/12) This might be a bit confusing to anyone who wasn't familiar with the calendar systems.

I think listing the Western year using the Western year the nengo started in is fine (so I would list Migatagahara as 4th day of the 12th month of Genki 4 (1572)), but if you convert to Western dates I would use the correct year (so then it would be January 25, 1573). This leaves open the question-what if it's a very general history that just uses years? Would it be best to list Migatagahara as 1572 or 1573, or the date of the 47 Ronin's raid as 1702 or 1703?

Incidentally, Turnbull's new 47 Ronin book brings attention to the fact that while the Japanese celebrate the anniversary of the Ronin's raid in mid December, it should actually be in January.

My question about Gregorian vs Julian dates had to do with how you would handle a nengo year that would fall so as to begin in one year under the Julian calendar but the next year under the Gregorian. I don't know that this is a situation that ever happened, though, so it might just be hypothetical.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsu wrote:
My question about Gregorian vs Julian dates had to do with how you would handle a nengo year that would fall so as to begin in one year under the Julian calendar but the next year under the Gregorian. I don't know that this is a situation that ever happened, though, so it might just be hypothetical.

Throughout Japanese history, including the Nihon Shoki, Ganjitsu 元日(New Year's Day) has never occurred before Jan. 1 in either calendar. It may fall before the Julian Jan 1 about 800 years from now, but I am not going to worry about that. Very Happy

But…They say if you want to learn about something the best thing to do is teach it, and that seems to be the case. "The western year Ganjitsu is in" does seem to work as a rule of thumb throughout Japanese history, but it is probably a mistake to make it a principle.
In China, for at least several centuries before the Han Period--perhaps the change was in 104 BC--most of the time Ganjitsu was in late Nov-late Dec, and at one time it even could be in October. I don't know for a fact how these are treated, but I would think that rather than "the year of Ganjitsu" it would be the "bulk of the year," a well-defined concept because all the calendars we really know anything about have their Ganjitsu from October to February. So, for instance if Dec. 15, 601 BC was Ganjitsu (I made that up!), it would probably be considered the start of 600 BC. But I am sure there is an established correct answer, I just don't know it. I will keep my eyes open for information on it (such as things written about the Spring and Autumn Annals) and let you know if I find the answer. Of course, if anyone reading this knows, please post your knowledge! Another thing I suddenly wondered--when they moved Ganjitsu to 2 months later, did they have a 14-month year, or what?


Tatsu wrote:
[In Lamers and Elisonas] Migatagahara is listed under 1573 and given the date (25 January: Genki 4/4/12) This might be a bit confusing to anyone who wasn't familiar with the calendar systems.

It is very confusing. First, Genki 4/4/12 seems to be y-d-m. Now, Japanese use y-m-d, as do many historians writing in English, NengoCalc (in part) and Bodart-Bailey use the European d-m-y, Americans and NengoCalc (in part) use m-d-y, but L & E seem to have their own private notation.
But, are you sure they wrote Genki 4/4/12? That doen't work with anything. I find the date of the battle listed as Genki 3年12月22日.

But if they title the chapter Genki 3 (1572), for example and the battle is in that chapter, they would be implicitly using the Japanese (Ganjitsu-ganjitsu) years.


Tatsu wrote:
what if it's a very general history that just uses years? Would it be best to list Migatagahara as 1572 or 1573, or the date of the 47 Ronin's raid as 1702 or 1703

It is impossible except in a very limited book to use _only_ Jan-Jan years, as often your information is only a Japanese year. For example, usually we have only a person's Japanese year of birth, so we cannot be sure of the western year.
I would use the Japanese years in principle, but if I spend a lot of time on a particular event or it was very famous, as the 47 ronin, I would add a note. For example, Reischauer writes in East Asia: the Great Tradition, "The Incident of the Fourty-Seven Ronin, which occurred in 1702 (1703 by the Western calendar)"


Tatsu wrote:
Incidentally, Turnbull's new 47 Ronin book brings attention to the fact that while the Japanese celebrate the anniversary of the Ronin's raid in mid December, it should actually be in January.

How does he treat the dates in the text? Also, I am looking forward to your book review.

lordameth, I'm glad you are enjoying this, too.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 27, 2011 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I don't think I'm explaining my question about the Julian/Gregorian dates very well. I'm talking about a hypothetical situation where the actual beginning date of the Nengo year starts in different years under the two Western calendars.

Let's say that Bunroku 1 was declared on the Japanese date that corresponds with December 28th 1592 by the Julian calendar. Because of the 10 day difference, it would fall in 1593 by the Gregorian.

Now, if I'm understanding you correctly, Bunroku 1 would be 1592 irregardless because the entire Japanese year it started in would be considered Bunroku 1 (and since you would start from 'first day, first month') the bulk of the year would therefore be in 1592?

The Lamers-Elisonas problem doesn't lie with them but with me Embarassed , a consequence of posting hurriedly from handwritten notes at work rather than from the book. 4/4/12 is actually the date of Shingen's death after Migatagahara which they shoehorned into the Migatagahara entry. They use the correct date of 3/12/22 (under 1573 in the chronology with the January 25 date in parenthesis, and in the Genki 3 (1572) chapter in the text.

Turnbull covers his bases vis-a-vis (like that, Kitsuno?) dates. He uses the format '19th day of the 4th month (26 May 1701)'. You won't have long to wait on the review-it should be up this afternoon on the Shogun-ki. Oh, that Turnbull...
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yes, the charts I have looked at, both Japanese and Western all give Bunroku 1 starting in 1592.

Western years are often used with Japanese month-day dates, but in the standard method, all the days in the Japanese year (Ganjitsu 元日 to Ganjitsu) are given the same year number regardless of what western year that day falls on. I believe Japanese use this rule virtually without exception, and the English-language historians I have looked at almost always do also. However……I hope this does not confuse anyone, but it is interesting. (If you don't understand the above, you had better stop reading!) I have found two cases in English where they did use Jan-December years for year dates, and since they were pre-Nengo Calc, they must have deliberately looked at a book of tables instead of a 1-page nengo sheet. The two are the following:

A.L. Sadler, Cha-no-yu. He gives many anecdotes, including one involving the 47 ronin. One of them went to visit a tea master "on the nineteenth day of the eleventh month of the fifteenth year of Genroku (1703)" This is Jan 6, 1703, but 1702/11/15 would be standard.
Another is
Tsunoda, et.al., ed. Sources of Japanese Tradition
from the Nihongi--reign of Suiko Aston's translation, material in brackets added by editors:
"11th year [604], 12th month, 5th day. Cap-ranks were first instituted in all twelve grades….
[In this year also a Chinese-style calendar was officially adopted for the first time.]"
Suiko 11 accounted as 603, but Suiko 11/12/5 is Jan. 11, 604.

So both of these editors used Jan-Dec to determine the year. There are several good reasons the Jan-Dec. system will not work:

Since almost everyone uses Ganjitsu-Ganjitsu, it is utterly confusing.

Unless you know the exact Japanese day, you cannot be sure of the year date.

It is confusing even to those that use it. "In this year also…" would normally be understood as the 11th year, but their source (Reischauer) said "604," and it actually refers to the start of Suiko 12.

Also look at these:
Q1. Give the western date for the following Japanese dates using standard Ganjitsu to ganjistu years: (Nengo Calc give the standard year at the top of the table on the right side of the calculator on my version. You can open the table using the arrow at the bottom right of the calculator.)

A.1601/11/25
B.1597/11/25
C.1598/11/25
D.1599/11/25

Q2. Give the western date for the following Japanese dates using Jan-Dec. years (be careful!):

A.1601/11/25
B.1597/11/25
C.1598/11/25
D.1599/11/25

So let us stick to ganjitsu to ganjitsu years with Japanese dates. In fact, if you are just looking for the nengo years, it is safer not to use Nengo Calc.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Also look at these:
Q1. Give the western date for the following Japanese dates using standard Ganjitsu to ganjistu years: (Nengo Calc give the standard year at the top of the table on the right side of the calculator on my version. You can open the table using the arrow at the bottom right of the calculator.)

A.1601/11/25
B.1597/11/25
C.1598/11/25
D.1599/11/25

Q2. Give the western date for the following Japanese dates using Jan-Dec. years (be careful!):

A.1601/11/25
B.1597/11/25
C.1598/11/25
D.1599/11/25



I don't have any of those fancy arrows on my version of NengoCalc, but here's what I got (in year/month/day order):

Q1:
A.1601/12/19 (assuming the 11 wasn't the Intercalary 11)
B.1598/1/2
C.1598/12/23
D.1600/1/11

Q2:
A.1601/12/19 (assuming the 11 wasn't the Intercalary 11)
B.1597/1/13
C.1598/12/23
D.can't be done, if I'm doing this right-using Keicho 3 gives the same Western date as C., using Keicho 4 gives 1600/1/11, which doesn't work because we know the year should be 1599 by the Western calendar
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Right, except investigate Q2C again. Wink

The Chinese History Forum has the text and an original translation of the Spring and Autumn Annals. I picked some scattered headings and copied them. They use the "bulk of the year" rule, and you can see why. Whether Gatan is at the beginning or end of the Western year varies with the period and the year. If they used "the year Gantan is in," you would get utter chaos, and besides, the exact dates for the beginning of months are scholar's conclusions, and you wouldn't want to have to change all your year references if they changed their minds! (The current dates may be based on the 1928 work of a Japanese scholar Shinjō Shinzō 新城新蔵. I tried reading it a while ago, but I could not follow the references. I may try again sometime with the text and translation of the Annals.)

http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index.php?/topic/15313-springs-and-autumns-annals-chunqiu/

Third year – 720 BC (720 January 24 – 719 January 12, common year)

Eighteenth year – 694 BC (694 January 7 – 694 December 27, common year)
First year – 693 BC (694 December 28 – 693 January 14, leap year)
Second year – 692 BC (692 January 15 – 693 January 3, common year)
Third year – 691 BC (691 January 4 – 690 January 20, leap year)
Fifth year – 689 BC (689 January 12 – 689 December 30, common year)
Sixth year – 688 BC (689 December 31 – 688 December 19, common year)

First year – 590 BC (591 November 28 – 590 December 16, leap year).
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Right, except investigate Q2C again. Wink



Oops, 1598/1/2-same as question 1B since it's the same actual date. But it seems it can also be my original answer of 1598/12/23. So this is an excellent example of why you shouldn't use "January to December" Western years in conjunction with Japanese lunar dates.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2011 4:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Every year there will be either doubled dates or missing dates. However, I think there is an even more fundamental reason for avoiding "January to December" years. Even if you put in the nengô so it is not ambiguous, as the above examples did (11th year [604], 12th month, 5th day; Genroku 15 [1703]/11/15), it does not help you much.
Most 11th- or 12th-month dates may occur both at the beginning and end of the Jan.-Dec. year in some years. Suppose you read "at the battle of Migatagahara , Genki 3 (1573)/12/3)." Now, a lot happened in 1573, so if you are interested in chronology at all, you would want to know if it was at the beginning or the end of that year. So you pull out your handy copy of Tsuchihachi or open up your computer and call up NenCalc and find Genki 3/12/3 was at the beginning of 1573. Or, you look at a list of nengô and find that Genki 3 corresponds to 1572, so 1573/12/3 must have been at the beginning of 1573. But if you have to look up Genki 3 anyway, why does an author need to bring in 1573 at all?
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