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Time in Japan: When? or, What's in a Date?
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Bethetsu
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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 12:06 am    Post subject: Time in Japan: When? or, What's in a Date? Reply with quote
Consider these:

"What year was Pearl Harbor?" "1941."
"What day?" "December 7."
"What time?" "At 6 in the evening. I was eating supper."
Ahah! You are a German spy. (From my memory of Stalag 17)
I, having no personal memory of the attack, learned "early the morning of December 7." At least some Japanese learned the date as December 8.
Edit: December 8 is general in Japan. The Asahi Shinbun on Dec. 8, 2011 says that today is the 70th anniversary of the start of the war.

Tolstoy's War and Peace was being read (in toto) on the radio. However, when talking about Napoleon's invasion of Russia, the dates of some events were almost two weeks earlier than those given in some of Napoleon's letters.

"I was initially comparing the NASA site w/ the google preview of 'East Asian archaeoastronomy: historical records of astronomical observations' …Several dates are off by a day (975/8/9 'should' be the 10th [this is backwards], 1198/2/8 = 7th, 1210/12/18 = 17th, 1252/3/12 = 11th, and 1304/11/28 = 27th), not a big deal but strange seeing as the rest are accurate. Perhaps some kind of translation error?" (a posting on the SA forum)

When did the Ako ronin attack? 1702? 1703? Dec. 14th? Dec. 15th? Jan. 30? Jan. 31?

Nihongi--reign of Suiko:
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.]
(Material in brackets added in Tsunoda, et.al. Sources of Japanese Tradition)


I had planned for the third topic to be "Nengo," and I was going to start out "This is probably the most important calendar topic for most people interested in Japanese history." I have changed my mind. This thread is more important. It is essential for anyone working with pre-modern Japanese history. It really should have been either the first or last thread in the series, but the topic comes up frequently, and who knows if I will ever get to the final topic? I doubt it

When did something happen? To analyze the answer to the question in a multi-national setting we have to know many things, such as the "time zone," what is considered the start of the day, which calendar is being used, and sometimes, especially when several calendars may be involved, what is meant by the name of the month or by the year. In this thread I will give example several different ways that we can get confused about what moment a certain date/time in Japanese history refers to.

First I will get a notational problem out of the way. In Japanese, dates are always given in Y.M.D order. With western languages both M/D/Y and D/M/Y are common, which may cause confusion if they used only numbers. When I get a letter I often have to look around to figure out what order they are using. And I was at first completely bewildered by a date something like "06 May 08" on my passport. The NengoCalc gives Japanese dates in YMD order, gives Western dates in DMY order, but asks you to give Western dates in MDY order. Just be aware of the meaning of what you read or write (the theme of this thread).




Last edited by Bethetsu on Wed Dec 07, 2011 3:58 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Time zone
Most of us are probably used to having to take the time zone into account in some of our activities. "I will call Wednesday 7pm your time" (only to discover you had gone onto daylight time while I was too distracted by the aftermath of the earthquake to notice). Probably many of us have either woken someone up or been woken up by a phone call because the caller added instead of subtracting, or visa versa. For the record, all of Japan is in one time zone, and Japan Standard Time is 9 hours ahead of Greenwich (or Universal) Time UT. Also, it does not use daylight (summer) time currently.

Q1 Japan Standard Time is popularly associated with what city?

However, the time zone is not so important for Japanese history discussed in this forum because until recently most event were not coordinated across time zones. But, there were some. In the question about eclipses in above post, the reason that the Japanese recorded the eclipse as (the Japanese equivalent of) August 10, 975 rather than August 9, 975 is that the NASA page gives the dates in terms of UT, while the backwards, insular Japanese of the Heian period used a date based on local time. When the eclipse happened by UT, it was already the next day in Japan.

Q2 If there was an eclipse exactly at 15:00 UT on 1000/1/1, would the Japanese record the eclipse as having been seen on 1/1 or on 1/2?

When does the day start?
In ancient Mesopotamia the day started at sunset. The ancient Israelite and the modern Jewish calendars, as well as the Islamic calendars do also. However, in ancient Egypt, the day started with sunrise.

Chinese and Japanese calendar calculations are based on a midnight-midnight day, as of course are modern dates and times. But in China, popularly the traditional day starts at the beginning of the Hour of the Rat, i.e. 11:00 pm, not at midnight, the middle of the Hour of the Rat. (When Japanese and Chinese calendars give a time such as that of the winter solstice that falls in the Hour of the Rat, they specify whether it is the morning or the evening Hour of the Rat.)
In general usage, it seems the day begins when you are expected to get up. I sometimes see signs on stores in Japan saying something like "Open 11:00-26:00." Do they use times like this elsewhere?

One example particularly relevant to this forum: the date of the Ako Ronin's breakin is normally given as the 14th of the month, but since it was after midnight, it actually occurred early the morning of the 15th.
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 9:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Q1 - Tokyo, right? I mean, if you find yourself somewhere that has clocks on the wall for a whole bunch of different times - New York, London, etc. - it'll say Tokyo, not Osaka or Kyoto or Sapporo or Naha.

Q2 - Since Japan Standard Time is 9 hours ahead of UTC, a UTC 15:00 event would be experienced at midnight Japan time. So, I guess, especially taking into account that the Hour of the Rat starts sixty minutes earlier [in modern standard time counting], they'd probably account it as being the next day, which in this example would be 1/2.

Then again, if they witnessed it a few minutes earlier, or didn't have a timepiece of any kind and didn't know it had hit midnight, or were simply counting based on having not yet gone to bed that night, then they'd record it as 1/1. Desho?

..

All in all, terribly interesting - and important - stuff. Thanks so much for taking the time to compose these posts.
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 7:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yeah, for question 2, it would seem there would be two answers. If someone was recording it based on the day changing at the hour of the rat, it's 1/2. If someone recorded it based on when they got up (assuming this was at dawn like most cultures before electric lights) it would be 1/1.

The whole thing about the day changing when you get up still seems to be practiced-by me, at least. I work nights and Wednesday the 18th didn't start in my mind until 7PM of the 'legal' day.

Bethetsu, I'm assuming that the store in Japan you were talking about (11-26) is 11AM-2AM? That's intriguing-can't say I've ever run across that in Kyoto.
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 7:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
 Bethetsu, I'm assuming that the store in Japan you were talking about (11-26) is 11AM-2AM? That's intriguing-can't say I've ever run across that in Kyoto.


I've seen signs/advertisements for as late as 28:00 (4AM). Drinking establishments, of course.
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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
About the day starting with the Hour of the Rat (11 pm)--I believe the source, which I unfortunately cannot find now, was talking about traditional, modern China. I have never heard about that for Japan, though, and my own feeling is that it was not general here.

Q1 Japan Standard Time is popularly associated with what city?
Perhaps I should have said "associated by the Japanese."
Since the whole country uses the same time, there is no particular reason to associate it any more with Tokyo than with Kagoshima or Sapporo or any other city except one.

As JST is UT+9, the time is that of the 135º E. This longitude is (fortunately) approximately in the middle of the country and passes through the city of Akashi明石, just west of Kobe.The other places it passes through are mostly rural, especilly when standard time was established about 120 years ago. There is now an observatory exactly on the line. In any case, everyone knows that Japan uses Akashi time. Even a moderately technical book says Japan uses as standard the time of the "135º longitude, which passes through the city of Akashi." But I cannot name a US city on any of the standard time longitudes.

Q2 If there was an eclipse exactly at 15:00 UT on 1000/1/1, would the Japanese record the eclipse as having been seen on 1/1 or on 1/2?

When I was trying to answer the post about eclipses mentioned above, one of my hypotheses was that the problem eclipses were near midnight, so I tried to solve the above problem.
If the date was based on a layman's observation, it would probably be 1/1 as several people said. But what if they had some sort of clock and were more calendrically oriented, especially as the observations presumably were passed down in some official records? In most of the Edo period Kyoto time was standard for calendar calculations, so if they were astronomers with an accurate clock, 15:00 UT would be just after midnight. Pre-Edo (as 1000), they would presumably have used sun time, and before or after midnight would depend on W or E of Akashi. However, observers might be influenced by the fact that the eclipses were calculated by a procedure developed for the Tang capital of China, so if accurate it would be well before midnight.

Of course, if this is a lunar eclipse, "exactly" has no meaning unless you say where in the eclipse you mean--beginning, middle or end, which gives even more variables to the 1/1 or 1/2 question. However, I am afraid that when I wrote this question, I was thinking solely of solar eclipses, which was what the original posted question was about, and they can be reasonably given a singular time, especially with the timing devices they had then.
But, if you are dealing with solar eclipses, I finally realized there is only one answer. Read the question carefully, think once more, then look for the answer following the collage.


Near midnight they would have not seen any solar eclipse at all, so they would not have recorded it.
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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Question: They wouldn't have recorded seeing the eclipse, but would they still have accurately predicted it? After all, it was not uncommon, as I understand it, for astrologers to calculate the position of stars in the day time (even though they can't be seen); in fact, you have to do this, to some extent, to predict the movement of the heavens at all, don't you? It comes naturally as you "fill in the gaps" of what you are seeing to provide a natural rhythm; or am I off on that?

Anyway, sorry for the detour... back to time and the joys of jumping back and forth across the int'l date line!
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
JLBadgley wrote:
Question: They wouldn't have recorded seeing the eclipse, but would they still have accurately predicted it? After all, it was not uncommon, as I understand it, for astrologers to calculate the position of stars in the day time (even though they can't be seen); in fact, you have to do this, to some extent, to predict the movement of the heavens at all, don't you? It comes naturally as you "fill in the gaps" of what you are seeing to provide a natural rhythm; or am I off on that

Solar eclipses occur when the sun and moon get near enough, and in principle there are two solar eclipses every 364.62 days, that is at new moons (dark moons) every 5 or 6 months. (Sometimes the eclipse is "split" between two months.) (If I am wrong about this, tell me, but I certainly am not at all an expert. If you want to know how eclipses work, look elsewhere.) The problem is, where in the world is it seen? Solar eclipses, unlike lunar eclipses, can be seen only in a narrow swath.
So for your question, the Tang period (822) Senmyô calculation procedures used before 1685knew when the new moon was, and could calculate the positions of the moon and sun, so they had the material, but I am not sure that the Tang astronomers, let alone the Japanese, had any idea of a time difference or knew that an eclipse could be visible in one area but not another, so your question would probably be meaningless to them. Since you have read Nakayama's book A History of Japanese Astronomy, you probably know much more about that aspect than I do.

By the way, almost half of the eclipses recorded in Japanese sources between 862 and 1865 were not visible in Japan according to modern calculations, and when one included those predicted by the Senmyô calendar procedures but not recorded, less than 40% were actually visible. The Chinese procedures normally in effect gave a much greater area of visibility than was actually the case, and furthermore, the procedures were written for Choan長安, not Kyoto. Most eclipses are not noticeable in a given area unless you are particularly watching for them, so I suppose it was easy for those keeping records to assume they just had not been able to see a predicted eclipse. (See Hirose Hideo, Koyomi)


I asked a Japanese woman where Japan Staandard Time was based on, and she answered,
"Akashi, because of the shigosen."
"Does shigosen mean '45 line'?"
"No. I think it is shi as in kodomo and go as in gogo."

Q3 What is a shigosen, and where does the word come from? Those who have been participating in the Time in Japan class should be able to figure this out without resorting to a dictionary.
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I'll have to look up about the eclipses.

"Shigosen" made perfect sense in the explanation. I wonder if you could refer to it as the "Ne'uma-sen" as well? Ne = Rat (which uses "child", or "kodomo/SHI" for its kanji) and Uma = Horse (which uses the kanji "GO", for which the zodiac meaning seems to be primary in Japanese).

"Ne" is associated with north.
"Uma" is associated with south.

So the "Shigosen" refers to a north-south running line, I would expect.

However, couldn't you then have a "shigosen" anywhere? It seems to just refer to any longitudinal line.

EDIT: It looks like it could refer to any meridian, but it specifically refers to the Japan Standard Time Meridian: 日本標準時子午線
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PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
子午線 Any meridian. 日本の子午線は東経'一三五'度です。The 135 degrees is where the Akashi Municipal Planetarium is located and Japan Standard Time calculated. John
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PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Just to expand on Josh's post so everyone knows where all the terms came from-

子午線=shigosen, which does indeed mean meridian but broken down:

子 is the first of the Twelve Heavenly Branches associated (among other things) with direction and that also figure in the sexegenary cycle of Japanese years. It's associated with North and its "On" pronunciation is 'shi' (and as Josh points out is associated with the rat)

午 is the seventh of the Twelve Heavenly Branches associated (among other things) with direction and that also figure in the sexegenary cycle of Japanese years. It's associated with South and its "On" pronunciation is 'go' (and as Josh points out is associated with the horse)

線, 'sen', means 'line'

So you basically have "North-South Line", which perfectly describes a meridian.
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 5:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
子午線
So you basically have "North-South Line", which perfectly describes a meridian.
I agree. Much easier to remember than "longitude." I remember my mother explaining to me that the longitudes were all long, but I still have to stop and think whenever I use "latitude" or "longitude."

JLBadgley wrote:
... back to time and the joys of jumping back and forth across the int'l date line!
OK, here you are:

The intrepid Time Traveller arrives on an island dominated by a very active volcano. He finds an American woman living there and learns from her that he is on Krakatoa, a volcanic island between Java and Sumatra, and it is August 26, 1883. Help! Tomorrow that volcano will blow its top disastrously! However, as the hours go by, the Time Traveller wonders if the volcano will wait for tomorrow. "Are you sure it is August 26?" "I kept a diary every day." "Let me look at it." She gives it to him, and finally he exclaims "The fool forgot to change the date when she crossed the international dateline. It is already the 27th!" (Reconstructed from a few lines remembered from an old TV show.)

Fortunately for us (or at least those of us concerned about calendrical accuracy), the earliest Europeans to come from Japan came from the west, and so did not cross the modern international date line. If they had crossed it, coordinating Japanese and Western dates would have been more complicated. Also, imagine if it had been drawn between China and Japan! However, one cannot ignore the line completely. The Spanish came to Japan from Mexico and the Philippines. I wonder if the dates used by the Spanish in the Philippines were one day off from those used in Japan. Does anyone know? If so, I presume when Spanish Franciscans came to Japan from the Philippines they accepted the days of the week the Jesuits had been using for decades. However, comparison of the log of a ship from the Philippines to Mexico that was wrecked in Japan in 1609 with dates in Japanese records show that the ship used dates from the east. Also a ship from Mexico that arrived in 1612 noted they arrived on a Friday, but it was already Saturday in Japan. Of course they had understood the problem ever since Magellan.

When the Man'en Embassy went to the US on an American ship in 1860, the problem of the de-facto international date line was explained to them, an explanation the American lady in Krakatoa presumably had also received. But like her, most of them they did not do anything about it, so the Japanese dates of their reports are mostly different than those of the standard conversion table dates. Those who continued clear around the world got a shock when they got back to Japan. ( Hirose Hideo Koyomi)

Q4 If according to their diaries they got back to Japan on the 29th of the 9th month, what day would they have found it in Japan?
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PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2011 8:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Q4 If according to their diaries they got back to Japan on the 29th of the 9th month, what day would they have found it in Japan?


Since they were traveling east, their days would have been shorter, so there would be more "days" for them--they would be one day ahead and in Japan it would be the 28th of the 9th month.
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2011 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
JLBadgley wrote:
Since they were traveling east, their days would have been shorter, so there would be more "days" for them--they would be one day ahead and in Japan it would be the 28th of the 9th month.
Yes. And of course if they had been going west they would have had longer, and so fewer days, and their diaries would have had the 27th of the 9th month.
This theme came up in Around the World in 80 Days? The hero bet he could go around the world in 80 days. He went east. He thought it had taken him 81 days, but since the bet was based on the date he got back, it had taken him only 80 days, and so he won his bet.
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 8:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
In 1613 the English opened a trading house on Hirado. The first director was Richard Cocks, whose diary is an interesting and valuable source of information about the contemporary scene. In 1616 he visited Edo and had an audience with Hidetada.
"September 1, 1616--This day we carid the present to the Emperour Hidetada Sama…. But it was long before we could be dispached, by reason all the nobles went with presents to the Empr., it being the first day of the new moone… I think there were not so few as 10,000 persons at castill this day." (They Came to Japan, p. 123)

Q5 a.What was the Japanese date?
b. There were so many nobles visiting because this was a yearly occasion, commemorating an event of importance to the Tokugawa family. What event was this?
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Q5 a.What was the Japanese date?


Genna (元和) 7th Month, 20th Day

Quote:
b. There were so many nobles visiting because this was a yearly occasion, commemorating an event of importance to the Tokugawa family. What event was this?


100 days after Ieyasu's death? No, that wouldn't have been "yearly" at this point, considering he died on June 1st or thereabouts.

Founding of the Tokugawa Bakufu was 12th day of the 2nd month, so that's out.

Wasn't Nagashino's date (21st day 5th month).

So I honestly have no idea.
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:

Genna (元和) 7th Month, 20th Day


元和2年,to be exact.

Hmmmmm....-if it was nobles (in the court sense, but from the description, they likely mean daimyo and their retainers), it might be the anniversary of Hidetada's investiture as Shogun in 1605, although I can't find an exact date for it. Of course, daimyo would be congratulating him as well, so maybe that's it.

EDIT: Looks like Hidetada was made Shogun on the sixteenth day of the fourth month, so that wouldn't be it.
 
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yeah, mistyped and didn't include year, good catch.
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
ltdomer98 wrote:
Genna (元和) 7th Month, 20th Day

A miserable failure of intelligence! Twisted Evil In the rush to answer part b, highly relevant material in the report was not evaluated. And Tatsu, did you try to get the answer yourself or just assume he was right? I suppose you all know something about the Japanese calendar.

I suppose the nobles would be vassals of the Emperour. The Tokugawa would hardly have allowed a multitude of kuge in Edo.
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
A miserable failure of intelligence! Twisted Evil In the rush to answer part b, highly relevant material in the report was not evaluated. And Tatsu, did you try to get the answer yourself or just assume he was right? I suppose you all know something about the Japanese calendar.


HAH! (will admit that I used nengo calc)

Quote:
I suppose the nobles would be vassals of the Emperour. The Tokugawa would hardly have allowed a multitude of kuge in Edo.


Vassals of the Emperor (the real one) or vassals of Hidetada (whom Cocks calls "Emperor")? I would bet that since Cocks really didn't understand the differences between the Emperor and the Shogun, he's calling the warrior elite "nobles" and doesn't mean the Kuge.

Still, have no idea on what the date signifies.
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
OK, what material in the report highly relevant to the question of the Japanese date was not evaluated? And what conclusions can you draw from that about the Japanese date?

There is no point in wondering about the significance of the 7th Month, 20th Day.
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
And Tatsu, did you try to get the answer yourself or just assume he was right?


I assumed he was right, but I would gotten it wrong anyway since I also would have used NengoCalc.

Well, we know it was the 'first day of the new moon'. With Japan using the lunar calendar, that means it would be the first day of the month (since lunar months always start on the first day of the new moon-at least, I think so)! But unless we're assuming that Cocks actually was using Japanese dates and just replaced '9th month' with September when he was writing it up, I have no idea what's going on here either. The only significance '9th month first day' seems to have for the Tokugawa is that's when Ieyasu left Edo in 1600 to chastise Ishida in the Sekigahara campaign.
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yes, "all the nobles went with presents to the Empr., it being the first day of the new moone" implies it was the first day of the Japanese month. And since other entries in Cock's diary in They Came to Japan do not match Japanese dates, for example he describes O-Bon on August 27, 1615, we can assume he was using English dates and it just happened that September 1 was the first day of the Japanese month.

My question had part a and part b. As this thread is titled "What's in a Date?" and not "Edo Trivia," it should have been obvious that Part a was the real question. Asking part b was a diversionary tactic, and it seems to have worked. But b is a legitimate question and has a legitimate answer.

Cocks's Diary is a standard source for the period, including the Osaka no Jin, so historians ought be able to handle the dates in it. When reading it, it is natural to ask why so many nobles were visiting the shogun on Sept.1, 1616. But to answer that, we have to know the correct Japanese date.

If the null hypothesis is that eye-witness testimony is correct, what is the correct Japanese date, and why would the Nengo Calc say the date was the 20th? Obenjo knows the answer, or at least he should, as he and I discussed the calendrical background. Are you there, Obenjo? According to him, even Turnbull knew how to deal with the matter. Has anybody studied early modern European history?
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ltdomer98
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Wait, so the issue is that NengoCalc is wrong? Why/how is it wrong? I use things like that so I don't *have* to think about dates...sigh.

And spare the "even Turnbull would get this" bit--he'd only get it because someone would spoon feed it to him.
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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Fri May 27, 2011 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Has anybody studied early modern European history?


OK, this reminded me that England was still using the Julian calendar at this time, not the Gregorian calendar we (and NengoCalc) use now. My handy converter says to add 10 days to convert J-to-G in that time period, and plugging September 11, 1616 into NengoCalc gives us 元和2年八月一日, which seems to fit it being the first day of the Japanese month (first day new moon). So NengoCalc is right, but it just doesn't work with the Julian dates in the diary. Now I'm off to see what the big deal is for 8th month, 1st day...which looks like it might be the anniversary of 天正18年八月一日 (Tensho 18, or 1590, eighth month, first day) where Ieyasu first entered Edo Castle.

Now, if this isn't right or close to it, I'm fresh out of ideas Laughing .
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