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Time in Japan: Era Names, Regnal Years, and Imperial Years
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heron
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Q14

According to Donald Keane (Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his World 1852-1912) the emperor visited the sanctuary 'where he drew lots to determine the new nengô from among several names submitted by scholars.'

I wonder what some of the others were. It seems such an appropriate name it's hard to imagine it was chosen by chance.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
Q14

According to Donald Keane (Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his World 1852-1912) the emperor visited the sanctuary 'where he drew lots to determine the new nengô from among several names submitted by scholars.'

I wonder what some of the others were. It seems such an appropriate name it's hard to imagine it was chosen by chance.


I was hoping you'd show up, because I didn't have a clue Just Kidding .
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2012 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I finally got my books back on the shelves Very Happy By the way, I am really enjoying the book on medieval medicine - what a nice writer Andrew Goble is. I'll write about it in the proper place when I've finished it.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
heron wrote:
Q14

According to Donald Keane (Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his World 1852-1912) the emperor visited the sanctuary 'where he drew lots to determine the new nengô from among several names submitted by scholars.'

I wonder what some of the others were. It seems such an appropriate name it's hard to imagine it was chosen by chance.
Yes, Heron.
「この年号は衆人の決定を廃し、聖上(天皇)みづから賢所(Kashikodokoro the shrine to Amaterasu in the Palace)へ入りなされ、神意御伺ひの処、明治年号を抽籤相成り候に付、明治と御決定に相成」

I suppose the names were all rather appropriate. Apparently Meiji had been suggested another time also.

By the way, it was big news last year that Keene was planning to apply for Japanese citizenship.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2012 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
By the way, it was big news last year that Keene was planning to apply for Japanese citizenship.


Not only planned to, but did apply, and was accepted, and is now a Japanese citizen.

So now what I need to do is all clear: all it takes to become a Japanese citizen is to spend an entire lifetime translating select pieces of Japanese literature, focusing on bringing it to a "wider audience" than academic interpretation, win a few awards from the Emperor, and 60 years from now, boom--I can become a Japanese citizen.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Earlier we discussed various topics relating to Japanese nengo. Now, I will try to give somewhat of a systematic history of year dates in general.

In the west, year dates developed from each year having a distinctive name, to having a continuous count that can go on till the end of time.
As was discussed in this thread http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=5027, the earliest year dates we have are from the end of the 3rd millennium BC. At first in Mesopotamia and Egypt, each year was given a distinctive name from an event. In northern Mesopotamia the system developed of rotated the year name among the holders of various offices, starting with the king in his first year of office. In Egypt they numbered bi-annual censuses in each reign. From the middle of the 2nd mil. BC, reign eras as well were used in both Mesopotamia and Egypt. For the Assyrians Year 1 was the year following the accession year; for Babylonians, Year 1 was the accession year. The Seleucids, who seceded Alexander in control of the "Hellenistic" region of the East Mediterranean, as far as I can tell, were the first to use an unending year count. When the new ruler came to power, they just continued the count. The examples I saw just said "year 76," etc., not giving an era name. Perhaps because this was so handy, the "Seleucid Age" count (starting 311 BC) continued to be used for centuries even after the Seleucids disappeared. There were some continuous year counts used by astronomers (Age of Phillip, with Egyptian years) or historians (from the founding of Rome). But the AD system which was devised in the 6th century gradually became the general international standard, and it seems that it will continue to be so in the forseeable future, whatever it is called.

Now, for China and Japan.
Writing appeared in China from about 1250 BC. It is known from inscriptions on bronze ware and especially from the Shang oracle bones. Most give no year, but some of the later inscriptions use reign years as 王六祀, 王廿祀. However, they normally do not say _whose_ reign.
In the Western Chou (Zhou) period, the "1st year" 元年 of a reign could be either the actual year of accession (Babylonian and common Western system) or the calendar year following the accession (Assyrian system).

One early Chinese work is the Spring and Autumn Annals, covering 722 BC to 481 BC. It is considered accurate--in particular virtually all of the eclipses it mentions can be calculated as happening on the day recorded in it. Even more to the point for our purposes, as it was considered to have been written by Confucius, it was a classic and very influential. In fact, the period it covers is often called the Spring and Autumn Period.

Q15 What system did the Annals use for years? There is a copy with a translation in the China History Forum. Try searching on 元年 and see what you find.
The following does not have the whole Annals, but I cannot find an index.
http://classical-chinese.blogspot.com/search/label/SpringsAutumns

The whole translation originally appeared in the following, but I sometimes have trouble loading them, especially the second. It seems to have trouble downloading the advertisements so will not download anything else.

http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index.php?/topic/15313-springs-and-autumns-annals-chunqiu/
http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index.php?/topic/15313-springs-and-autumns-annals-chunqiu/page__st__15


Last edited by Bethetsu on Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Q15 What system did the Annals use for years?


It appears the system was based on the reign years of the rulers of the Chinese state of Lu during the years you mentioned, which would be:

Yin 722-712
Huan 711-694
Zhuang 693-662
Min 661-660
Xi 659-627
Wen 626-609
Xuan 608-591
Cheng 590-573
Xiang 572-542
Zhao 541-510
Ding 509-495
Ai 494-477 (although it missed the last four years of his reign).

So for the first ruler on the list, Yin1 would be 722 BC and Yin11 would be 712 BC.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2012 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
One early Chinese work is the Spring and Autumn Annals, covering 722 BC to 481 BC. It is considered accurate--in particular virtually all of the eclipses it mentions can be calculated as happening on the day recorded in it.


I wonder about this being used to verify the accuracy of the work; if they could calculate the eclipses forward, could they not also calculate them backwards?

I'm sure there is more that makes us suspect it is a trustworthy source (or as trustworthy as anything written at the time and pulled through the millenia might be), but the comment that the eclipses are right makes me wonder, since they could have calculated them out, couldn't they?

-Josh
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
I guess I was not very clear, so I will rephrase.

Q15 In China, traditional lists of rulers normally give their reign starting from their gannen 元年。However, in some cases the gannen is the year they actually came to power upon the death etc. of the previous ruler (Babylonian system), and in some cases it was the calendar year following the accession year (Assyrian system). Which system did the Annals use for years?
Since there is (a transcript of) the primary source, i.e. the Annals, available, use that to check. Apparently the url I gave above does not not have the whole work, so I added the urls for an earlier version. I sometimes have trouble downloading them though, but try checking the gannen as far as you can.


JLBadgley wrote:

I wonder about [eclipses] being used to verify the accuracy of the work; if they could calculate the eclipses forward, could they not also calculate them backwards?

First, I brought up eclipses because the work is the major source of information for the calendar of the period, my interest, and calendar scholars all start with the eclipses. Historians might give other reasons. I suppose for history it jives with Shima, etc. It is so sparse, that it is hard to believe it is made up, but I don't know much about Chinese history.

About working backwards, they couldn't have at the time. The commentaries that it appears in are pre-Han. On the other hand, though there were attempts to predict eclipses using eclipse cycles in the Han period, the first Chinese work to calculate the irregular movement of the moon was in the 3rd cent. AD, and even the 822 AD calendar long used in Japan came up with too many eclipses.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
It appears that they used the year of the date that the ruler was officially enthroned, which when recorded is almost always the first month of the year. There is one record of at least one of the later rulers, Ding (509-495), being enthroned later in the year. Several of the earlier rulers don't appear to have had their enthronement dates noted, but I just skimmed the entries so they might be in there somewhere.

I'm not 100% sure if this would qualify as 'Babylonian' or 'Assyrian', since the previous rulers could have been dead for several months before the enthronement became official. If you consider the reign to begin at the previous ruler's death (which we usually do), it would be the Assyrian system (beginning with the year after the 'accession year').
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
I'm not 100% sure if this would qualify as 'Babylonian' or 'Assyrian', since the previous rulers could have been dead for several months before the enthronement became official. If you consider the reign to begin at the previous ruler's death (which we usually do), it would be the Assyrian system (beginning with the year after the 'accession year').

I think it is just easiest to say that the gannen was the year after the death of the previous ruler, i.e. the "Assyrian" system, and the enthronement also took place then, especially since the enthronement of several of the early dukes is not mentioned. One recent Chinese specialist said in passing "The year when the old king died and the new king ascended to the throne and the following year were both used [for the "first year"] during the Western Zhou Dynasty," without mentioning the enthronement.
By the way, I am sorry to use the terms "Assyrian" and "Babylonian," but I haven't come across any good East Asian terms as I have not seen the matter discussed, which is of course why I am discussing it. Very Happy The roundabout reference quoted above "the year when the old king died and the new king ascended to the throne and the following year" suggests no regular terminology.

Dates read like this "三年春,王二月己巳,日有食之。Third year. In spring, in the second month of the royal calendar, on day Jisi (6) (February 22), the sun was eclipsed."
三月,庚戌,天王崩。On the third month, on day Gengxu (47) (April 4), the heavenly king passed away."
We will come across a similar format later. Note it does not give the name of the ruler in the date, and also it does NOT say what day of the month it is, just the cyclical day. While we can match the cyclical days exactly with the (fixed) Julian calendar, we do not know exactly how they determined intercalary months or the 1st of the month back then, though it was around the time of the new moon. So by itself, 二月己巳 could be any day from 1 to 30. On the other hand, since on this day there was an eclipse, it had to be at the beginning of the 2nd month, or the end of the 2nd month (just before the beginning of the 3rd month). From the second date 三月,庚戌, we would assume the eclipse was at the beginning of the 2nd month, unless there was an intercalary 2nd month. But apparently the scholars who have tried to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together think not.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 05, 2012 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
It is a bit repetitive, but I will repeat some of what I said in my "calendar rant." http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=5204
tying it directly to the Spring and Autumn Annals.
Using Western year dates instead of or together with reign years, or with nengo, is wonderful for everyone, but you can run into trouble if you are not careful.


First, unless you give a full y-m-d Western date, like that of eclipses, etc., you should use Chinese years, ganjitsu 元日to ganjitsu, not Jan.1 - Dec. 31 years. If you don't, you will run into all kinds of problems, not the least that most scholars use the Chinese years. With early Chinese material, you have the added problem that we are not sure exactly when the year started in most cases. Even in the Spring and Autumn Annals, the dates for the start of the years are mostly hypotheses which have changed over the milennia, and we do not wish to saythat someone died in such and such a year based on a hypothesis when we can say for sure that she died in such and such a Chinese year.
At the bottom of this post I give some of the year headers from several places in the Annals. The western dates of the years (722 January 16 – 721 January 5, etc.) are modern scholars' hypotheses. I think the basis for the modern scholarship is Shinjô Shinzô's 新城新蔵 1928 work. I read the beginning of it but I got stuck because I don't know Chinese or much about classics, but now that I have the English translation of the Annals I may try again. He said he tried to interpret the Annals itself, not following the commentaries, 春秋左氏伝, etc. (Everyone says his work is based on the 左伝, though, so I wonder if they really read his work, or I misread it, or perhaps I did not read far enough.)


Now, how do we assign Western year numbers to Chinese years? As I mentioned in the previous thread, you find the Jan. 1 that is nearest to the New Year's Day (ganjistu 元日) of the year, whether before or after, and give it the number of that Jan. 1.'s year. The Chinese calendars that we know enough about, all have their ganjitsu "near" Jan. 1, so there is no problem with "nearest". For Japan, as ganjitsu has always been in Jan. or Feb., including in the Nihon Shoki, it will be the Jan. 1 preceding the ganjitsu. However, look at the examples from various parts of the Annals listed below. Compare the list of the conventional year dates with the list of the years of the dates of the ganjitsu. Conventional wisdom is wise.

In contrast, in the West, in the Ancient Near East and the Hellenistic periods, the year started in the spring or in the fall, depending on the country and period, so scholars mostly describe a year as something like "487/486 BC." to make it clear.

First year 722BC (722 January 16 – 721 January 5, common year)元年 春
Second year 721 BC (721 January 6 - 720 January 23, leap year)二年 春
Third year – 720 BC (720 January 24 – 719 January 12, common year) 三年春
3.1三年春,王二月己巳,日有食之。Third year. In spring, in the second month of the royal calendar, on day Jisi (6) (February 22), the sun was eclipsed.
Fourth Year – 719 BC (719 January 13 – 718 January 2, common year)
Fifth year – 718 BC (718 January 3 – 717 January 20, leap year)


Twenty second year – 672 BC (672 January 3 – 671 January 21, leap year)
Twenty third year – 671 BC (671 January 22 – 670 January 10, common year)
Twenty fourth year – 670 BC (670 January 11 – 670 Decemeber 31, common year)
Twenty fifth year – 669 BC (669 January 1 – 669 December 19, common year)
Twenty sixth year – 668 BC (669 December 20 – 667 January 7, leap year)
Twenty seventh year – 667 BC (667 January 8 – 667 December 28, common year)
Twenty eighth year – 666 BC (667 December 29 – 665 January 14, leap year)

Fourth year – 656 BC (656 January 7 – 656 December 26, common year)
Fifth year – 655 BC (656 December 27 – 655 December 15, common year)
Sixth year – 654 BC (655 December 16 – 654 December 4, common year)
Seventh year - 653 BC (654 December 5 – 653 December 22, leap year)
Eighth year – 652 BC (653 December 23 – 652 December 12, common year)

Ninth year – 651 BC (652 December 13 – 651 December 31, leap year)
Tenth year – 650 BC (650 January 1 – 640 December 20, common year)
Eleventh year – 649 BC (650 December 21 – 648 January 7, leap year)
Twelfth year – 648 BC (648 January 8 – 648 December 27, common year)
Thirteenth year – 647 BC (648 December 28 – 646 January 15, leap year)
Fifteenth year – 645 BC (645 January 5 – 645 December 23, common year)

Twenty second year – 638 BC (639 December 19 – 638 December 7, common year)
Twenty third year – 637 BC (638 December 8 - 637 November 25, common year)
Twenty fourth year – 636 BC (637 November 26 - 636 December 14, leap year)
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
The sexegenary cycle (see http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=4884)
From the earliest Chinese writing (the Shang oracle bones) a cycle of 60 pairs of characters, a combination of a 10-cycle and a 12-cycle, were used to indicate the days. The characters were re-interpreted in Han times to have various meanings, and in particular the 12-cycle were given animal names, as rat, ox, etc.
In the 3rd century BC the 12-cycle (branches支) started to be used to indicate the part of the sky where the sun was during a a month of the year, and also, as it takes Jupiter about twelve years to make a round of the ecliptic, this was also associated with where Jupiter was during a year. Eventually the 60-cycle eventually was used to indicate years, disassociated with the movement of Jupiter. There is a tomb from 168 BC that dates Qin Shi Huang 秦始皇 (246 BC) using the cycle. From that period on, the 60-cycle has been a major way to indicate years in China. In Japan, also, the cycle was used commonly for years until the Meiji period. Of course as the cycle repeats every 60 years, nengo also were normally used in histories or in legal documents. In China years could be indicated by either nengo + year count or by nengo + cyclic year. For example, the conversion program at http://sinocal.sinica.edu.tw/ lets you look up a date by either one. In Japan, however, though it is not uncommon for a document to have only a cyclic year, if the nengo is given, normally the year count is given also, with the cyclic year sometimes given and sometimes not. Of the few cases I have seen of nengo + cyclic year, most were following Chinese practice、eg. 慶長甲辰季夏庚寅

Q 16 Review: There is a sword apparently made during the reign of the Japanese emperor Yûryaku雄略, with the year date 辛亥. What year was it? What the cyclical date for Qin Shi Huang 秦始皇 (246 BC) used in the 168 BC tomb?
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
The sexegenary cycle (see http://forums.samurai-archives.com/viewtopic.php?t=4884)
From the earliest Chinese writing (the Shang oracle bones) a cycle of 60 pairs of characters, a combination of a 10-cycle and a 12-cycle, were used to indicate the days. The characters were re-interpreted in Han times to have various meanings, and in particular the 12-cycle were given animal names, as rat, ox, etc.
In the 3rd century BC the 12-cycle (branches支) started to be used to indicate the part of the sky where the sun was during a a month of the year, and also, as it takes Jupiter about twelve years to make a round of the ecliptic, this was also associated with where Jupiter was during a year. Eventually the 60-cycle eventually was used to indicate years, disassociated with the movement of Jupiter. There is a tomb from 168 BC that dates Qin Shi Huang 秦始皇 (246 BC) using the cycle. From that period on, the 60-cycle has been a major way to indicate years in China. In Japan, also, the cycle was used commonly for years until the Meiji period. Of course as the cycle repeats every 60 years, nengo also were normally used in histories or in legal documents. In China years could be indicated by either nengo + year count or by nengo + cyclic year. For example, the conversion program at http://sinocal.sinica.edu.tw/ lets you look up a date by either one. In Japan, however, though it is not uncommon for a document to have only a cyclic year, if the nengo is given, normally the year count is given also, with the cyclic year sometimes given and sometimes not. Of the few cases I have seen of nengo + cyclic year, most were following Chinese practice、eg. 慶長甲辰季夏庚寅

Q 16 Review: There is a sword apparently made during the reign of the Japanese emperor Yûryaku雄略, with the year date . What year was it? What the cyclical date for Qin Shi Huang 秦始皇 (246 BC) used in the 168 BC tomb?



The sword would be 471, since that is the only 'kanoto i' year (雄略) during Yuryaku's theorized reign of 456-79.

For the second part, I'm assuming you want the cyclical date for 246 BC. I think it would be a 2,4 乙卯 (kinoto u) year (the 52nd year of the cycle) although I might be a bit off because the 'no year zero' thing still causes me trouble.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
Bethetsu: There is a sword apparently made during the reign of the Japanese emperor Yûryaku雄略, with the year date . What year was it? What the cyclical date for Qin Shi Huang 秦始皇 (246 BC) used in the 168 BC tomb?
The sword would be 471, since that is the only 'kanoto i' year (雄略) during Yuryaku's theorized reign of 456-79.
For the second part, I'm assuming you want the cyclical date for 246 BC. I think it would be 2,4 乙卯 (kinoto u) year (the 52nd year of the cycle) although I might be a bit off because the 'no year zero' thing still causes me trouble.
Yes, you are right. I always have to be careful with BC dates myself, because it is easy to add 1 instead of subtract 1, or visa/versa, besides the problem of starting the cycle with 0 or 1.

Now, Chinese nengo.
Though there are a few cases of earlier nengo, the first regular usage was the Han Emperor Wu(武), who established the nengo 建元 in the 元年 of his reign, 140 BC.
"At that time it was believed that a large number of years in a reign naturally attracted the ruler's death. Instead of counting years in a reign the Han emperors began using year-periods, each with a different name, beginning a new one every few years. Emperor Wu at first began a new period every six years, but when he became older, he began a new year-period every four years! " (Dubs: "The Beginnings of Chinese Astronomy," JAOS 78 1958) While that sounds a bit apocryphal to me, the nengo did tend to get shorter and shorter as one can see by the list of Chinese nengo on the J-Wiki,http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/元号一覧 (中国).
I do not know all the reasons for establishing a new nengo as I don't have any good material like I had for Japan. Many nengo started on New Year's Day, though in Japan that happened only once. But as in Japan, the most important reason to start a new nengo was the beginning of the reign (dai-hajime代始め). It could start either the accession year or the following year (i.e. what I called the Babylonian style or the Assyrian style). However, it seems that traditionally the gannen of the first nengô was called the accession year, whether or not it was actually the accession yea. See the list in William Mayers, 1874, where the two always match.
http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=JUoNAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA370 (which can by freely downloaded)

Q 17 Pick two Chinese dynasties separated in time , and look at the first nengo of each ruler . What is the relationship between the actual accession year of the emperors and the 元年of the nengo? Pick a well-established dynasty so you can get good information about the accession year and also because those are more likely to be typical. The wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Chinese_monarchs
has a useful list giving the actual accession year, but it includes many minor dynasties and members of dynasties that are not really rulers of China, so maybe choose the dynasties and rulers from Mayers and check them with the Wikipedia page.
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Q 17 Pick two Chinese dynasties separated in time , and look at the first nengo of each ruler . What is the relationship between the actual accession year of the emperors and the 元年of the nengo?


Well, I first chose the Ming (1368-1644, not including the 'Southern Ming') because I'm sure that their era names and ascension years are superior Just Kidding . They almost always have the 元年 of the nengo as the first year following the actual ascension year, with the nengo starting on the first day of the new year. The only exception seems to be the Taichang Emperor who only ruled for about a month before dying in 1620. They gave him his own era that started on the day he was was enthroned.

Then I looked at the Song (or Sung), 960-1279 (including the Southern Dynasty this time around). They generally seem to do the same thing-the 元年 of the 'enthronement' nengo is the first year following the actual enthronement. There are a few instances where the Western years for the nengo/actual enthronement seem to match up (especially during the later Emperors of the Southern Dynasty), but it seems this is due to the actual enthronement coming late in the Chinese year so that it falls on the next Western year. Hard to say since I didn't find actual Western dates for the beginning of Song Dynasty eras, and I'm far too lazy to work them up.

The real difference between the two is that the Ming (and the Qing after them) used the same era name for the entire reign of the Emperor (except for the Zhengtong Emperor who had two reigns and two eras) like Japan does now. The Song (and everyone before the Ming) tended to use multiple eras for each Emperor (like Japan did pre-Meiji), since having a long number of years associated with an era was apparently considered unlucky.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi wrote:
Well, I first chose the Ming (1368-1644, not including the 'Southern Ming') because I'm sure that their era names and ascension years are superior Just Kidding . They almost always have the 元年 of the nengo as the first year following the actual ascension year, with the nengo starting on the first day of the new year. ...
Then I looked at the Song (or Sung), 960-1279 (including the Southern Dynasty this time around). They generally seem to do the same thing-the 元年 of the 'enthronement' nengo is the first year following the actual enthronement.

I looked at the Han, the Sui (the dynasty that united the country after the breakup of the Han), beginning of Tang, and Qing.

I think you missed a major point. It is true that in the majority of cases the gannen follows the actual accession, but in the cases of the founders of dynasties, as the Sui, Tang, Song, Ming, Qing, their gannen were the actual year they claimed the throne. I presume they would not want to use the nengo of a ruler who had lost the mandate of heaven. In the case of the Song, Ming and Qing, at least, they proclaimed their rule in the first few days of the year. (In the case of Qing, he did not proclaim himself Emperor of China, but his descendents considered him their founder.)
Also, when there was a power struggle within a dynasty, apparently the accession year was often made gannen, as in 23AD, 25AD 168, 189, (Han).
In Sui, the 3rd emperor was declared emperor by a rebel Li Yuan in 617, and that was made his gannen. Then he "yielded" his power to Li in 618, who started his gannen that year as founder of the Tang dynasty. So the end of a dynasty often was rather irregular.

In the Song, the 1st emperor, and surprisingly the 2nd emperor at the very end of his accession year, proclaimed nengo in their accession years, but after that it was generally the following year. Also, the Southern Song emperor declared a nengo in his accession year probably to rally his supporters after the Song dynasty was destroyed by invaders.

The Ming (no.3) Yongle emperor won a power struggle with no.2, but it is said instead of declaring a gannen immediately, he ignored his predecessor's nengo, and extended the nengo of the no. 1 Hangwu洪武 emperor for several years after his death to make himself the legitimate successor.

So it seems that in China in general if you seized the mandate of heaven from a failed dynasty or a pretender (or it was seized for you), you generally proclaimed a gannen in your accession year; if you inherited it naturally, you waited till the start of the next year.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 12, 2012 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
I think you missed a major point.


More like I considered it a given that the first year of a new dynasty would have a new era to go along with it (for many of the reasons you mentioned-mainly no one would want the era name of the 'losers' they had just overthrown). The Ming in particular were enthusiastic about jettisoning all symbols of Mongol rule. It is interesting that some of the other outliers can be explained by internal power struggles.

One of the more oddball things I saw was that the era for the first Ming Emperor (Hongwu) actually predated his enthronement as Chinese Emperor by several months-he had made himself Emperor Of The Ming Dynasty and changed the era name to Hongwu in January, but didn't proclaim himself Emperor of China until September.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I apologize if this is mentioned somewhere earlier in the thread - I don't remember ever coming across it before.

I have just met with my advisor, and he suggested that nengo such as Hôei, Kan'ei, Genroku, Bunka, Bunsei etc. were chosen *cyclically*, and should not properly be called "imperial era names" since they did not change with the change of emperor (or, rather, that they often did change without a change of emperor).

Is there some cyclical system for how each character is chosen? It was my understanding that that was not the case. Certainly, certain characters appear time and again (e.g. Hôei, Hôreki, An'ei, Ansei, Meireki, Meiji), but I didn't think there was a strict cyclical system to this.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
I have just met with my advisor, and he suggested that nengo such as Hôei, Kan'ei, Genroku, Bunka, Bunsei etc. were chosen *cyclically*, and should not properly be called "imperial era names" since they did not change with the change of emperor (or, rather, that they often did change without a change of emperor).

Is there some cyclical system for how each character is chosen?
I do not know that nengo are ever called "imperial era names." I have only come across "era names" or "period names." But since they were promulgated by the imperial court, "imperial era names" would not be necessarily improper.
I have not heard anything about a cyclical choosing of characters either. There is an article in Rekishi Dokuhon listing the nengo that each character appears in, but nothing about it being cyclical. Also in the discussion of Chinese names. Could your advisor be confusing changing the nengo on the cyclical years of 辛酉 and 甲子 with having cyclical names? When nengo were changed and which characters were used are two different issues. Certainly the long period of selection and discussion Nanchin 難陳 mentioned above, as well as the fact that a name that was not chosen one time could be a candidate another time, rules out any automatic cyclical choosing.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
Could your advisor be confusing changing the nengo on the cyclical years of 辛酉 and 甲子 with having cyclical names?


That's what I think is probably happening.

Still, I need to find a good term to refer to these. I feel like "era name" is too vague (what kind of era? The Cenozoic and Pleistocene are eras too, after all, as something like "an era of great urbanization"), but nengô or gengô is too jargony for this particular part of my paper. Ah, well. I'll figure something out Smile

Thanks!
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
lordameth wrote:
Still, I need to find a good term to refer to these. I feel like "era name" is too vague (what kind of era? The Cenozoic and Pleistocene are eras too, after all, as something like "an era of great urbanization"), but nengô or gengô is too jargony for this particular part of my paper. Ah, well. I'll figure something out Smile


'Era Name' should be fine, as that's how they're routinely referred to in virtually every academic text I've read (as opposed to 'periods' like the Kamakura Period, Edo Period, etc). The specific era names are associated with specific years just like the Cenozoic era would be (indeed much more specifically). The only other way that comes to mind would be 'Japanese era names' if you don't want to include the word nengo.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Q18 You are the de facto ruler of a certain nation in the Chinese cultural sphere of influence, and you have decided you want to be recognized by China as king of your nation, and make profit from trade with it. You have had a number of contacts with China, but it has not worked out due to their doubts about your position and the format of your documents. But now the new Chinese emperor is looking for allies, and he accepts you as king. But just as you are about to send a reply missive in the proper form to the emperor using his nengo, you get news that the throne has been claimed by his uncle, who has taken up arms and promulgated his own nengo, and China is in the midst of a civil war. Yabai! If you send a messenger with the drafted document and it turns out the uncle has won, it would not make a good impression to present him with a document dated with his nephew's nengo, would it. What do you do?

PS Who are you?
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 5:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Bethetsu wrote:
Q18 You are the de facto ruler of a certain nation in the Chinese cultural sphere of influence, and you have decided you want to be recognized by China as king of your nation, and make profit from trade with it. You have had a number of contacts with China, but it has not worked out due to their doubts about your position and the format of your documents. But now the new Chinese emperor is looking for allies, and he accepts you as king. But just as you are about to send a reply missive in the proper form to the emperor using his nengo, you get news that the throne has been claimed by his uncle, who has taken up arms and promulgated his own nengo, and China is in the midst of a civil war. Yabai! If you send a messenger with the drafted document and it turns out the uncle has won, it would not make a good impression to present him with a document dated with his nephew's nengo, would it. What do you do?

PS Who are you?


You're Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and the Ming Emperor, Zhu Yunwen, the Jianwen Emperor, is in conflict with his uncle, Zhu Di, later known as the Yongle Emperor, who defeated him and began his own hold on the throne in 1402. I'm not for sure, but since Yoshimitsu was given the title of King of Japan by the Yongle Emperor in 1404, I'm guessing he waited to see who won before sending his letter.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2012 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Yoshimitsu's envoy met with the Jianwen Emperor in 1401, calling himself the 'King Of Japan' (basicaly paying lip service to the inferior position this put him at as opposed to Jianwen so as to start up trade), and was acknowledged as the King of Japan by Jianwen in a reply, so he didn't wait to see who won. Jianwen also ordered him to start using the Chinese calendar.

Since the Yongle Emperor also acknowledged Yoshimitsu as King Of Japan later, one would presume the crafty 'Emperor Shogun' might have had his envoy bring two sets of papers-each one using the appropriate Chinese nengo, and was prepared for either one to be in power upon their arrival in China. Perhaps they even met with both of them of 1401, although I don't recall a record of that (no books here to check). In any case, Yoshimitsu A) seemed to be pretty clueless about the political situation in China and B) was more than happy to deal with whoever was in charge.

With China's emphasis on protocol, I can't see Yoshimitsu trying to substitute the cyclical year for the Chinese nengo or using the Japanese era name in his missives (in an attempt to avoid using the 'enemy' nengo). I seem to remember that a Tokugawa era scholar criticized Yoshimitsu for not only 'submitting' to the Chinese Emperor, but also for using the Chinese era name in his letters.
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