Nengo or Japanese Period Names

When using markings to identify Japanese Satsuma Pottery, it is important to know during which time period, or "Nengo" the piece was made. Knowing this fact will allow you or the buyer to make a better and more informed decision about the price and source of the piece.

The most commonly found Satsuma Pottery will be from the Meiji Period, which is from 1868 to today. During this time the potters and kilns of Satsuma and neighboring regions were producing lots of items which were sold abroad to collectors and enthusiasts. These items were of lower quality than ones made before this time.

Below you will find a table that shows the dates and markings associated with the different time periods along with the name.

1704 宝永 Houei
1711 正徳 Shoutoku
1716 享保 Kyouhou
1736 元文 Genbun
1741 寛保 Kanpou
1744 延享 Enkyou
1748 寛延 Kan'en
1751 宝暦 Houreki
1764 明和 Meiwa
1772 安永 An'ei
1781 天明 Tenmei
1789 寛政 Kansei
1801 享和 Kyouwa
1804 文化 Bunka
1818 文政 Bunsei
1830 天保 Tenpou
1844 弘化 Kouka
1848 嘉永 Kaei
1854 安政 Ansei
1860 万延 Man'en
1861 文久 Bunkyuu
1864 元治 Genji
1865 慶応 Keiou
1868 明治 Meiji
1912 大正 Taishou
1926 昭和 Shouwa
1989 平成 Heisei

The Japanese calendar is also referred to using the period name, followed by a number such "Meiji 2". This is used as before the Japanese began to use the Gregorian calendar in 1873, the years were marked following the succession of a new emperor. The period was named after a few years into the reign of the Emperor and ran for his entire govern-ship.

To covert a Japanese year to a western year, follow this simple rule:

Take the Japanese year, Example: "Meiji 14"

  1. Subtract 1 from the number.
  2. Find the beginning year of the reign of the Emperor of that period. In this example, the Meiji period or Nengo, runs from 1868 to 1912.
  3. Add the number from the previous calculation and this gives the western year.
  4. Meiji 14 = 14-1 = 13. 1868 + 13 = 1881
    Meiji 23 = 23-1 = 22. 1868 + 22 = 1890

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