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.
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"
- Subtract 1 from the number.
- 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.
- Add the number from the previous calculation and this gives the western year.
Meiji 14 = 14-1 = 13. 1868 + 13 = 1881
Meiji 23 = 23-1 = 22. 1868 + 22 = 1890