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Just for fun, I'm curious about how native speakers do mental translation from Gregorian calendar year (e.g 2011) to Japanese era name 年号 (e.g. 平成23年), and vice versa. Do you have special and preferably fun ways like mnemonics or children songs (something like the ABC song) to help you do the translation on-the-fly?

p/s: Due to subjectiveness of this question, I'm totally fine if this is made into community wiki.

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    I doubt that this is a question about the language. Jun 19, 2011 at 15:46
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    There have to be some difficulty years to deal with: 1989, 1926, 1912. Luckily the post-Meiji Japanese governments don't change era names every few years to have a better luck, so it's much easier.
    – Boaz Yaniv
    Jun 19, 2011 at 17:02
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    I flagged it asking to make it community wiki. :)
    – Alenanno
    Jun 19, 2011 at 17:52
  • does japanese applications usually show date based on gregorian or japanese era?
    – Pacerier
    Jun 19, 2011 at 22:46
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    @crunchyt: I do not think that the use of Japanese era names is uniquely associated with the Japanese language. Jun 20, 2011 at 0:17

1 Answer 1

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From experience, I find Japanese people having lots of trouble converting between Japanese and Gregorian calendar years. I regularly surprise people with my ability to do that as follows (Japanese calendar years are often represented with an alphabet character like S or H.):

Showa Era (1925 to 1989)

  1. Subtract 1900 (e.g. 1976 - 1900 = 76)
  2. Subtract 25 (e.g. 76 - 25 = S 51)

Heisei Era (1989 to 2000)

  1. Count forward from 1989 (e.g. 1989 = H1, 1990 = H2, ...)

Heisei Era (2000 onwards)

  1. Add 11 to post-2000 Western date (e.g. 2010 = H21, 2011 = H22, ...)
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  • That's great! I'm bad at mental math, but I think even I could do that :D Dec 30, 2011 at 22:11
  • This is an excellent system @crunchyt! I'll have to make a point of remembering this one. Mar 19, 2012 at 15:25
  • I think you have an off-by-one error in the last part... 1999 = H11, 2000 = H12, 2010 = H22.
    – M.M
    Mar 31, 2016 at 23:30

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