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A Word on Dates

Where possible, we've attempted to include days and months as well as years to enhance the usefulness of the chronolgy. Specific days, however, must be treated with a grain of salt. Translating Japanese dates to their western equivilants is quite difficult and even with chronological aids can be a frustrating exercise. This is due to a number of complexities inherent in the old Japanese calander. Firstly, and most broadly, time was measured in what we might call 'Imperial ages'. These were periods (or eras) normally named by the emperor (and to sound auspcious) and which continued for a finite number of years. For an example, the Genki period lasted from 1570 until mid-1573, at which point it became the Tensho period. 1571 would thus be called the second year of Genki.

Simple enough so far, but a problem comes in concerning the months. Due to the lunar calander then in use, Japanese months, for our purposes, were about one month early. So, if one were to see the date 'the fourth month of the second year of Genki'(or Genki/4), the western equivilant would be May 1571 (as opposed to April 1571, as the 'fourth month' part would imply). That's the easy part; the trick comes with the New Year. As the lunar new year falls about a month later then the solar year (our standard, of course), the 12th month of Genki 2 would actually roughly correspond to January of 1572, as opposed to December of 1571. Needless to say, this can play havoc with the placement of exact days, and the truth of the matter is that there's no easy way to reconcile it. For this reason one is liable to encounter all sorts of conflicting dates in western sources (and Japanese as well for that matter), sometimes glaring ones.

For the most part, and due largely to time constraints, we've tended to list the most commonly accepted dates, reffering to Japanese sources when there's an obvious discrepancy in our western sources. As time permits, we intend to both reconcile ALL dates with Japanese texts and list the historical readings as well as the Gregorian equivilants.

We anticipate that errors lurk here and there in the chronologies; observant readers should feel encouraged to call our attention to them.