Saimei period

The Saimei period is a chronological timeframe during the Asuka period of Japanese history. The Saimei period describes a span of years which were considered to have begun in the 1315th year of the Yamato dynasty.[1]

This periodization is congruent with the reign of Empress Saimei, which is traditionally considered to have been from 655 through 662.[2]


The adoption of the Sexagenary cycle calendar (Jikkan Jūnishi) in Japan is attributed to Empress Suiko in 604;[3] and this Chinese calendar continued in use throughout the Saimei period.

In 645, the system of Japanese era names (年号,, nengō,, lit. "year name") was introduced.[4] However, after the reign of Emperor Kotoku, this method of segmenting was temporarily abandoned or allowed to lapse. This interval continued during the Saimei period.

Neither Empress Saimei's reign nor the Saimei periodization are included in the list of nengō for this explicit duration of time, which comes after Hakuchi and before Suchō.

In the post-Taika or pre-Taihō chronology, the first year of Empress Saimei's reign (斉明天皇元年 or 斉明天皇1年) is also construed as the first year of the Saimei period (斉明1年).[5]

Non-nengō periodEdit

Non-nengō periods in the pre-Taihō calendar were published in 1880 by William Bramsen.[1] These were refined in 1952 by Paul Tuschihashi in Japanese Chronological Tables from 601 to 1872.[5]

The pre-Tahiō calendar included two non-nengō gaps or intervals in the chronological series:

  • Taika, August 645–February 650.[6]
  • Hakuchi, February 650–December 654.[7]
    • Non-nengō dating systems
  • Shuchō, July–September 686.[8]
    • Non-nengō dating systems
  • Taihō, March 701–May 704.[6]

Nengō were not promulgated (or were allowed to lapse) during the gap years between Hakuchi and Shuchō, and in another gap between Shuchō and Taihō.

Concurrent Chronologies
Non-nengō periods Nengō eras Shinengō[9] Yamato dynasty duration Western calendar dates
Taika [6] 1305 645[10]
Hakuchi [7] 1310 650[11]
Saimei's reign[1] 1315 655[12]
Tenji's reign[1] 1322 662[13]
Kōbun's reign[14] Sujaku[15] 1332[1] 672[16]
Temmu's reign Hakuhō[17] 1333[1] 673[18]
Suchō [8] 1346 686[19]
Jitō's reign[1] 1347 687[20]
Taika[21] 1350 695[21]
Mommu's reign[1] 1357 697[22]
Taihō[6] 1361 701[23]

Events of the Saimei periodEdit

  • 654 (Hakuchi 4): Emperor Kōtoku, in the 10th year of his reign (孝徳天皇10年), dies at age 59; and his nephew and heir declines the succession (senso). Shortly thereafter, Empress Saimei formally accedes to the throne (sokui).[24]
  • 655 (Saimei 1) or "the 1st year of Saimei's reign (斉明天皇元年: A new period is marked by the beginning of the reign of Empress Saimei, but the end of the previous nengō in Hakuchi 6 did not presage the commencement of a new nengō. This dating system was allowed to lapse during Saimei's reign.
  • 661 (Saimei 7, 7th month): Empress Saimei, in the 7th year of her reign (斉明天皇7年), designated her son as her heir; and modern scholars construe this as meaning that this son would have received the succession (senso) after her death or abdication. Shortly after she did die at age 68, Emperor Tenji could be said to have acceded to the throne (sokui).[25]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Murray, David. (1894). The Story of Japan, p. 402, p. 402, at Google Books, citing William Bramsen. (1880). Japanese Chronological Tables, pp. 54-55, p. 54, at Google Books; compare, the Japanese National Diet Library website explains that "Japan organized its first calendar in the 12th year of Suiko (604)", which was a pre-nengō time frame.
  2. ^ Murray, p. 402, p. 402, at Google Books; the system of counting from year-periods (nengō) do not ordinarily overlap with the reigns of the early monarchs; and generally, a new one was chosen whenever it was deemed necessary to commemorate an auspicious or ward off a malign event.
  3. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Jikkan Jūnishi" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 420, p. 420, at Google Books; n.b., Louis-Frédéric is pseudonym of Louis-Frédéric Nussbaum, see Deutsche Nationalbibliothek Authority File Archived 2012-05-24 at
  4. ^ Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Annales des empereurs du Japon, p. 30., p. 30, at Google Books.
  5. ^ a b Tsuchihashi, Paul. (1952). Japanese Chronological Tables from 601 to 1872, p. 16.
  6. ^ a b c d Nussbaum, "Taika" at p. 924, p. 924, at Google Books
  7. ^ a b Nussbaum, "Hakuchi" at p. 280, p. 280, at Google Books.
  8. ^ a b Nussbaum, "Shuchō" at p. 889, p. 889, at Google Books.
  9. ^ Shinengō used prior to the reestablishment of the nengō system in 701 are usually called itsunengō (逸年号). A list of shinengō and more information can be seen in the Japanese Wikipedia page ja:私年号.
  10. ^ NengoCalc (645) 大化 Taika, online conversion of Japanese dates into their Western equivalents; calculation is based on tables from Tsuchihashi and Zöllner.
  11. ^ NengoCalc (650) 白雉 Hakuchi
  12. ^ NengoCalc (655) 斉明 Saimei
  13. ^ NengoCalc (622) 天智 Tenji
  14. ^ Brown, Delmer M. et al. (1979). Gukanshō, p. 268 n39., p. 268, at Google Books; post-Meiji historians position the reign of Emperor Kōbun between the reigns of Emperor Tenji and Emperor Temmu, but pre-Meiji historians did not construe Prince Ōtomo in the traditional order of succession; compare Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan, p. 52; and see Imperial Household Agency (Kunaichō): 天智天皇 (38)
  15. ^ Murray, p. 402, p. 402, at Google Books; Sujaku is also known as an Itsunengō (逸年号)
  16. ^ NengoCalc (672) 弘文 Kōbun
  17. ^ Murray, p. 402, p. 402, at Google Books; Hakuhō, also known as Itsunengō; compare Nussbaum, "Hakuhō" at p. 280, p. 280, at Google Books; Hakuhou jidai, JAANUS (Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System), 2001; retrieved 16 Sept 2009.
  18. ^ NengoCalc (673) 弘文 Temmu
  19. ^ NengoCalc (686) 朱鳥 Suchō
  20. ^ NengoCalc (687) 持統 Jitō
  21. ^ a b Brown, p. 270, p. 270, at Google Books; excerpt, "The eras that fell in this reign were: (1) the remaining seven years of Shuchō [(686+7=692?)]; and (2) Taika, which was four years long [695-698]. (The first year of this era was kinoto-hitsuji [695].) ...In the third year of the Taka era [697], Empress Jitō yielded the throne to the Crown Prince."
  22. ^ NengoCalc (697) 文武 Mommu
  23. ^ NengoCalc (701) 大宝 Taihō
  24. ^ Varley, H. Paul. (1980). Jinnō Shōtōki, p. 44; a distinct act of senso is unrecognized prior to Emperor Tenji; and all sovereigns except Jitō, Yōzei, Go-Toba, and Fushimi have senso and sokui in the same year until the reign of Emperor Go-Murakami.
  25. ^ Titsingh, p. 54., p. 54, at Google Books


  • Bramsen, William. (1880). Japanese Chronological Tables: Showing the Date, According to the Julian or Gregorian Calendar, of the First Day of Each Japanese Month, from Tai-kwa 1st year to Mei-ji 6th year (645 AD to 1873 AD): with an Introductory Essay on Japanese Chronology and Calendars. Tokyo: Seishi Bunsha. OCLC 35728014
  • Brown, Delmer M. and Ichirō Ishida, eds. (1979). Gukanshō: The Future and the Past. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-03460-0; OCLC 251325323
  • Murray, David. (1894). The Story of Japan. New York, G.P. Putnam's Sons. OCLC 1016340
  • Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric and Käthe Roth. (2005). Japan encyclopedia. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-01753-5; OCLC 58053128
  • Ponsonby-Fane, Richard Arthur Brabazon. (1959). The Imperial House of Japan. Kyoto: Ponsonby Memorial Society. OCLC 194887
  • Titsingh, Isaac. (1834). Nihon Odai Ichiran; ou, Annales des empereurs du Japon. Paris: Royal Asiatic Society, Oriental Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland. OCLC 5850691
  • Tsuchihashi, Paul Yashita, S.J. (1952). Japanese chronological tables from 601 to 1872 (邦曆西曆對照表: 自推古九年至明治五年, Hōreki seireki taishōhyō: Suiko kyūnen yori Meiji gonen ni itaru). Tokyo: Sophia University. OCLC 001291275
  • Varley, H. Paul. (1980). A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231049405; OCLC 6042764
  • Zöllner, Reinhard. (2003). Japanische Zeitrechnung: ein Handbuch Munich: Iudicium Verlag. ISBN 9783891297834; OCLC 249297777

External linksEdit

Preceded by
nengō eras in abeyance
Succeeded by
Saimei period
Reign of Empress Saimei
Succeeded by