Modern Japanese Era Names by Wanikani Level

Modern Era Names and Wanikani Levels

Date Began Name Meaning WK levels hiragana Emperor
1868 Enlightened Rule 6, 16 めいじ 明治
1912 Great Justice 1, 2 たいしょう 大正
1926 Brilliant Harmony 37, 9 しょうわ 昭和
1989 Achieving Peace 4, 11 へいせい 明仁(あきひと)
May 1, 2019 Auspicious harmony? 11, 9 れいわ 皇太子徳仁親王

I thought that since the merest Japanese third grade child would know these, we should too. Each kanji is linked to the Wanikani definition.

In a few weeks, we will be able to add the new era name!

If you have anything that you would like to share about the eras, or the kanji that represent them, please feel free to post here.


Ah, maybe that’s something I could add to my giant list of proper nouns. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’m currently being taught 縄文 and 古墳 as well, but so far WaniKani is yet to mention that they’re both pre-historic era names. Oh, though apparently I’ll be learning 弥生 in a few levels, which is explicitly defined as “Yayoi Period”.

(Side note, 明治 is level 16 vocab, and 昭和 is level 37)


Fun fact, the school I teach at is known as the 縄文 school as a large settlement from that period was found nearby with loads of artifacts. There’s a really interesting museum nearby and a reconstructed village - and every year the students make 縄文 style pottery and wood carvings to decorate the school. Cool example of how modern life and history come together, and its especially important in local communities!


Thanks! I’ll add a link for the WK vocab. :slight_smile:

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Are you in Chiba, by any chance? They’ve got the Kasori Shell Mounds, which date from the Jomon period.

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Nice timing.

Since the emperor is changing, I asked my husband how the period names were chosen the other day. He said they’re mostly chosen from ancient texts and some of the selected kanji, like 昭 in 昭和, aren’t used in modern Japanese.


Nope, all the way up in Aomori-ken! There’s a lot of Jomon stuff up in Tohoku too, and of course a lot of Ainu related things in Hokkaido! (Having 2 history degrees and being close to all this stuff is a dream come true! If only I could read the museum information…)

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Oh wow, didn’t know that was an era… a few years back, I tried to read an history book, but stopped at 弥生. I can’t even remember what happened (started cultivating and multiple kingdoms were fighting each other or something? Welp, I guess I can just start over)

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Lies! You’re supposed to be level 36!

It’s a certain definition of “few”.

Or possibly a certain definition of “level 36”. :stuck_out_tongue:

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What does 令和 mean really? Is demeanor an accurate translation? Congrats to Japan for the new era.

I added the new name to my list. I am not sure that there is consensus yet on the English translation, but I will call it “auspicious harmony” for now. If anyone can suggest a better very simple translation, please do so.

There is discussion here and here.

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