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Ansei (安政 ?) was a Japanese era name (年号, nengō, ?, lit. "year name") after Kaei and before Man'en. This period spanned the years from 1854 through 1860. The reigning emperor was Kōmei-tennō (孝明天皇 ?).


Change of era

  • Ansei gannen (安政元年 ?); November 27, 1854: The new era name of Ansei (meaning "tranquil government") was created to herald the beginning of a peaceful period. The impetus and explanation for this change of era names was said to have been the burning of the Palace in Kyoto in the preceding summer.[1]

The new era name was derived from an hortatory aphorism: "Rule peacefully over the masses, then the ruler will remain in his place" (庶民安政、然後君子安位矣).

Although the notion seems appealing, the arrival of the Black Ships and Commodore Matthew C. Perry is not specifically recognized as a factor in the change of era names.

Events of the Ansei era

  • Ansei 2 (1855): Work was begun on re-constructing the Imperial Palace after the devastating fire of Kaei 7, and the project was completed in nine months.[2]
  • Ansei 2, on the 21st day of the 11th month (1855): The emperor moved into the reconstructed palace, having previously lived in the Shōgo-in and then Katsura-no-miya. The people were permitted to view the grand Imperial progress.[2]
  • Ansei 2 (November 11, 1855): Great Ansei Earthquake in Edo, one of the Ansei Great Quakes, with resulting fire damage and loss of life.[3] Epicenter -- (Latitude: 36.000/Longitude: 140.000), 6.9 magnitude on the Richter Scale.[4]...Click link for NOAA/Japan: Significant Earthquake Database
  • Ansei 4 (November 15, 1857): Nagasaki Medical School is opened. Dr. Pompe van Meerdevoort gave the first formal public lecture on medical and surgical sciences at the new school, which became as well the first such lecture to be delivered in any Japanese venue.[5]
  • Ansei 5 (April 9, 1858): The 1858 Hietsu earthquake kills hundreds.
  • Ansei 5 (1858): The initial establishment of Keio University, seven years before the beginning of the Keio era; nevertheless, the university was named after the later era. This is the oldest existing institution of higher learning in Japan.[6]
  • Ansei 5 (July 29, 1858): Tairo Ii Naosuke signs Japanese-American Treaty of Peace and Amity (also known as the "Harris Treaty"), which was a follow-up to the 1854 Treaty of Kanagawa.[7]
  • Ansei 5 (1858): Beginning of Ansei Purge at the order of Ii Naosuke on behalf of the bakufu.[8]
  • Ansei 7 (1860): Fire at Edo Castle.
Edo Castle's Sakurada Gate (Sakurada-mon): The assassination of Ii Naosuke occurred nearby.


  1. ^ Satow, Ernest Mason. (1905). Japan 1853-1864, Or, Genji Yume Monogatari, p. 11.
  2. ^ a b Ponsonby-Fane, Richard. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794-1869. p. 324.
  3. ^ Smitts, Gregory. "Shaking up Japan: Edo Society and the 1855 Catfish Picture Prints", Journal of Social History, No 39, No. 4, Summer 2006.
  4. ^ Online "Significant Earthquake Database" -- U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC)
  5. ^ Whitney, Willis Norton. (1885). "Notes on the history of medical progress in Japan," Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, pp. 841-842.
  6. ^ Ozaki, Yukio. (2001). The Autobiography of Ozaki Yukio, p. 21.
  7. ^ Cullen, Louis. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582-1941: Internal and External Worlds, p. 180-186.
  8. ^ Cullen, pp. 184-188.
  9. ^ Kusunoki, pp. 52-66; Cullen, p. 184.


  • Cullen, L.M. (2003). A History of Japan, 1582-1941: Internal and External Worlds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-82115-X (cloth) ISBN 0-521-529918-2 (paper)
  • Kusunoki Sei'ichirō (1991). Nihon shi omoshiro suiri: Nazo no satsujin jiken wo oe. Tokyo: Futami bunko.
  • Ozaki, Yukio. (2001). The Autobiography of Ozaki Yukio: The Struggle for Constitutional Government in Japan. [Translated by Fujiko Hara]. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 10-ISBN 0-691-05095-3 (cloth)
  • Ponsonby-Fane, Richard A. B. (1956). Kyoto: The Old Capital of Japan, 794-1869. Kyoto: The Ponsonby Memorial Society.
  • Satow, Ernest Mason. (1905). Japan 1853-1864, Or, Genji Yume Monogatari. Tokyo: Naigwai Shuppan Kyokwai.
  • Whitney, Willis Norton. (1885). "Notes on the history of medical progress in Japan," Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, [Reprinted from Vol. 12, pp. 245-270.] Yokohama: R.J. Meiklejohn & Company....Link to digitized version of this lecture text

See also

External links

Ansei 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
Gregorian 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860
Preceded by
Era or nengō

Succeeded by


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