We estimated the origin time of the 1854 Ansei–Tokai tsunami from the tsunami waveforms recorded at three tide gauge stations (Astoria, San Francisco, and San Diego) on the west coast of North America. The tsunami signal is apparent in the San Francisco and San Diego records, and the arrival time was 0–1 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) on 23 December 1854, whereas the tsunami signal of Astoria is ambiguous, and the arrival time could not be determined from the waveform. The simulated waveforms on the basis of nonlinear dispersive wave theory by assuming an origin time of 0 a.m. GMT on 23 December arrived earlier than the observations. Cross‐correlation functions between the observed and simulated waveforms recorded at San Francisco and San Diego showed a time gap between them of approximately 30 min. Based on these results, we concluded that the origin time of the 1854 Ansei–Tokai tsunami was approximately 00:30 a.m. GMT or 09:46 local time on 23 December. Our result is roughly consistent with reports by a Russian frigate anchored in Shimoda Bay, ranging the earthquake between 09:00 and 09:45 and the tsunami between 09:30 and 10:00. The earthquake was also reported in historical Japanese documents ranging from 8 and 10 o’clock in local time.