What Is That Tune at 5PM in Tokyo?
In ancient times when Japan was comprised of various farming communities, the shrines and temples rang bells at 5pm to let the workers know that the day had ended. The tradition continues today. When you ask any Japanese person why bells ring throughout Tokyo at 5pm, he or she will answer, “because it’s 5pm.” My children know and love the familiar tones that have shaped their childhoods. During warm spring afternoons in the park, they would look up from their play and know that it was time to go home. There was never any whining or begging for more time; it was 5pm and time to go home for bath and dinner. The bells are a marker of time, a gentle close to a day, and a reminder of days of old.
Here’s a clip to help you envision it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icjcvKeC4xQ
Enjoy the sweet tones.