20 March 2012

5-Thirsty in Japan?

In the Philippines, one of the beer companies featured a TV commercial which introduced the concept of "5-Thirsty," i.e. at 5:30pm, after work hours, it's time to invite friends and drink... beer, of course.

Anyway, here in Japan, I've noticed something happening at around 5:30pm as well. And no, it's actually not a 5-Thirsty thing. I've noticed it for a long time now, but it is only today that I paid attention.

It's two things.

Firstly, there are PA ("public address," in case you didn't know) systems in all neighborhoods here in Japan. It has many benefits, obviously, like when there's some impending disaster like a tornado or tsunami or fire and so on, or some message from the local government (and maybe national government?) needs to be disseminated fast.

But, they play chime tunes as well on those PA systems. Like, if I'm not mistaken, at 12 noon, they play a chime to signal 12 noon. Maybe it is to signal lunch break.

In schools, at the start and at the end of every class, or at the start and at the end of public announcements from the school administration as well, there's a chime that plays, that I believe is usually the same sound as the Big Ben's chime.

15 minutes or less before closing time, stores usually play an Auld Lang Syne chime right before announcing closing time.

Today, at exactly 5pm, there's this chime that played again for the Nth time now since I've been here in Japan. I did some search and apparently it's called "the Chime of Love," and the tune is from a song / nursery rhyme entitled "Yuyake Koyake," which I believe literally translates to Sunset Burning. If you haven't guessed yet, it is to signal the sunset and it is meant to inform children, for their own safety, that it is time to go home.

Here's a video capturing the Yuyake Koyake "chime of love" moment during summertime at one rather urban neighborhood in Japan: http://youtu.be/18-YzchO6xs

And here's a video of someone playing a more complex version of the tune on piano: http://youtu.be/k3rtMAr79AQ

I asked a Japanese friend and, considering the different sunset times per season here, he informed me that Yuyake Koyake does not usually play at 5pm. Here are the play times, at least here in Atsugi, Kanagawa:

March, April - 5pm
May to August - 5:30pm
September, October - 5pm
November to February - 4:30pm

For more information, I found this explanation (and another recording of an actual Yuyake Koyake "chime of love" at another neighborhood here in Japan) which might be interesting to you as well: http://youtu.be/Iez63nk6J6w


  1. for me- the chime is my signal to start cooking dinner if i haven't started yet :D