Festival celebrating Japan’s first clock held in Shiga shrine


Women and men clad in ancient Japanese court dress took part in an annual clock festival Friday at a shrine to a seventh century emperor in Shiga Prefecture who is said to be the founding father of the clock time system in Japan.

As musicians played flutes and drums, the participants, including representatives of the clock industry, offered the latest products from Japanese clock makers to Omi Shrine to show its deity, Emperor Tenji (626-672), how clocks have developed.

According to the shrine in Otsu, Emperor Tenji introduced a water clock known as rokoku in Shiga’s capital, where the shrine is situated, on April 25, 671. The emperor is said to have believed in the importance of clocks to Japan’s development.

The ringing of the bell of the first clock in Japan was recorded in the “Nihon Shoki” (“The Chronicles of Japan”), an ancient book of history.

April 25 corresponds to June 10 in the solar calendar, thus June 10 was designated as Clock Day in Japan in 1920. The shrine, built in 1940, started holding the festival every June 10 in 1941.