• Kawagoe, Saitama


Before this date, Japan used flexible timekeeping that changed with the seasons. Daytime, from dawn to dusk, was divided into six “hours.” Likewise, nighttime, from dusk to dawn, was also divided into six “hours.” As daytime became longer in spring, each daylight “hour” also became progressively longer. At the same time, then, each night “hour” became progressively shorter as nighttime shrank.

It is doubtful that this system of timekeeping would have much acceptance in this day and age. While farmers even today may continue with the old system in spirit, in effect following the maxim of “early to bed and early to rise . . .,” how would the old system affect city folks today? Since, in the Tokyo area, one daylight “hour” would vary from roughly 2.5 hours long in summer to about 1.5 hours long in winter, employees would be staying at their desks nearly twice as long in summer as compared to winter!

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