In my April 16 column in The Japan Times, I reveal the real rationale for the 5 o’clock bell. For the benefit of the uninitiated, I’m referring to a daily broadcast of music that is played on outdoor speakers in virtually every city, town and village in Japan. Most people assume the broadcast is to remind children to head home before dark, but that’s not the true purpose. To learn what is, please read the article; here, I’m just providing samples so you can hear the sounds for yourself.
Where I live the music played every day at 5 o’clock is “Yuyake koyake,” 夕焼小焼, a Japanese folksong written in 1923. Here’s how it plays in the city of Kashiwa in Chiba Prefecture:
Another popular choice is “Ieji” 家路, which means “the road home.” Some of you may know it as “Going Home,”based on a Dvorak melody (Largo, from the New World Symphony). Here’s a recording of it playing in Fukuroi City, Shizuoka Prefecture.
Fujimi City in Saitama made a rather interesting selection:
That was “Love is Blue,” or 恋はみずいろKoi wa mizu iro.
And finally, here’s “Go Tell Aunt Rhody,” as played at noon in Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture. In Japanese, it’s called “Musunde hiraite” むすんでひらいて in Japanese.
There are hundreds of these videos on YouTube. I found one that had been viewed 37,976 times since it was posted four years ago.
Update May 8: As per a reader request, I’m adding a link to the blog mentioned in the JT column