The 5 pm going-home song 5時のチャイム

The 5 o-clock song! In neighborhoods throughout Japan, the end of the day is heralded by songs broadcast via outdoor speakers. It’s a charming feature of life in Japan. Or annoying. Personally, I love it. Songs play for about 2 minutes, starting at 5 pm, though I’ve heard 5:30 and 6 pm in some places. And some towns move the start to 4 pm during the darker winter months (example: 神奈川県大井町).

The purpose of the songs is to test the “disaster prevention administrative radio”「防災行政無線」. This is expressly stated on municipal websites (example: 香取市). The secondary purpose is to provide a measure of the return home time for children 子供の帰宅時間の目安. The following webpage has great information (Japanese):

The daily afternoon music can be described by many terms. Here are several names for this practice:

  • 5-o’clock chimes / 5 pm bell / 5時のチャイム/ goji no chaimu
  • Chime that sounds at 5:00 / 5時になるチャイム / 5-Ji ni naru chaimu
  • Music chime ミュージックチャイム
  • Municipal disaster prevention administrative broadcasting / 市町村防災行政放送 / shichōson bōsai gyōsei musen hōsō
  • Broadcast of disaster prevention administrative radio 防災行政無線の放送
  • Sunset chime 「夕焼けチャイム」
  • Evening chime 夕のチャイム
  • Let’s go back home (chime) お家へかえりましょう(チャイム)
  • Measure of children’s return home time 子供の帰宅時間の目安
  • “Children watch/tracking broadcast” 「子ども見守り放送」
  • “Evening Music” 「夕べの音楽」

The songs vary by city and town (and possibly within the wards of the same city). It is also not uncommon for two songs to be played for 1 minute each. The following seem to be the standard songs:

  • 赤とんぼ / akatonnbo / aka tombo / (Red Dragonfly) (YouTube)
  • 「かえろかえろと」 Kaero kaero to / (Go home, go home) (YouTube)
  • 夕焼け小焼け / 夕焼けこやけ / Yūyakekoyake / Yuyake Koyake (roughly “Red sunset sky”, see blog) (YouTube)

Other songs I’ve heard or read about include:

  • Auld Lang Syne 「オールド・ラング・サイン」
  • Edelweiss エーデルワイス
  • Moon River ムーンリバー

History of the afternoon chimes

I can’t find any definitive history of when the chimes first became widespread, but I did find the following: Fujitsu general 富士通ゼネラル is noted as “one of the largest manufacturers of bōsai musen systems” by a Japan Times article. Per Fujitsu’s website, they entered the disaster prevention administrative radio market in 1973, so perhaps the practice grew more widespread as Japan continued to modernize throughout the 1970s and beyond.

  • 1977: system delivered to Tenryu, Shizuoka 天竜市
  • 1978: system delivered to 出雲市農協、大洲市 (I believe this i Izumo agricultural cooperative in Ozu, Ehime)
  • 1979: system delivered to Ebina, Kanagawa 海老名市

防災行政無線 RC-810 Disaster prevention administrative radio RC-810

Here are some of the songs that I happened to capture:

1 ) Above the rice fields of Chiba

Address: 69瀬戸、印西市、千葉県 / 69 Seto, Inzai-shi, Chiba-ken (map)

2 ) Nokogiriyama 鋸山 (Asama Shrine) (map)

3 ) Adachi-ku 足立区 (Tokyo, near Toneri park 舎人公園) (map)

The shrine at end of video is located at: 35.798152,139.7810736 (map). See also, “What time is the Adachi-ku sunset chime time? 足立区夕焼けチャイム時間?

4 )  From Grand Hotel, Kanda (map)

Notes & Links:

Red Dragonfly:

Kaero Kaero to:

Yūyakekoyake 夕焼け小焼け:

Picture of a pink temple or shrine near the location of video #3 (map):

Pink Shrine Tokyo

Other:

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