Town Chime


In Minnesota where I grew up, tornado sirens are a monthly thing. On the first Wednesday of the month at 1pm, you can hear your neighborhood siren blaring. It’s a friendly reminder of the infrastructure in place for your safety.


When I first came to Japan in 2011, I was surprised to find that their siren towers were used for more than just the occasional disaster warning. Every morning at 7:30 we’d be greeted with the gentle Edelweiss tune. At noon, a lively melody called farmers in to lunch. And at 4:30, signalling my return from work, there was a slower song that reminded me of “Jesus Loves Me” with a twist at the end. That was in Kitajima, a little town tucked away on the island of Shikoku, but town songs are common all over the countryside of Japan. It’s a good way to let farmers know what time it is while they’re out in the fields.

Tokushima Canal, irrigating the area for 300 years.

Minami Alps City had the same system. The only difference was that at the 4:30 chime there was a solemn intro tune followed by a voice addressing the children. The rough translation went like this: “Hello, all you young people. Did you have a good day? Be sure to return home before it gets dark so that tomorrow can be a good day too.”  It finished with the same slow song, dying down with the light.

What’s that? More persimmons?

One Comment Add yours

  1. Deb A Holmes says:

    I’d love a persimmon tree, would they grow here in Minnesota?


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