A rising sun

July 11, 2006

I like Japan very much. But the thing I don’t like is how time works here. Strange huh?

Well the short part of the story is the sun rises too early – which isn’t bad initself but the consequence is that the sun then sets too early! In the middle of summer it gets dark at 7.30pm. This sucks if you do sports cos this limits your options. In my humble opinion Japan would be better at some sports if they changed their time keeping.

Here is a map of the world showing times.


The lines running vertically show changes in time. Very interesting, for example parts of Australia are 30minutes behind other parts! But look at Japan.

Can you see all the lines converging? Japan appears to cover three times zones. It keeps the same time as Korea! (Perhaps this is the historical root of my problem Japan used to count Korea as part of its sovereign territory Annexed 1910-1945)

Now of course I am from a more northerly country than Japan. Even in southern Scotland it gets dark at 11pm in summer (and with a long twilight it can still be light after midnight). However I am also an eminently fair and reasonable man and I’m not just demanding Japan act like my own country in a Perry like fashion – something the Japanese are very sensitive to.

I am also not just talking about daylight saving time. In Europe and the United States, the clocks are switched an hour forward in the summer. The main purpose of Daylight Saving Time is to make better use of daylight and save energy. Equatorial and tropical countries (lower latitudes) do not observe Daylight Saving Time since the daylight hours are similar during every season, so there is no advantage to moving clocks forward during the summer.

Japan however shares its latitude with Madrid and New York; it is firmly a temperate country (although it does have some sub tropical islands notably Okinawa).

I am told, but have no evidence, that the national Diet in Japan are debating whether to introduce DST beginning in summer 2007. I was also told that there is some resistance to this as many believe it will directly lead to longer working hours for the countries already overworked ‘salarimen’.

However in my opinion DST wouldn’t really help much. It would still see winter sunrise at 6.30am and sunset at 4:30pm. I think the clock should be put back at least 1 hour but ideally 1.5 hours in the whole of Japan all the time to correct a distorted time in Japan.

Evidence for this? Well look at these sunrise and sunset times for various cities (today July 11th 2006) and see what you think (source)

Northern Hemisphere:

Tokyo, Japan
Sunrise: 4:33am Sunset: 6:59pm

New York, USA
Sunrise: 5:33am Sunset: 8:29pm

Los Angeles, USA
Sunrise: 5:49am Sunset: 8:06pm

Madrid, Spain
Sunrise: 6:54am Sunset: 9:48pm

Rome, Italy
Sunrise: 5:43am Sunset: 8:47pm

Glasgow, Scotland
Sunrise: 4:43am Sunset: 9:59pm

Seoul, South Korea
Sunrise: 5:19am Sunset: 7:55pm

Shanghai, China
Sunrise: 4:54am Sunset: 6:59pm

Hong Kong, China
Sunrise: 5:46am Sunset: 7:12pm

Moscow, Russia
Sunrise: 3:57am Sunset: 9:13pm

Reykjavik, Iceland
Sunrise: 3:28am Sunset: 11:37pm

Singapore, Singapore (On the equator) see here
Sunrise: 7:04am Sunset: 7:14pm

Southern Hemisphere (winter):

Bogota, Colombia
Sunrise: 5:49am Sunset: 6:13pm

Johannesburg, South Africa
Sunrise: 6:55am Sunset: 5:31pm

Sydney, Australia
Sunrise: 6:58am Sunset: 5:04pm

It is obvious that the sun in Japan is rising too early. The countries where it gets up earlier are 1,000’s of kilometers further north. Look at my home country, Scotland (Glasgow) 1400km north of Tokyo. The sun gets up at 4:43, 10 minutes later than Tokyo but goes down at 9:59 exactly 3 hours later.

Fix this Japan please! I think Japan’s football team will improve as a result and I know I will have more fun kayaking in the evenings.

I don’t know the cultural reasons for this there may well be some. Also Japan is not the only culprit – China is almost exactly the same – they are no use at football either. Is there a link?


2 Responses to “A rising sun”

  1. […] I had fun but I only had about 1hour and 40 minutes paddling. It was pitch dark at 6.20pm – that’s what I was talking about. […]

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