During the Edo period, the time in Japan was announced with bell chimes. Obviously, there was a need for some “official” time bells - these were the toki no kane 「時の鐘」, “Bells of Time". The most famous toki-no-kane, located in Asakusa, survived until today and can be seen at the Senso-ji Temple.
The bell, re-casted in 1692 by Makino Narisada at the request of the Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, is 2.12 meters tall and 1.52 meters in diameter and during the Edo period people were able to hear it from far away. The well-known poet Matsuo Bashō, who lived in Fukagawa, was able to hear it:
Sounding through clouds of flower – is it the bell in Ueno or Asakusa?
The other toki-no-kane mentioned was located at the Kan’ei-ji Temple, and can be seen today in the Ueno Park.
An interesting fact is that, like 400 years ago, a monk still rings this bell every day, at 6 o’clock in the morning. But since the bell is now surrounded by buildings, few people can still hear it…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: