Site Loader

   Evening Chime of the Clock from The Series “Eight Parlor Views” is a Japanese print
in the Edo period made by Harunobu Suzuki. The size of the print is small,
H28.3cmxW17.6cm. The medium is Polychrome woodblock print; chuban; ink and
color on paper. Currently the work is on view at The Metropolitan Museum of
Art. According to the description, the scene is from a series called “Eight Parlor Views”.  The theme of the work is love. In the scene,
two women are depicted as main subjects. One woman is looking at a garden while
her servant is taking care of her. But the servant does not engage her
job.  She is looking at a clock. She is
busy for checking when her lover comes back. Even though the clock is depicted just
the half in the print, it is an important element to describe unforbidden love
in the scene, also to show their status and power. Because before 18th century,
clocks were treated not as clocks but luxury exotic art objects from European
countries. And in the eighteenth century, a new type of clocks emerged in Japan
based on the ones from Europe. It is Wadokei, which is depicted in the print. This
invention is a clear illustration of the common pattern of Japanese cultural
response to foreign pressure with such a world historical importance.      Unfortunately, there are no specific
documentations of the emergence of clocks in Japan such as when and how they
emerged. However, some say it was in the early part of the fifteenth century
and others say the sixteenth century according to historical
documentations.  The oldest known emergence
of clocks in a book is Biography of Yoshitaka Ouchi-ki. It is
dated the early sixteenth century1. “Among several gifts from India
an instrument is included, which controls the 12 hours, and rings during the
day and night”.2Directly, it is not described
as “a clock”. However,  the instrument
with controlling 12 hours with rings represents of clocks without doubt. Possibly,
the clock was gifted from European countries. The sixteenth century is the time
when St. Francis Xavier, a missionary from Portugal, arrived in Japan to pursue
power of Christianity.  He visited Yamaguchi, where he applied to
Magistrate Yoshitaka Ochi for a permission to start his missionary work, and he
gifted the Official with a mechanical clock. It was a small lantern dock, with
verge escapement and weight driven, available and popular at that time in
western world.3      Also,
we see a presence of clocks on other descriptions. Nobunaga Oda, a powerful
damiyo in the sixteenth century, was one of the earliest emperor in Japan to be
related to western mechanical clocks. In 1569, a document written by Bradley
Louis Frois who was a Portuguese missionary stated: “Koremasa Wada asked me to bring the alarm
clock because Nobunaga wanted to  see it. Nobunaga was in the chamber with a few
young samurai. He was pleased with the clock and wished to have it, although he
thought it too complicated to use. He then invited me to his room and twice
served me tea in a porcelain cup.”4  Moreover,
in 1613,
Don Rodrigo, the Viceroy of the Philippines achieved his mission and was on his
way to home through  Nobispan, a Spanish
colony.  His ship was caught in a storm and wrecked on the coast of Japan,
at Kishiwada, Chiba Prefecture where is next to Tokyo now. This was on 1609.

Ieyasu who was damiyo then offered him a new ship for Rodrigo. With this ship, Rodrigo
ended up reaching Spain safely. A clock was later presented to Ieyasu by the
Spanish Emperor as showing their gratitude. Now, the clock is stored in the
Toshogu Shrine on Kuno Mountain in Sizuoka. And it is the oldest clock in
existence in Japan. The production is unclear. Some scholars say it was made in
Madrid in 1581. However, the others say that the clock and the production was
conducted in Brussels in 1573.5     From
these documentations and events, we can conclude that European clocks are
existed in Japan from the fifteenth century. However, the clocks from Europe
were not important as an object that shows us time for Japanese people then.  Because,
first, there was little need for a clock in the life of most of the people. The
most of Japanese people worked all day and went to bed at nightfall. There were
few public services, no railroads and no contact with the outside world. Hence, they did not need to know exact time to live
their life. Second, dignified Japanese culture of the elite classes considered
it rude to measure the time of visitor’s arrival, duration of stay, or
departure until the seventeenth century. Clocks were therefore never present in
meeting or public rooms. They were major reasons why Japanese did not think clocks were
important objects.6   However, the most significant reason was time
system differences to European countries. The current time system with 24 equal parts is now used throughout
the world. It is called fixed time system and originally from Europe. And
European people have been using since medieval periods. On the other hand, Japanese
used completely different time system until the eighteenth century.  They used a system called seasonal time
system. Japanese divided daytime and nighttime into six equal parts called “Toki.”  The “Toki”, the partitioned unit of time,
varied in length from season to season in accordance with the changing length
of daylight. 7  The clocks
from Europe were designed for the fixed time system, which was not for the
Japanese tradition. Hence, Japanese could not use European clocks functionally.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Therefore, Japanese people needed to make their original clocks to know time
based on their seasonal time system.      Also
around this time, Sakoku was started in Japan. It is literally a chained
country. It was a policy of isolation from the rest of the world and adopted by
the feudal government in the Edo period for the security purpose against
threats by the other countries except Dutch, China and Korea.8 This made
almost impossible to obtain exotic luxury foreign objects including clocks. These
facts leaded to emergence of Wadokei, which is a Japanese style clock in the
eighteenth century.      Some people who had contact European were skilled or had knowledge
in clock-making. Because European came to Japan to spread not only Christianity
but also some cultures and techniques including clock-making.  They also had contact to blacksmiths in
Kyushu and Kyoto. These blacksmiths tried to adapt the Japan’s ancient time
system into new mechanical clocks. The first Wadokei clocks began to appear
from around 1612. They were known as ‘Daimyo clocks’. Only the Daimyo, or high
status people could afford to buy them.9   The Japanese were
particularly accomplished at working with metals such as sward- making. It was
ideal for clock-making. The first recorded clockmaker was a skilled blacksmith
by the name of Tsuda Sukezaemon Masayuki. He was known as the father of
Japanese clock-making. He was the founder of a flourishing clock industry in
Nagasaki, which spread to Nagoya and Kyoto.  According
to records kept by the Tsuda family, after repairing a damaged mechanical clock
which Tokugawa Ieyasu had received as a present from Europe, he constructed an
identical clock and offered it to the shogun. 
Masayuki made his first clock in 1598.10     There were no batteries or other electric sources
until the nineteenth century. Making clocks required different techniques
compare to we used it now. Wadokei maker used technique called Karakuri.

Basically the technique was making for Japanese dolls. Karakuri means as in addition to being a clever mechanism, it includes
mechanical structures. And the workings of the interrelating elements produce a
new movement or function. The source of this movement is either human energy or
a physical mechanism, which is springs.10 In short simple
words, the technique is wind-up by using spring actions.  In general, based on Karakuri, all Japanese clocks use the
verge escapement, with initially the single foliot balance, followed by the
double foliot balance, then returning back to the single foliot balance with
dials.   Wadokei were developed with
unique shapes and mechanisms by using the seasonal time system.  Wa means
Japanese tradition. Dokei comes from Tokei. It means clocks. The most
significant difference to European clocks is using of the seasonal time system
as I motioned. Also, it was the most difficult aspect on making Wadokei and
Japanese craftsmen struggled to adjust the seasonal time system. Wadokei do not
have any functions that they can adjust the time differences by themselves.

Instead of having the function, Wadokei makers or doctors needed to adjust time
once in a while.   In other words, their task was to modify a
uniformly moving clock into a device to designate a daily and monthly variable
time system based on the seasonal time system. Thus they had to change the
speed of the hand in the daytime and night-time and for different seasons, or
had to change the display to designate time during the day and throughout the
year.11 Whereas the clock served to reform the time counting system
in the West, in Japan, it had to be adapted to the seasonal time system.   Since Japanese people used seasonal time
system and they made Wadokei based on it, time indication on the clocks was
also unique and different than European clocks. 
Generally, all Japanese clocks divided the day into 12 hour divisions
with optional intermediary half-hour markers. Some subdivided the hours even
further.  Earlier Wadokei had dials with
turning centers onto which the hour hand was fixed, the main dial being stable
and immobile. Later Wadokei had turning dials with fixed hands, although there
was a large overlap of periods. New types of dials called The Warikoma or Namagata dial was
introduced in the late-1700s and varied the position of the hour markers. Day
and night at all seasons could be correctly indicated. The introduction of the
dial made the double foliot unnecessary and provided a simple solution to the
problem.12   Wadokei were made in various types. They
differed in shapes, mechanism, purposes and so on. There were over 10 types Wadokei.

Dai-dDokei are lantern clocks. They generally have a square or rectangular main
body.  Early clocks are made of iron entirely.  Middle period models
have brass side plates and some components.  Later examples use brass on
most of parts. Dai-Dokei have the clock movement placed on open four legged
stands so that they are at eye level for people seated on the tatami mats. 
They were located in a place called the Tokonoma, Japanese living rooms. 
Stands are ornamentally decorative.  There are huge versions of Dai-Dokei.

They were made for placing mostly in public places such as castles, hallways
and entrance halls.13  Yagura-Dokei are the same style lantern clock
as the Dai-Dokei, but the stand is more strongly-made and is made for siting on
tatami mats.  The stand pyramid design is more likely to tolerate
earthquakes. This type is shown in the Evening
Chime of the Clock.14  Makura-dokei derived their name from the fact
that they resembled ornate wooden head pillows used by geisha. They are
considered to be the most beautiful of Japanese clocks ever made. 
However, there is one big problem. They did not provide accurate time because there
was only an hour hand and they had moveable hour markers on a very small dial.15      Shaku-Dokei
were a unique Japanese invention. They simply told time on a linear scale as
the weight descended. Mostly they were made throughout the Edo period. The
earlier ones first used the foliot, then the pendulum and finally the balance
wheel. The principle is the same in all the various types of shaku-dokei.  In Japanese, Shaku means a Japanese unit of
length. It is roughly a foot.  This type
of clock developed from a lantern clock, a scale first being drawn on the
pillar behind the clock. The next step was to have a back board for the hour
marks with the exposed weight still falling in front and there are in fact clocks
like this. It was a simple step from there to move the scale to the front, box
the weight in and fit a marker to it. This marker can indicate either against
linear movable chapters or against a graph type scale. Most have noon in the middle of the scale. Some start at the top
at noon. Initially the pillar clock was simple and less expensive to produce
than a clock with a circular dial and movable chapters. Thus it was probably
more popular and certainly many have survived.16     Wadokei were developed in Edo period
significantly as clocks and also art objects. However, Meiji period, after Edo,
in 1868 Japan opened to Western influences. It was the end of the Tokugawa
shogun and the restoration of the Emperor.  However, it was not until 1
January 1873, that Emperor Meiji was able to issue a decree whereby Japan was
to abandon its ancient and complicated method of time system and adopt the
simplified European system. The Meiji Decree eliminated all of the traditional temporal
hour clocks and watches of Japan in one fell swoop.  The Meiji government took significant steps
in implementing its modernization program such as developing railroads.   Japanese people were strongly
encouraged to change, and considerable disquiet could be brought upon people
who attempted to retain old customs.  This included the abandonment of
temporal time. Some Wadokei were converted to indicate 24 hour mean time. But almost
all Wadokei was not adapted the new time system and scrapped.   Wadokei are clearly one example of showing us
cultural interaction between Japan and Europe. To adjust the seasonal time
system in Japan, Japanese makers made Wadokei based on European Clocks. They
developed in different shapes and mechanism in the Edo period. they came to the
end because Japanese government decided to adapt European time system.Wadokei were born from European
influences. And they died because of European influences.                                                                                             1   Yamaguchi,
Ryu?ji. Nihon no tokei. 1950.2   Yamaguchi,
Ryu?ji. Nihon no tokei. 1950.3 Ceccarelli, Marco, and Hong-Sen Yan. Proceedings
of HMM 2008: International Symposium on History of Machines and Mechanisms ;.

Dordrecht: Springer, 2009.4 Yamaguchi, Ryu?ji. Nihon
no tokei. 1950.5 Tshugada, Shinzaburo, Wadokei
in Edo, 19606  Isa, Masako, Multicultura,l
society and communication, 20077 Tokugawa, Shuhei, Edo Wa Sekai
Saikou No Titeki Shakai, 20138  Yamaguchi,
Ryu?ji. Nihon no tokei. 1950           


Post Author: admin


I'm Erica!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out