I’m convinced there is something wrong with Japan’s timezone.
Right now in early March, the sun sets at 5:30 pm. Not too bad, it’s winter right? Tokyo has roughly the same latitude as Raleigh, North Carolina so you would expect them to get the same amount of daylight. Which is true; both cities receive about 11.5 hours of daylight on March 1st.
Fast forward a few months and not much has changed, other than longer days.
But look at the hours of useable daylight, especially in late June.
On the longest day of the year, the sun rises in Tokyo at an absurd 4:26 am and sets at 7:00 pm. Those hours in the morning serve no purpose as everyone still goes to work around 8:00 am and the trains don’t even run yet. Most stores (regardless of the time of year) don’t open until 10:00 am, including supermarkets.
Japan also does not use Daylight Saving Time. I’ve read that it’s common for people in Japan to work long hours during the week and relax on the weekend, whereas in the US most people leave work by 6 pm and have time in the evening for other activities, whether it be sports, church, or family time. Perhaps if Japan (specifically the eastern part) had more hours of usable daylight, there would be more time to recover during the week.
With how many signs are illuminated at night all over Japan, that extra energy could be saved by moving to Daylight Saving Time. I find it odd that a country that is so fanatic on conservation and energy efficiency hasn’t done this.
Cover photo by Ed Brambley via Flickr.
Related: Why is Japan kept in the dark? – japantimes.co.jp on 17 OCT 2006