This chime always plays at 8am and 5pm every day in Wazuka village. There were many times we worked on tea farms far away in wild mountain forest, still the chime could be heard very clearly.

We thought that the chime signals morning exercise and time to stop working but the answer turns out to be completely different.

The chime is known as the ‘5pm Chime’ (五時のチャイム) or, more officially, the ‘Municipal Disaster Management Radio Communication Network’ (市町村防災行政無線). It’s actually a daily test of an emergency broadcast system to alert citizens of dangers such as tsunamis and industrial accidents.

Blogger Alice Gordenker gave a very good explanation for the chime on Japan Times’ April 16 2013 column, as well as provided some interesting examples from other Japanese localities in her personal blog. Check them out if you’re interested!