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2FTraditional Japanese Clocks

Introduction of this section
Here we are exhibiting various Traditional Japanese Clocks or Wadokei, made during the Edo era, when the seasonal time system was in operation. In this system, each year was devived into 24 seasons. Both day and night were defined by sunrise and sunset, and split into six equal hours, so that the length of one hour in both day and night changes from season to season. During the Edo period, many different types of clocks were made with full of Japanese ideas to tell time using this system. These clocks were rendered redundant after 1873, when the fixed time system was adopted.

Astronomical Clock 'Shumisengi'

audio guide
Manufactured by Hisashige Tanaka
The 'Shumisengi' Astronomical Clock' was manufactured in 1850 by Hisashige Tanaka, the founder of Toshiba who became known as 'Karakuri Giemon' or 'The Thommas Edison of the East' in his later years. The complicated technologies he applied in this clock enabled him to go on and create his masterpiece clock, 'Mannen-jimeisho' or Perpetual Astronomical Myriad year clock in 1851. It incorporated every important timepiece technology including advanced astronomical features. Fearing that the tenets of Buddhism might lose influence with the spread of Western Copernican theory, Hisashige was asked to design the clock to promote the Shumisen cosmology, the geocentric theory in Buddhism, according to which the sun and moon rotate around the Shumi-mountain. The pointer on the lid indicates 24 seasons, and the sun and moon revolve based on their accurate cycles, and in the main body, the clock shows seasonal time with movable hour markers along the dial.