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Edo period European style clock

 
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 6:38 am    Post subject: Edo period European style clock Reply with quote
This is a clock in the British Museum. It appears to have been made in the 1700s for a member of the Tokugawa family (based on the Aoi crest that appears in the design). If you look at some of the detail pics you can see that it uses the traditional Japanese "hour" of 120 minutes each. According to the information on the placard it was not a practical device, requiring a servant to adjust it regularly.


20130509 388 by tatsushu, on Flickr
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lordameth
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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Though, while not very efficient or anything, I get the impression that daimyo did use such clocks, and did have their servants adjust them regularly.

It's a novelty, to be sure, but not entirely impractical - still tells the correct time, so long as it's kept adjusted...
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JLBadgley
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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
True: It is going to be useful as long as it is kept going. It isn't a model for an effective timekeeping solution in and of itself, however, and definitely not one for the common people. The bells of the local temple or a drum tower set up for timekeeping purposes would be the primary source for telling people what time it is (and what you would set the clocks by).

BTW, an interesting note: European clocks originally only had the hour hand, and I would suspect that the Japanese ones would as well--the exhibition on clocks in the British Museum mentioned that it wasn't until things like trains, where it was important to know time down to the minute, that most clocks worried about such things.


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lordameth
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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Quote:
the exhibition on clocks in the British Museum mentioned that it wasn't until things like trains, where it was important to know time down to the minute, that most clocks worried about such things.


Ooh. I hadn't thought of that. Brilliant.
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PostPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Very cool-I had no idea something like this existed.

It would have been virtually impossible for an accurate clock based on Japanese hours to have been built. The hours were temporal hours that weren't actually 120 minutes, but varied with the time of year. Day and night were both divided up into six equal "hours", so in summer daytime hours would be longer than the night hours and vice-versa in winter-and technically would change day by day. Until digital technology came along and you could in theory program a timepiece to take this all into account, it would require constant adjustments. There were probably mechanical clocks built in the Edo period that could be adjusted for this, but they wouldn't be all that accurate (and as Josh points out, really didn't need to be).

That brings up another question-how did the temples know when to signal the hour? You could use a sundial during the day, but obviously not at night-some sort of hourglass (which would need one for days, one for nights, with the amount of sand being adjusted at times) or water clock? Burning of incense?
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PostPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Actually wiki does a good job in this case to explain how a clock may have accomodated this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_clock
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