It’s that time of year again. Today (here in the U.S.) we all had to “spring forward” and set our clocks up one hour for what is known as “daylight saving time” or DST.
As always, some among us will complain about having to make the change. And to some the difference made by the time change is negligible. For those who work from sunup to sundown, there is no daylight saved by setting the clock forward in the spring.
My father often literally worked from sunup to sundown during the spring and summer months on the farm when I was a boy. And he used to say, “I don’t care which way it is, I just wish they would keep the same time the year ’round.”
DST, however, was initiated for people living in the city, not for rural people. It was first proposed back in 1895 and implemented for the first time during World War I. DST was adopted as a way to save energy (electricity), and that remains one good reason for its continued use through all the years since the world wars.
For town people who work eight hours a day (such as 9 to 5), DST increases the time after work and before dark for mowing the lawn and gardening, for golf and other sports, as well as for family picnics and other activities. And in addition to reducing the amount of energy used, it is claimed that it also reduces the number of traffic accidents, as there are few wrecks during daylight hours than after dark.
Unlike here in the U.S., there is no daylight saving time in Japan. Actually, there was DST in Japan from 1948 to 1951 due to the initiative of the U.S.-led occupation army. But after Japan’s sovereignty was restored in 1952, there has never been DST there since.
Because DST was forced on the Japanese in those years after WWII, it has remained unpopular with the public through the decades since. Starting in the late 1990s, however, a movement to reinstate DST, claiming that it would save energy and increase recreational time, gained some popularity in Japan. But it has yet to be implemented.
Largely because of my roots as a Missouri farm boy, I have been an “early to bed, early to rise” person all my life. And I am constantly amazed at how so many people miss the most beautiful part of the day, the time just before and after sunrise. That is especially true during the spring and summer months.
When I was visiting back in Japan in May 2010, most mornings I would get up and start jogging around 5:30 (or before). It was truly beautiful at that time of the day, with the rays of the morning sun bouncing off the waters of Hakata Bay. But I saw very, very few people up and around at that early hour. I remember thinking then what a shame it was that Japan does not have DST.
So, in spite of some irritation at having to make an hour’s adjustment to the clocks every spring and fall, I think Daylight Saving Time is a good thing. And I was happy to set my watch and clocks forward an hour this morning.