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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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School Bell
I paused halfway through Whisper of the Heart because I was getting tired and have to be up fairly early tomorrow for an awayday (albeit one in Bristol). I'm enjoying the film so far, even if I keep rewinding bits of dialogue for Japanese-learning purposes. Of course I catch only the odd word or phrase, but it's still rather exciting - like dabbing one of those children's magic painting books with a damp brush and seeing the colours emerge. I do feel a little guilty about clomping hobnailed through the delicate moss garden of Ghibli's own magic, but I will be watching again and will make it up.

I'm really posting just to note the strange fact that all Japanese schools - or at least all the ones I've seen in cartoons, and that's getting to be a fair few now - use the same sound for signalling the start of a lesson, and (what is stranger) that that sound is the Westminster chimes. It gives me a frisson of cultural dissonance every time I hear them.

I've wondered how those comes across in Britain. And yeah, they are the national standard, in every school. I do not know the history behind this.


I think I kind of think of the Westminster chimes as the default sound made by school bells? I'm pretty sure that it was what was used at my college, although I suspect it may not have been what was used at my high school. So what sound is the default for school bells in England, then, if not that?

Oh, also, thanks to my mother using the soundtrack to Peter Pan for choreography when I was a kid and thus playing it repetitively, when I went to college and heard the bells there my first association was actually with "Tender Shepherd."

At my primary school we had an actual bell - I got to ring it sometimes, like a town crier. At secondary school it was a single-note electric bell, very much like this. Once could hardly fail to prefer the Japanese version - but it must be strange for them, too, when they come to London to take photographs of Big Ben and find themselves with a Pavlovian urge to get their maths textbook out.

We had a real brass hand bell at junior school too. The older children got turns at walking up and down the corridors of the old Victorian building clanging it loudly. Similarly the bell at secondary school was the same as yours, an electric bell just like the one you linked to. There was a hand bell as well, but its only purpose as far as I recall was to ring for silence during school dinner if the teacher on duty wanted to make an announcement.

Edited at 2013-06-14 07:51 am (UTC)

I suspect it may be to do with a fact that many people would rather historians forgot. Before WW2, Japan and the UK were close allies and the Japanese had an admiration for all things British- 'Occidentalism' is nothing new.

It's the same sort of thing that leads to our local memorial to William Adams (aka Anjin Sama, founder of the Imperial Japanese Navy) being very much in the style of a Shinto shrine.

Edited at 2013-06-14 10:22 am (UTC)