Last night, a few hours after Earth Hour, most countries in Europe and America's moved to Daylight Saving Time (DST), an easy way to save electricity in the summer. China, India and Japan are the only major industrialised countries that don't join.
We lived in Japan for 2,5 years and one of the most remarkable things I remember from that wonderful country, is the very early-early breaking of dawn in the summer. During those months the "day" would start around the same time most people leave the Karaoke-bars, around 3.30am. And even with blinds plus shutters plus curtains closed, around 4am the sun would be strong enough to wake us up. And explaining to our 6 months and 2,5 year old twins that is was still night time was pretty difficult.
We were even more surprised to find out why there is no DST in Japan. Apparently the Americans did introduce DST in Japan after WWII, but it was dispensed in 1952. The farmers were complaining the cows and chicken were getting upset with the new time schedule. And soon after the farmers started to complain, the Ministry of Education expressed their concerns that the lighter evenings would distract school children from doing their homework.
Asking one of our Japanese friends about this, she told me that there is also an unofficial reason; Japanese business people usually go for an after-work drink in the pub as soon as it gets dark. DST would mean an hour longer in the office....