Turns out evening is much earlier than you might think.

Have you ever wondered when evening starts and ends? It’s one of those things a lot of us think we know, despite never having been taught it, but according to a recent viral tweet in Japan we may have been wrong about it this whole time.

The tweet that caught everyone’s attention was from a university lecturer in Japan who specialises in meteorology. They said that when their child asked them what time it was, they replied by saying it would be evening in five minutes, which elicited a puzzled look from a passerby.

The reason for the puzzled look is understandable, because the time the conversation took place was 2:55 p.m.

▼ That means evening starts at 3:00 p.m.

This news rocked the nation, with people taking to the Internet to leave comments like:

“Whaa? But that still feels like daytime!”
“I thought evening started at 4:00 p.m. — 3:00 p.m. feels too early.”
“I feel like everyone in the office slacks off after 3 so maybe that’s why?”
“I thought it was 5:00 p.m., seeing as that’s when ‘Yuuyake Koyake’ (‘Sunset Afterglow’) is broadcast on the local speakers.”
“So is it okay to call a 3:00 p.m. snack an ‘evening snack’?”

While many seemed to classify evening as later in the day, evening really does officially start at 3:00 p.m., according to the “Daily Time Subdivision Map” defined by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

The subdivisions above are each three hours long, and set out as follows:

12:00 a.m. – 3:00 a.m. — Pre-Dawn
3:00 a.m.-6:00 a.m. — Dawn
6:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. — Morning
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. — Before Noon
12:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. — After Noon
3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. — Evening
6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. — Early Night
9:00 p.m.-12:00 p.m. — Late Night

While the time of evening came as a surprise to a lot of people in Japan, the eight subdivisions remain constant throughout the year, which means some evenings may feel brighter than others, depending on the season. The light also differs from place to place, too, with darkness arriving earlier in mountainous areas and northern regions like Hokkaido, giving those residents a different sense of time that might seem closer to the official subdivisions.

So while the subdivisions might make more sense depending on the time of year and location, it’s good to know of its existence as it gives us a bar by which to gauge our everyday. Because as we’ve seen in the past, the light can look vastly different around Japan, and sunset comes a lot earlier in Tokyo.

Source: Japan Meteorological Agency via Hachima Kikou
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso, Japan Meteorological Agency
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