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Today, I read about the Westminister Quarters, the chime used by Big Ben in Westminster, London. In that article, I see this assertion:

Most schools in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea play the chimes to signal the end and beginning of periods.

My personal experience in Taiwan, in the Chinese communities of Southeast Asia, and seeing videos of Japanese schools suggest that the assertion is plausible. (Also, anime sometimes play the chimes during school scenes).

The Japanese Wikipedia article on chimes has additional information. The article asserts that in Japan, the chimes were adopted in 1954 by a person named 石本邦雄. The adoption was inspired by the chimes played on BBC radio broadcasts. There is no citation.

I find it interesting that the chimes has mass adoption in a select few East Asian countries, and I think it is unlikely to be mere coincidence. Questions:

  1. What was the reason for the mass adoption of the Westminster Quarters in Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea?

  2. When did these places start adopting the chimes?

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    That melody is insanely popular with chime manufacturers all over the world. You get clocks, door bells and whatnot playing those notes, and -- from personal experience -- I can say that the alternative chimes are usually much more jarring and less pleasant. So it might actually be a case of, "available, and why not?". (The same reason that made Big Ben end up with that chime, as it wasn't the first to use it.) – DevSolar Mar 13 at 8:20
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    @DevSolar What pushed me to ask this question was visiting some towns in Southeast Asia, and noticing that the Chinese school was often the only one with the Westminster Quarters as its school bell. When I visited Taiwan, I noticed how common the chimes were. I was wondering if there is a cultural or historical reason for the use of the chimes as school bell in one particular region of the world. I hope you understand the motivation of my question. I was hoping for some illuminating historical answer, but if there is none, I would be happy to accept "available, and why not?" as an answer. – Flux Mar 13 at 9:03

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