下駄の音 Geta no Oto (The Sound of Geta)

Gion is the part of Kyoto famous for its association with the traditional arts, dress and music of Japan, as embodied by the geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha).  This recording was taken in July 2013, and captures the sound of maiko walking through the historic streets of Gion. They wear geta, or high platformed wooden sandals, to keep the hems of their expensive kimono off the street and away from the dust, rain or mud. In this recording we hear the geta on cobblestones, which give the sound a certain hollow quality. We can hear them come and then go in the distance, giving the sound a spatial quality.  The sound of the geta, renowned throughout Japan and the rest of the world as forming part of traditional Japanese attire, lend this recording a sense of tradition. It is the sound of "old" Japan and is a sound becoming increasingly infrequent in the large urban metropolises of this postmodern society.

Maiko at Kyoto Station.

Recording by Tamara Kohn & Richard Chenhall Photo by Richard Chenhall

Explore Sonic Japan

More in Kyoto

More on streetscapes

Recent posts

Premodern Sonic Security Systems: the Nightingale Floor

Wed Nov 13 2019 by Carolyn Stevens

This a recording of a temple located in Ohara, just outside Kyoto, named Sanzenin. An important site for the Tendai school of Buddhism, this large complex houses many artistic and religious treasures. One of the compound buildings featured a uguisubari (translated as ‘nightingale floor’). This kind of flooring was...>>

Kyoto Jazz Club

Wed Jul 10 2019 by Carolyn Stevens

Last May I travelled to Japan to participate in Professor Hosokawa's 'Otomimikai' (sound and listening research group) at Nichibunken, and as luck would have it, I was there at same time as Professor Merry I White from Boston University. Many know her work Coffee Life in Japan and Perfectly...>>

Pokemon Go

Fri Dec 07 2018 by Richard Chenhall

Public places in the crowded streets of Shinjuku in Tokyo are usually filled with movement, talking and the sounds emanating from shops. Whilst walking through West Shinjuku, I was minding my business walking to my destination. I stopped when I saw a sea of people standing outside Yodabashi camera. There...>>