京都の寺町通り Teramachi Street in Kyoto

Recorded by Richard Chenhall

The following recording was made on Teramachi Street in Kyoto. Teramachi Street contains one of the main shopping arcades (shotengai) in Kyoto, and after the arcade can be found a street filled with temples (o-tera) from which the street gets its name. It is a popular tourist spot in Kyoto, where tourists (both international and domestic travellers) can buy "authentic" and "traditional" souvenirs from the nation's former capital.

Teramachi Street in Kyoto

In the recording, you can hear what appears to be Japanese folk music- this is recorded music which is being disseminated throughout the shopping arcade in a manner similar to muzak. The sound of the shakuhachi is particularly noticeable earlier in the recording. You can also hear the sounds of shoppers as they move through the street, including at the end of the recording where you can hear a young child who sounds like s/he is either excited to be there or perhaps complaining about his/her tiredness. In the middle of the recording, the folk music is drowned out by more modern, popular music as Richard walks past a pachinko parlour. This melding of traditional folk music and modern pop presents an interesting hybridity which lends Teramachi Street a sense of both tradition and modernity (this hybridity is often used as a way to sell Japan as a tourist destination overseas).

Recording credit: Richard Chenhall Photo credit: Wikimedia user Sanjo, used under Creative Commons license. Text: Thomas Baudinette

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