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...>>
During the cooler months, itinerant salesmen roam the streets selling baked potatoes: yakiimo. Similarly to the cries of hi no yojin, the sounds of men wandering the streets chanting "imo... yakiimo...." are a pleasant indication that winter is on its way.
The present recording occurred in the back alleyways underneath Asakusa-bashi (Asakusa Bridge). The story as to how I made the recording is an interesting one which has implications for the research of sonic practices. The yakiimo salesman is a relatively ephemeral sound, one can never truly predict when it will occur- you cannot easily stake it out for a recording. Each night during my stay in Tokyo, I would take an evening walk through the shitamachi (low city). One evening I had just completed a leisurely stroll along the Sumida River and was wandering through the Asakusa-bashi district on my way home. Suddenly, in the distance, I heard the cries "imo... yakiimo." I heard, quite by chance, one of the sonic practices which was high on my "to record" list! I followed the sounds as it moved through the unfamiliar streets, running after the sounds in order to get a recording. I could only think "is this how someone desperate for yakiimo would perhaps behave, chasing down the truck?" Eventually, I found it, after having been listening to it for many minutes. It was a good feeling!
Interestingly, the cries of the salesman have been amplified using a loudspeaker. I didn't get a close enough look to determine if the cries were pre-recorded or whether the salesman was actually shouting. Either way, the amplification via modern technology is an interesting addition to this "traditional" practice of the shitamachi.
Recording Credit: Thomas Baudinette Photo Credit: 多摩に暇人 used under creative commons license from WikiCommons