Sonic Japan: Sounds of public space

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Latest sounds

Pokmeon Go at Yodabashi Camera
Crowds of people playing Pokemon Go at Yodabashi Camera, Shinjuku (2018/09/22)
Toy Store - Yamashiroya - in Ueno
Night time toy shopping in Ueno - Yamashiroya - a multistory shop (2018/03/29)
Ueno Park nighttime - Sakura season
Ueno park at the height of the sakura blooming season - crowded with parties, families and tourists... (2018/03/24)

Latest posts

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...>>

Week Day Park

Wed Feb 07 2018 by Carolyn Stevens

Public space is notable for its sounds as well as its silences, and this shifts over temporal and seasonal changes. We would expect that this small park in the heart of Kyoto would sound differently at night than during the day, but the differences between week days and week ends...>>

Arashiyama Wedding

Mon Jul 24 2017 by Tamara Kohn

What a sight in the midst of the splendid bamboo forest walk at Arashiyama: A young couple posing for wedding photos in a stream of light on the wide path. The bride’s long white dress glowed with a brilliant light that appeared to emanate from the bodies of the...>>

Green Tea Cakes and Yobikomi

Fri Jul 21 2017 by Carolyn Stevens

In my recent article ‘Irasshai! Sonic Practice as Commercial Enterprise in Urban Japan’ (Journal of Musicological Research, link here, I observe that recorded versions of yobikomi (calling in customers) are increasing, likely due to cost cutting measure – it’s cheaper to record the company jingle and play it on...>>

Osaka Inside Out

Fri Dec 23 2016 by David Novak

This mix draws from a field recording project undertaken in July 2007 with several collaborators from around the city of Osaka, in the Kansai region of western Honshu, Japan. I asked my friends and colleagues to bring me to places that sounded most like Osaka and the experience of living...>>

Night time sounds in Tokyo

Fri Sep 02 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

Many of the recordings in this repository were taken during the more 'sociable' hours of 9 am to about 10 pm, as the ethnographers moved through a 'normal' schedule in Japan. On my recent trip, however, I explicitly tried to take recordings outside of business hours to provide contrast to...>>

Embodied Senses in Reflection

Fri Jul 29 2016 by Tamara Kohn

I’ve recently returned to Melbourne from the 2016 Association of Social Anthropologists conference at the University of Durham, UK. It was a nostalgic visit for me. I had lived in Durham and had taught at that University for 14 years, from 1992-2006. This first visit back to the...>>

Sonic Cosmopolitanism and Hotel Lobbies

Fri Jul 15 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

Feeling, belonging and listening to sound:

Recordings by C. Stevens, text by C Stevens and R. Chenhall

Five star hotels are interesting places. For the elite 1% of the population, this kind of place may seem mundane, but for the rest of us, luxury hotels present us with a rarified encounter with...>>

Nightlife in Shibuya

Thu Jun 09 2016 by Richard Chenhall

“The nightlife is defined by Japanese more what by what it does than by where is exists”, says Anne Allison in her book about Tokyo clubs and bars (Nightwork 1994, p. 33). Accordingly, Sonic Japan features sounds made in various places in the public and private spheres. Sounds heard in...>>

Imagining Sonic Flaneurs from the Past

Mon May 16 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

Recently, our book Sound, Space and Sociality in Modern Japan was reprinted in paperback. In the introduction (co-authored with Sonic Japan team member Joe Hankins), we wrote about how sensory experiences had been described in the past:

"the notion of the public gaze has been much discussed in social theory...Social...>>

Sweeping Silence

Fri Apr 01 2016 by Tamara Kohn

Four of us awoke at 5:30am, before dawn, and silently carried brooms from the dojo grounds down the drive and over the road to the Aiki Shrine. Sweeping the large 'dry' gravel garden in front of the shrine or the leaves under the trees is part of any live-in student's...>>

Sound as Control

Fri Apr 01 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

This recording of an announcement in Yoyogi Park is played every few minutes through a loudspeaker (featured photo). A feminine voice tells park users not to ride bicycles along the pathways as it is dangerous to pedestrians. This is an example of sonic control, an one expression of social control....>>

What is a sonic contour?

Fri Apr 01 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

What are sonic contours?

Contours have been described in various ways within different disciplines, but they are most often associated with visual stimuli. Kent Stevens describes a surface contour as the ‘image of a curve across a physical surface’ that can be formed by a shadow, a marking or a wrinkled...>>

清水寺 Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto

Mon Jun 02 2014 by Thomas Baudinette
Kiyomizu Temple, officially known as Otowa-san Kiyomizu Temple, is a Buddhist temple and popular tourist spot in Eastern Kyoto. A practicing Buddhist temple, Kiyomizu Temple forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Historic Monuments of Ancient Kyoto (Kyoto, Uji and Otsu Cities)".>>

上野公園での野球試合 An amateur baseball match at Ueno Park

Wed May 07 2014 by Thomas Baudinette
Baseball is the most popular spectator sport in Japan and is also one of the most popular amateur sports- almost every school and university in Japan has it's baseball team(s). Even some large (and smaller) companies organise baseball competitions amongst their employees and against their competitors, with young (male) members of staff invited to represent the company on the diamond.>>

永田町のデモ Friday night demonstrations near Nagatacho Station

Wed Apr 02 2014 by Carolyn Stevens
The following sounds were recorded during an evening protest in front of the Government offices in Kasumigaseki and  Nagatacho in central Tokyo. I began my sensory experience at the Anti Nuke Occupy Tent, which was located near exit A12 of the Kasumigaseki Station.>>

国会議事堂前での右翼団体 Right-wing sound trucks in front of the Japanese Diet Building

Wed Mar 26 2014 by Tamara Kohn

谷中祭り Yanaka matsuri (festival) Part Two

Wed Mar 12 2014 by Carolyn Stevens
Bazaar at the elementary school.>>

谷中祭り Yanaka matsuri (festival) Part One

Wed Mar 12 2014 by Carolyn Stevens
HATSUON NO MORI Towards the end of our fieldwork in Tokyo, Carolyn Stevens and myself (Thomas Baudinette) visited a local neighbourhood festival in Yanaka. Although we visited in the morning, it was already extremely hot and dusty, and we spent just as much time enjoying the sights and sounds as we did trying to find cool, shady areas to rest.>>

京都の伊勢丹デパート Isetan Department Store, Kyoto

Fri Aug 16 2013 by Richard Chenhall
Isetan is one of Japan's ubiquitous department stores. With its flagship store in Shinjuku, Isetan has branches throughout Japan and also Asia (including China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand) and former branches in London and Vienna.>>

新宿3丁目駅の地下道 Underground paths at Shinjuku 3-chome Station

Wed Aug 14 2013 by Thomas Baudinette
Shinjuku Station is connected to Shinjuku 3-chome Subway Station and Tochomae Subway Station via a number of subterranean paths (chikadō). These paths crisscross the Shinjuku Ward area, connecting the stations to not only each other, but also various department stores and office building complexes which extend beneath the ground to connect this subterranean world of pathways.>>