Sonic Japan: Sounds of streetscapes

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Shakuhachi in the distance
I was trying to find my shakuhachi teacher's house but I took a wrong turn and found myself lost in the back streets of Chichibu. I stopped and opened my ears. Drifting over the roof tops, I could hear the sound of the shakuhachi. My teacher was having a lesson with a student. I navigated through the streets following the sounds of the lesson. (2018/09/19)
More:Chichibu
Tōryanse Street Crossing
At a crossing just outside Matsumoto station in Nagano-ken, a tune is played indicating that it is safe to cross the street. The tune is based on an old folk tune that describes passing through a checkpoint to Tenjin Shrine, where on a child's seventh birthday parents pray for their child's future health and longevity. (2019-04-20)
More:Matsumoto
Sumida River, Kuramae
Sounds of construction, traffic and sirens flow across the river in Kuramae (2018/03/24)
More:Tokyo

Latest posts

Nishijin, Kyoto

Fri Dec 07 2018 by Carolyn Stevens

One of the pleasures of academia is working with doctoral students whose projects extend their supervisors' knowledge about their area of expertise. Dr. Jenny Hall introduced me to the sensory experiences of traditional textile making and design as per her dissertation thesis, Tradition and Innovation in Textile Production and Design...>>

Chinatown in Kobe

Wed Feb 07 2018 by Carolyn Stevens

Many scholars conducting doing important research regarding the diversification of Japanese society which has intensified in recent years for a variety of economic, social and cultural reasons. While these contemporary developments are important, we must also remember that ethnic diversity in Japan does have a significant history, and Chinatowns like...>>

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...>>

Osaka Inside Out

Thu Dec 22 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...>>

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...>>

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...>>

Sonic Practice as Commercial Enterprise in Urban Japan

Tue May 03 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

The Journal of Musicological Research has just published an article arising from the Sonic Japan project, part of a special issue on street music around the world.

Street music in Japan is often associated with the performance of one’s shōbai, translated as one’s trade, business, or occupation. An examination of...>>

音は商売:新大久保のKPOP屋 Selling Sound: A K-Pop store in Shin-Okubo

Wed Apr 02 2014 by Thomas Baudinette
The area around Shin-Okubo station in Shinjuku Ward has long been an area associated with resident Koreans in Japan (zainichi kankokujin). Many resident Koreans moved to the district after the Allied Occupation of Japan due to cheap rental prices.>>

大阪の新世界 Shin Sekai (New World) in Osaka

Wed Mar 26 2014 by Thomas Baudinette
Shin Sekai (literally New World in English) is a neighbourhood in Osaka. Originally developed during the 1910s as a modern, fashionable "Western" district, after WW2 the district fell into disrepute and became one of Japan's poorest neighbourhoods.>>

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
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浅草橋での焼き芋 Yakiimo in Asakusabashi

Wed Mar 26 2014 by Thomas Baudinette
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.>>

京都の寺町通り Teramachi Street in Kyoto

Wed Mar 26 2014 by Thomas Baudinette
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.>>

下駄の音 Geta no Oto (The Sound of Geta)

Mon Aug 12 2013 by Tamara Kohn and Richard Chenhall
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.>>

火の用心 Hi no Yōjin (Beware of Fire)

Mon Aug 12 2013 by Carolyn Stevens
This brief recording documents one winter public service practice of many Japanese urban communities: Hi no Yōjin, or 'Beware of Fire'.  During the winter, members of a chōnaikai, the local neighbourhood association, walk through the streets carrying small wooden sticks which they smack together periodically to draw the attention of the local residents.>>