Sonic Japan: Studies in Sensory Anthropology

Sound blog and sound maps featuring recordings from Japan

Latest sounds

Exercises at Kindergarten
Standing at an intersection, a group of men are standing around a public display of an old train wheel. They are train enthusiasts taking pictures, snacking and talking about trains. A little over 20 metres away is a Kindergarten and a teacher is leading a group of about 30 young children in calisthenics. The rhythm of the teacher counting the rhythm makes for an interesting juxtaposition to the mens' discussions. Calisthenics were brought to Japan from the US in 1928 and broadcast via the radio. (2015/09/29)
This is a recording of walking down Ameyoko-cho between Okachimachi and Ueno stations. It is crowded and the shops and street store sellers line the streets shouting out their wares. There are stalls selling candy, clothes, dried foods, fish and numerous other goods. Ameya Yokocho refers to candy strode alley as candies were traditionally sold here but also Ame refers to America as after World War 2 this was the site of a black market. The sounds in this street are close. One on side looking above your head is the above ground railway and this has the effect of bringing the sounds closer together making for a more intense sensory experience. (2015/09/26)
Shopping strip at Ginkaku-ji
The long shopping strip along the entrance to Ginkaku-ji is full of people, shop owners selling Japanese gifts, including the small bells you can hear here. The sound is full of small conversations, which moves through space across the many shops. There are many school children in large groups with tourists interspersed through the chattering of the kids. (2015/04/09)

Latest Posts

New Publication: Sonic Practice as Commercial Enterprise in Urban Japan

Tue May 03 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

The first article from this project has just been published - see link to article.

This article is part of of special issue of Journal for Musicological Research on Street Music around the world.

Street music in Japan is often associated with the performance of one’s shōbai, translated as one’s...>>

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....>>