Sonic Japan: Studies in Sensory Anthropology

Sound blog and sound maps featuring recordings from Japan

Latest sounds

The Sound of Relaxation
A soak in in Japanese hot springs is only truly complete after a few minutes in a coin operated massage chair. This is the sound of feeling totally relaxed after a hot bath! You can hear some of the clients chatting in this relaxation room, and the sound of a large television broadcasting a day time talk show. Lazing the day away in such a room is a great way to experience tactile and sonic Japan! (2016/06/21)
Ringo Starr, the most popular Beatle in Japan!
Here is another BGM (background music) recording from an exhibit of photographs taken by the Beatles official photographer Robert Whittaker held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their groundbreaking visit to Japan. I interviewed a woman who attended one of the concerts at the Budokan in 1966, and she said that at the time, Ringo was the most popular Beatle in Japan. During the concert, fans screamed throughout the performance except for two songs: Yesterday, because it was a quiet ballad, and for Ringo! Certainly this visual exhibit of the tour would not be complete without a sonic element. (2016/07/01)
Morning chants at a Kyoto Temple
This is a longish recording of the morning rituals conducted by Buddhist monks in a temple in Kyoto called Chishakuin. Often temples in Kyoto are very crowded with tourists, making it a sonically intense environment. This recording, however, was taken early in the morning. One can hear the sounds of nature, the recorder's footsteps and the chanting of the monks emanating outside the main hall into the temple garden. (2016/06/24)

Latest posts

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...>>

The Beatles in Japan, Fifty Years On

Fri Aug 05 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

As part of another research project on popular music in Japan, I have been looking at the Beatles fandom in Japan. I happened to be attending a conference in Kyoto in late June, so I decided to extend my visit for a few days and take the Shinkansen 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...>>