Sonic Japan: Sounds of Tokyo

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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)
The Sound of Night in Tokyo
What is the difference between the sound of a busy city street during the day versus at night? (2016/06/30)
More:silence
BGM for the Beatles in Japan 50th anniversary exhibition
The Beatles visited Japan in 1966, playing five shows over three days at the Nippon Budokan. They were the first non Japanese to perform there, and the first musicians to play in the semi sacred space originally built for martial arts. After initial protests, the sold out concerts were a success and the venue became a centre for the performance of popular music. This is a recording of the 'BGM' (background music) at an exhibit of photographs taken by the Beatles official photographerRobert Whittaker was held to commemorate their groundbreaking visit to Japan. (2016/07/01)
More:music

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...>>

The Relationship between Sound and Space

Fri Jun 17 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

In this project, we are considering how sound and silence in various places are attended to in specific ways, and the dialogical relationship between sound and space. The mutually constitutive relationship between sound and space means that sounds are made diverse by the distinct characteristics of each place. At the...>>

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...>>

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...>>

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...>>

本部で道主との朝の稽古 Hombu Dojo, Morning class with the Doshu

Fri May 30 2014 by Tamara Kohn
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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.>>

本部道場での合気道稽古 Aikido training at Hombu Dojo

Tue Apr 15 2014 by Tamara Kohn
In this recording at Hombu dojo, the world headquarters of the Aikikai Foundation, during a late afternoon class, approximately 30 students are practicing in pairs and you hear the sound of their bodies moving and the slapping of the mats to break their falls. Then they stop, dash to the edges to kneel in seiza facing the centre, and the Sensei (teacher) demonstrates a technique with one uke (receiving partner) while all the students observe.>>

原宿駅での工事:Construction works at Harajuku Station

Wed Apr 02 2014 by Thomas Baudinette
Late one night, after I had spent an enjoyable evening with a friend in Omotesando and Harajuku, I found myself stuck on the platform at Harajuku Station. The station was currently being renovated, and there was very little standing room on the platform- and the platform was busy.>>

新幹線1 Shinkansen bullet trains part 1

Wed Apr 02 2014 by Carolyn Stevens
The super fast shinkansen bullet train network, which can take you from Tokyo to Osaka in a little over three hours, is a famous and ubiquitous image of modern Japanese technological ingenuity. The shinkansen bullet trains were first developed in the 1960s, with the first trunk line opening along the Tokaido (a major land-route connecting Osaka to Nagoya and then Tokyo) in 1964.>>

永田町のデモ Friday night demonstrations near Nagatacho Station

Tue Apr 01 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.>>

音は商売:新宿のタワーレコードズ Selling Sound: Shinjuku's Tower Records

Wed Mar 26 2014 by Carolyn Stevens
The music industry in Japan, as elsewhere, is seen to be a troubled industry. Since the late 1990s, sales figures of CDs in Japan have been in steady decline, in part due to the rise of online music as the primary source for consumers.>>

音は商売:東京の楽器街 Selling Sound: Music Stores in Tokyo

Wed Mar 26 2014 by Carolyn Stevens
Ochanomizu is an area in central Tokyo that is located near several major universities:  Meiji University, Tokyo Medical and Dental University and Juntendo University (Ochanomizu University moved to another part of the city after the 1923 Kanto Earthquake. Tokyo University's Hongo Campus is a short distance away).>>

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.>>

浅草の浅草寺 Sensoji Temple in Asakusa

Tue Mar 25 2014 by Thomas Baudientte
Sensoji Temple in Asakusa is Tokyo's oldest and most popular temple and is a popular tourist attraction, drawing in millions of tourists annually. Sensoji is also a popular place for Japanese to pay their respects to the gods during New Year.>>

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.>>

クリスピー・クリーム・ドーナツ Krispy Kreme Donuts

Fri Aug 16 2013 by Richard Chenhall
The first Krispy Kreme store in Japan was opened at the Shinjuku Station Southern Terrace in 2006, with many more to follow. The first store to be opened outside of Kanto was in Nagoya (2010), followed by a store in Osaka.>>

山手線 The Yamanote Line

Wed Aug 14 2013 by Carolyn Stevens
While many train lines track across the greater Tokyo landscape, no train is more iconic than the silver and light green Yamanote-sen (line).  Owned by Japan Railways (JR) and managed by JR Higashi Nihon, the Yamanote is one of the major inner city 'loops' that circles central Tokyo.>>

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.>>