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...>>
Bazaar at the elementary school
As part of the festivities, the local elementary school in Yanaka was running a bazaar. The bazaar was located within a small enclosed space opposite the neighbourhood temple and many young families were visiting in order to buy toys, snacks and, importantly on such a hot day, cold drinks. In the recording below, you can hear the parents as they spruik their wares and the sounds of the children running in and out of the space as they buy toys and play together. As Carolyn and myself ventured deeper into the bazaar, it certainly became noisier and we could hear the sounds of maracas- or perhaps they were tambourines?- and the laughter of the children. It was quite loud in there!
Preparations at the neighbourhood shrine The neighbourhood shrine is often the nerve centre of a neighbourhood festival, and the Yanaka matsuri is no different. When we first arrived, we made a beeline for the shrine, knowing that this would be the heart of the festival. However, since we had arrived quite early in the morning very little had been set up. The elderly volunteers were all busy setting up foodstores and hotplates where yakisoba (fried noodles, a favourite summer festival dish) would be sold. We decided to make a recording.
In the above recording, you can hear the sounds as they prepare for the matsuri at the neighbourhood shrine. In the background you can hear the same song on repeat, being played over loudspeakers and the sizzling of yakisoba noodles being prepared (it appears this is where the food will be sold to the hungry guests). The majority of volunteers are elderly and they call out to each other good-naturedly as they work. Some children are underfoot and you can hear them playing. At the end of the recording, what may sound like rain or hissing to some is actually the sound of the frying yakisoba noodles. The smell of the noodles sizzling was amazing, merging with the sights and sounds to bring about a festival atmosphere. Writing this brief reflection, I remember this smell as I hear the sizzling noodles and my stomach starts to grumble!
Photos and recordings by Carolyn Stevens