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...>>
Ginza has long been home to Japan's largest department stores and "brand" fashion boutiques. Strolling along the wide boulevards (the first western style boulevards in Tokyo), a practice known as gin-bura, has long been a custom amongst young couples. "Ginza" is understood as a trendy and fashionable space and the term Ginza has become affixed to regional shotengai (such as, for example, Yanaka Ginza) as an attempt to build prestige and display a sense of cosmopolitanism.
The following recording was taken opposite Ginza's Mitsukoshi Department Store and in front of a Doutor Coffee franchise in the late morning. This is the heart of Ginza. We were standing in front of a large television screen which was playing a continuous loop of advertising- screens such as these are ubiquitous throughout Tokyo and although they are popularly linked to Shibuya, they can be found in many urban hubs (including Ueno, Okachimachi, Akihabara, Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shimbashi and Yurakucho to name a few). Indeed, these screens form an important part of the soundscapes of many Japanese cities.
In the recording, you can hear advertising jingles and the sounds of the few cars which were driving through the space (due to the early hour there were not many cars). We arrived before the crowds, and as such, the buzz of people is absent from this recording. At the twenty second mark, you can hear the researchers talking, unaware of the fact that Carolyn was making a recording. This provides us the opportunity to reflect upon an interesting idea- as researchers working in the space we also add to the soundscape through our sonic practices. In this recording, you can hear Tom and Tamara as they discuss the telescreen and how best to record it (their voices are muffled and the words are indistinct, much like the voices of the crowds in other recordings in the repository).
Recording and photo Carolyn Stevens Text Thomas Baudinette