Sonic Japan: Sounds of music

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Local Coffee in Kyoto
Located near a touristy spot near Maruyama park, and Chionin and Shorenin temples, this 'showa' style cafe welcomes locals as well as visitors. Friendly conversation, background music and the sound of cups and dishes clinking make for a warming atmosphere. (2016/10/21)
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Street performers in Kyoto
Not all buskers are playing contemporary music. In keeping with the feeling of the 'old city' in Kyoto,; this duo combines acoustic guitar and shamisen for evening passers by. (2016/06/26)
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Music Lesson
Sometimes cafes feature communal spaces such as this shop in the suburbs of Kyoto. You can hear inside a teacher is giving a Japanese flute (fue) lesson to patrons. (2016/10/26)
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Latest posts

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...>>

Shakuhachi - Distant Cry of the Deer

Fri May 06 2016 by Richard Chenhall

The shakuhachi is an end blown flute that has a long history in Japan. Most famously, it was connected to a group of mendicant Buddhist monks in the Edo era, called Komuso, or the “Priests of Nothingness”, who played the shakuhachi for alms in search for enlightenment. While much of...>>

ロ吹き Ro-buki Practice

Wed May 07 2014 by Richard Chenhall
At the beginning of the shakuhachi lesson, the student and teacher play RO together. RO  is the first note on the shakuhachi, played with all finger holes closed.>>

手向 "Tamuke" as student and teacher practice

Wed May 07 2014 by Richard Chenhall
In this recording I am playing a piece called Tamuke (hands folded together in prayer) with my teacher. In a shakuhachi lesson, a student plays the piece they are currently learning to their teacher and then they play this piece together.>>

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).>>

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.>>