Sonic Japan: Sounds of music

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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)
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)
'Ear Menu' in Trendy Tokyo
This cafe offers not only drink menus, but a music menu to give the discerning customer more information about the background music (known in Japanese as 'BGM') played in the restaurant. Music is important in creating an aesthetic atmosphere in public places like this fashionable cafe in Tokyo. This renovated building combines old and new style features to create a strong visual sense of contemporary Japanese culture which integrates old and new, indigenous and foreign. Their dishes use high quality organic Japanese ingredients which are clearly marked on their menu. It has a reputation as being very 'classy' (oshare) amongst locals, who say that they would like to go more often but rarely do because it is expensive. It is mostly frequented by both Japanese and foreign tourists in the area, who stay in the related small ryokan next door. (2016/06/30)

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.>>