Sounds that disappear, or stay

When I was a student in in Kyoto in the early 1970s there were lots of sounds that, for me, represented Japan. One such sound was that of the ticket controllers at railway stations. They produced a special clicking sound with their tongs in between punching the tickets. As soon as you entered a station you could here the sound. Now there are machines making a different kind of sound, much quieter.

Another sound was that of the Japanese wooden clogs, the geta, worn by most students, even during winter. They produced a special kind of clattering and scraping sound. Both those sounds are now gone.

I have often wondered what kind of sounds represent Sweden for a Japanese person who has lived in Sweden, or only visited the country, sounds that have disappeared or are still there. The expression ‘Swedish sounds’ usually means Swedish music, but there are so many more sounds than that. If you have any suggestions or ideas please let me know. The same goes for Swedes who have lived in or been to Japan. What are typical Japanese sounds to you? Perhaps we can create a bilateral sound catalogue together. After all, the most famous Japanese poem is that of Matsuo Basho, describing the sound of a frog jumping into an old pond.

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  1. 01


    Indeed, Japan is full of sounds, from the Yakimoooo cars, the Yuyake Koyake after sunset orange sky, “end of school day” from speakers around 5PM, to the wooden pin “click clock” of the volontary fire brigade… What are Swedish sounds, maybe the non-sound allowing the birds singing to be heard, or perhaps the “Hemglassbilen” blue ice-cream car truck coming to your neighbourhood?

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