Today I noticed a really loud musical street crossing that made me to start thinking about how damn odd they are.
Listen to my podcast remix of the ubiquitous sound of Japan— musical pedestrian crossings. (streaming or MP3 format, 2.3MB, 1 minute 34 seconds) To skip all the ambient noises of Japan in the remix, listen to this upbeat MP3version. Or, check out the following Youtube:
(Update via reddit.com/r/japan)
Most larger crossings in Japan play this electronic tune, called Toryanse (通りゃんせ ) when it’s safe to cross. Ahh, Japan…where the traffic lights sing.
The children’s song Toryanse literally means “Please Let Me Pass” in Japanese. However, it’s really just plain kimoi—creepy in its melancholic minor key….especially so when you think about the words that reference times of high childhood mortality in Japan:
Going is easy / Coming back is fearful / Although I feel fearful, please let me pass / Please let me pass
For the full lyrics and more info, go to: “Toryanse” in Wikipedia.
For good laugh, watch the video of Japanese language study dorks in the States doing the kindergarten song and dance of Toryanse.
(In the Quicktime .mov format, 40 seconds approx.)