Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Song for Everything

In our house we can come up with a song for just about anything a person might say, do, or touch. We often use this ability to torture Rowan for our own amusement. In Japan, there really is a song for everything, and I mean everything.

A few years ago Jesse bought his dream rice cooker which, of course, is Japanese. We were totally surprised when it played a song when we hit cook, and a totally different song when the rice was done. We have entertained guests with it and even do a little dance when the music plays. Well now we know that, since it is a Japanese appliance, it must play a song. Our washing machine plays a short song when I press start, and a longer song when it is finished. When the bathtub (which is electronically controlled) is finished filling there is a song. When the garbage trucks go down the road collecting, they play a song along with a message that I assume means, "sorry to inconvenience you". When your train is pulling up to the platform there will be a song, and often a different song while it leaves. If the train is just passing through but not stopping, there is yet a another song. Each train station seems to have their own songs, so if you were really good you could know where you were by the tune. One that baffled us for a while was the song played on loudspeakers in our neighborhood at exactly 4:00pm every day. We were finally informed that it is a signal for the kids that they should head home because it will be dark soon. Now that it is light a bit later, the song has moved to 5:00pm and is an entirely different tune.

As with many things in Japan, it is an amusing yet efficient system. I like it when systems can be both amusing and efficient.

As an aside, Jesse finally remembered to add me to this blog (ya, our FAMILY blog which I could not contribute to), so I hope to do more posting. There may even be pictures next time.


  1. Oh please, please, please start recording these for us!! I'm dying to hear all the tunes! What KIND of songs?

  2. Great topic.

    The song some of the pedestrian crossings in Tokyo play still make me nostalgic. And though I can’t think of them specifically, if you played them for me I’d be able to recognize the station songs of all the train stations I used to commute through.

    Now I'm down west (south) and working in multiple towns. I've noticed that each town has its own song in the morning, noon, and evening. I think my favorite is the town that plays songs from the Sound of Music. My least favorite has an air raid siren. Each school has its own set of songs for cleaning and other important events. Even my daughter’s preschool class has a piano in the classroom so the teacher can play little songs to cue the kids to start the day or get ready to go home.

    It’s like Japan read the paper on Pavlov’s dogs and ran with the idea.