Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Summer in Japan: Sounds

Just as each season in Japan has its list of associated foods, images and traditions there are also sounds that can conjure up memories of spring, summer, autumn or winter.

Here are a few sounds that evoke the summer season:

1. Bamboo stirred by the breeze

Photo: Itsumo Japan

One sound associated with summer is the 'clack' and 'rustle' of bamboo as it is stirred by the breeze. As a cool breeze is hard to find at the height of summer in Japan this sound is associated specifically with early summer.

2. The sound of cicada

Photo: Japan Visitor

Though the sound of most insects are traditionally associated with autumn cicada or セミ definitely belong to summer. Wherever you go in Japan the hot summer air rings with the piercing sound of the cicada.  I have written about cicada before here.

3. Hanabi

Photo: Japan Guide

Watching fireworks or 花火-はなび  is a common summer pastime with most cities putting on elaborate displays at some point throughout the summer therefore the 'bang' and 'crackle' that they make as they explode in the sky is one of the sounds of summer in Japan.

4. Fūrin

Photo: gorry.huan.org

These glass or metal windchimes are hung outside homes and businesses throughout the summer in Japan. The paper that hangs below the bell is designed to catch a passing breeze, however small, making anyone nearby feel cooler when they hear the pleasant 'ting'.

Further Reading:
NHK World's Begin Japanology: Sounds of Japan
Itsumo Japan: Reminiscences of Summer in Japan: Furin

This article is part of my A Pillow Book of Japan project.


Love the sounds of summer in Japan. Favourites have to be the sound of a wind chime, which has an almost cooling effect and the sound of a gentle stream in the mountains of my home in Gifu.

Japan Australia

Ahh I love the sound of the wind chime too! I bet the sound of the stream near your home is very relaxing, I once stayed in Nikko at a hotel near the river and the sound was very comforting to hear at night.

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