21 December 2008

Only in Japan

So today I took a long bikeride up the Tama river, turned back at Noborito and followed the Odaku-sen back to Shimokitazawa. At Chitose-funabashi, I saw a form of entertainment that surely must be limited to Japan.

They were having an opening ceremony for the new "hiroba" (wide place), and there was a stage with a performer and a crowd of a couple hundred standing around (like a lot of suburban stations on weekends there were also an assortment of vendors selling various things from stalls). The performer's main gig was... he could imitate (very well) the announcements that you hear in trains and train stations when you travel in Japan.

"doa ga shimarimasu" -> The doors are closing
"densha ga mairimasu" -> The train is arriving
"kore wa nagano yuki joetsu shinkansen" -> This is the Joetsu Shinkansen bound for Nagano

Sometimes he just sort of riffed on these, other times he would simulate a complete journey (he took everyone on the Shinkansen to Osaka at one point). For the shinkansen especially, he threw in sound effects of the Shinkansen at various speeds. He could do both male and female voices, although he mostly did male; he could also copy the English announcements you get on the Shinkansen and other major lines.

The crowd applauded politely after each segment. Sorry to those of you dying to go see him yourselves, I didn't get his name ;-).

1 comment:

Gilles Poitras said...


Street entertainment is one of the great traditional arts of Japan.