The Sounds of Summer in Japan
Tsuruga Wakasanojo, President, Shinnai Association
The Summer Olympic Games are now being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Watching the Japanese athletes, I’ve fluctuated between joy and disappointment, but I’ve cheered for them even in the midst of the summer heat of Tokyo. Because Brazil is in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s winter there now, so it may not be hot. However, public security has been said to be very poor there, so that both the athletes and their supporters went at the risk of their lives.
In the intense heat in Japan this summer, I’ve dreamed of a vacation at the seaside or in the mountains where I could find some cool air. In summer in Japan, there are special summer sounds. What sounds do each of us associate with summer? Summer’s special sounds that linger in my ears include the singing of cicadas, the ringing of wind chimes, the blasts of fireworks, the sound of taiko (Japanese drums) at OBon festival dances, the sound of evening rain, and the sound of the broadcasts of high school baseball games. In the past, we could hear the calls of itinerant salesmen of goldfish and wind chimes as they passed by in the street.
The sounds of summer are different in the cities and in the countryside. In rural areas, people become relaxed as they listen to the sound of the sea, the chirping of wild birds, the buzzing of insects, and the rustle of the wind blowing through the forests. The special smells found in country areas add to the memories of summer.
I’d like to escape from the heat and the hustle and bustle of the city and go to some place different from my daily life where I can heal my body and soul while listening to shinnai. The special quality of the sound of the shinnai shamisen is wonderful to hear regardless of the season.