A Night in Asahikawa

  • A Night in Asahikawa 00:00

It was a cold night in the city of Asahikawa, Hokkaido. The clock showed eight past thirty when I started recording in Kaimono Koen Shopping Street located a few hundred metres from the Asahikawa Station. Asahikawa is the second largest city in Hokkaido, second to Sapporo.

That night, 18th of April 2019, there were many political campaign vehicles going around Asahikawa. It seemed that there was going to be an election of some kind. I did not know for sure, but while I was staying in Hokkaido, I often stumbled upon these types of vehicles. The first one was in Otaru, a port city on the west coast of Sapporo. I also stumbled upon some of them in Sapporo.

The sounds produced by these vehicles were very unique. One or two speakers were placed on top of the vehicle. While the vehicles went around the city, the candidate would continuously present their programs. Once a while, the candidate would step down from their vehicles and give an oration on the street.

This night, a campaign vehicle coincidently stopped right across from where I was recording. It was only around 20 to 30 metres from where I was. On top of the car were six speakers placed facing every direction. A candidate can be seen getting off the vehicle. He then gave a speech about his campaign in the Kaimono Koen area where people were passing by, and his assistants were beside him wearing a matching pink uniform. The polite gestures given by the assistant were very common in a Japanese campaign. In audio point of view, the voices of the candidates were also similar. At least that is what I think after recording a few campaigns like this in Japan.

Honestly, this way of campaign added to the noise in public areas, which in this case is the street. Horn speakers used were able reach far distances in a mid to high frequency that stings the ear. Sometimes, I feel that this type of noise in the streets of Japan is a paradox to what the Japanese people are known for, prioritizing politeness and empathy towards other people. It might be a common occurrence in Japan to have loud speakers for campaign purposes.

After stopping for a few moments, the candidate and his assistants went back in to the vehicle and continued their campaign.  That is the routine of candidates upon the election. After that, the atmosphere of Kaimono Koen returned to its peaceful state. Sounds of footsteps and people talking can be heard. This recording is closed by the sound of a street musician playing a hang drum in one of the corners. The music that is played breaks the coldness of the night.

After recording, I packed up my set and went back to my lodge in the cold night of Asahikawa.

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Sounds: Japan