9 Sounds Every Single Japanese Person Knows
You know that sound you hear all the time on Japanese TV? Yeah that sound. What is it? In Japan there are unique sounds that every Japanese person knows. It’s a part of Japanese life. Sit back, relax, and enjoy listening to… the sounds of Japan.
9. Bamboo clacking
You know that thing in Japanese gardens and traditional house where there is water, and bamboo, and a loud clacking sound. That thing has a name: 鹿威し(ししおどし). It’s meant to scare away birds and other animals.
8. School Bell
Every Japanese kid hears this sound daily, either to their delight or horror. While this didn’t originate in Japan (it’s the Westminster Quarters), it is a major part of Japanese life.
7. Laundry Pole Truck
Have you ever decided you need to do laundry suddenly, but don’t have a pole to hang your clothes up on? Luckily there is a truck that drives around selling you that pole, chanting loudly.
6. Baked Sweet Potato Truck
Once you have your laundry set up, it’s nice to be able to savor in a baked sweet potato. There’s a truck for that too.
5. Tofu Truck
In Japan there is a truck for everything… After your sweet potato, tofu hits the spot.
4. Pedestrian street light
Crossing at a crosswalk is exciting. Excitement needs a theme song. You’ve got one. This melody, which is a children’s folk song (かごめかごめ) that has a strange and dark history, has faded away mostly in recent years. It was replaced by the standard chirping sound. But if you are lucky, you can still find this classic to guide you across safely.
3. Sexy lady sound
Did you just see a sexy moment on TV? There is a good chance you heard it followed by the “Wowww~!” sound. What is this wow? Whose wow is this? While I’m not sure of the accuracy of this claim, one site says it comes from an old video game from 1990.
Now whenever you see a sexy scene, you will think of this game
2. Kabuki Yell
Traditional Kabuki theater. While most Japanese people don’t visit Kabuki that often these days, there is one shout that will remind them to increase their attendance frequency. The いよぉ～ shout!
1. Yakuza have arrived
Is there a sudden appearance of Yakuza? Or a sudden bad-ass starts being all bad-ass on screen? Then there is a 99% chance he enters with this theme from the famous legendary Yakuza movie 仁義なき戦い.
Now you know every sound of Japan there is to know
Or do you have some more? What are some other standard sounds of Japan you will absolutely hear if you give it a little time?
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.
This is so funny! Thanks for the experience.
I’m glad I could provide the “sounds of Japan” experience.
I knew some of these because anime.
Anime does make sure to use a lot of these.
I think you need this staple of Summertime, the cicada: https://youtu.be/eE-_kNWJXNw
Does the slurping sound people make when they eat (especially noodles) count?
Cicadas are definitely a staple sound in Japanese media, but not unique to Japan. I hear some wailing cicadas right now, in good ol’ flyover country, USA.
But the Japanese cicadas are speaking Japanese! It’s totally different. Like how Japanese dogs say “wan” or Japanese cats say “nyan”.
120 minutes of cicadas… wow.
As summer progresses their sound changes. You can tell how far into summer you are just by listening to them. I suppose looking at a calendar would work too, but sometimes it is hard to keep track of that..
You definitely need to put the ‘Hard Off’ discount/thrift store theme song in this group. Every Japanese woman/girl I know, knows this!
I can’t believe the people in that store work with the same song playing every day over and over again!
Also, the music right before the train doors slide closed.
EVERY one living in Tokyo is intimately familiar with this.