December 05, 2019

A green light (for pedestrians)

I mentioned hassha tunes last week. These are the melodies played on train platforms in Japan that signal a train's departure. It's a nice way to hurry people along without ringing a loud bell or blaring a klaxon.

These tunes are particular to the train line and the station. A more universal melodic alarm is played at crosswalks to indicate when pedestrians have the right of way. Japanese are not ones to cross against the light.

Toryanse (通りゃんせ) is a traditional Japanese nursery rhyme (comparable to London Bridge is Falling Down). If you spend any amount of time in Japan, you will hear it. A lot. That pentatonic scale will soak into your brain.

Here is a vocal rendition of the traditional song.

If that's not melancholy enough, here is the actual MIDI melody that is played at crosswalks. Think of it as a kind of mental cattle prod to herd you out of harm's way before the light changes. Very Pavlovian, me thinks.

This crosswalk in Mitaka in Tokyo alternates Toryanse with the cheerier Comin' Thro' the Rye (which in Japan is well known as "The Sky over My Home Town").

Labels: , , , ,