This chapter describes in detail chindon-ya’s spatial maneuverings, sonic strategies, and social negotiations. Especially for pp. 102-122, I highly recommend you take the time to explore the interactive maps to experience what a chindon-ya street routine might look, sound, and feel like.
1) p.103 Machimawari: Negotiating Urban Space
The office and workshop space of Chindon Tsūshihnsha, Osaka.
Chindon Tsūshinsha taking the train on their way to a gig. From left: Hirabayashi, Nao (p. 75, 122), and Kobayashi (pp.119-120).
p. 116-120 Examples of tune selection and performance strategies.
A quiet weekday afternoon, the chindon-ya troupe is publicizing a pachinko slot machine parlor. Young mothers on their bicycles with their kindergarten children on the back seat pass by. To appeal to the children, the clarinet player chooses a theme song of a beloved TV cartoon show, Anpanman. The accompaniment is quite sparse, careful not to hit the ōdō drum and gorosu drum too loudly, so as not to be an annoyance to the residents in the quiet residential surroundings.
Three sister chindon-ya drummers of Takada Sendensha on a hot summer day, hired to provide nigiyakashi (festivity) to the local festival parade in their local Menuma City, a suburban area about 2-hour train away from Tokyo. Since the occasion is to visually and aurally maximize the festivity, they do not hesitate to play loudly and densely; note the resounding deep sounds of the drums. For the occasion, they hired three gakushi(instrumentalists) to add volume. To appeal to the aging population of the neighborhood, they chose the 1968 hit song “Sukini Natta Hito (The Man I Loved).”
A summery weekday in a popular shopping arcade with moderate foot traffic. The troupe does not need to be as modest in volume because the majority of the surrounding businesses, whom they would otherwise be sensitive not to be a nuisance to, are closed. Note the natural echo; the roofed arcade provides a particularly resonant environment, carrying the sound far. The chindon-ya members liberally perform, enjoying themselves.
This is the performance described on p.119-120, when Kobayashi prioritized his own enjoyment by playing a Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” to test the author as a joke. His point was to be able to “cook any tune” in a distinctly chindon style, and as important as the art of tune selection may be, “it actually doesn’t really matter all that much what you play; it’s more important to make good sound. As long as the sound blends well with the sound of the chindon drums and the kane.” (120)