"The Sound of Tokyo Street Cafes"

Shannon Werle
Graduate Student, Dartmouth College, digital musics program

From Shannon's website:

"The street cafe, defined as open air seating with easy access from a street, allows people to gather, socialize and dine while observing the streetscape. In Tokyo, utilization of the cafe’s exterior for additional seating is a relatively new phenomenon following a history of closed cafes. Embedded in high density areas, the street cafes often occupy interstitial spaces—chairs fill in gaps between buildings, alcoves tuck into volumes adjacent to multiline, bustling commercial centers and seating clusters negotiate space with air conditioner units and sidewalk slithers. The composition of the physical elements of each street cafe reflects an negotiation with the surroundings. A lack of conscious consideration for the acoustic quality of and vista from these street cafes consequently expands the possibilities of urban sonorous conditions to experience."

Attached is an MP3, Ventilation Units Cafe, which is an excerpt from a field recording of a street cafe located in central Shibuya, Tokyo that's set back in a narrow gap between two buildings and surrounded by ventilation units. These produce a heavy drone that masks the sounds of traffic and pedestrians beyond the gap.