Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New Sound in Tokyo

When I read the following in The Economist online yesterday, I was skeptical. Sure, I love and admire the Tokyo Metro, and I'm still regretful that I won't be able to complete the stamp rally, which closes at the end of this month. But it's hard to imagine all those solemn commuters welcoming interruption to the silent reverie that is their commute. What do I know, though? Maybe they're all just supremely bored, and they'll welcome the opportunity to literally jazz up their life? I suppose I won't really know what to think until a lot of "ifs" go through; "if" the musicians really are licensed..."if" they actually take up posts in the Metro..."if" I ever go to Tokyo again to hear it for myself...*

Tokyo or busk
The silent underground walkways of the Tokyo Metro could soon reverberate with the sounds of the capital’s first licensed street musicians. In a surprise break with the Tokyo Metro’s conservative approach to busking, delegates travelled to London in early March to liaise with their counterparts from London Underground and explore the possibility of legalisation. The Japanese authorities say they are eager to recreate the success of the three-year-old British scheme, in which 300 musicians have been granted licences to play at 42 designated “pitches” throughout stations on the London network.

But there are real differences between the two cities. British buskers have been around for decades and were locked in a game of cat-and-mouse with the London Underground authorities until their position was formalised. Tokyo has never had buskers, and the Metro will first have to hold auditions for a new crop of subterranean stars.

*it's not that I actually think I'm never going to Tokyo again. But as of this moment I have no plans, which gives me the false feeling of "never".

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