As Autumn rolls on, the sounds of the coming winter are becoming more and more common. In Canada, you might hear the sound of firewood being split and stacked, or lakes cracking as they start to freeze over. In Japan, you might hear the jingles of the oil delivery trucks or sweet potato trucks rolling through your neighbourhood. The signs of the changing seasons can come from nature, but often in this urban world, they are human sounds. Living in a foreign land, one gets to experience the sounds produced by the local culture and every season we can enjoy a myriad of different sounds. In November we can hear people walking along tree lined streets, chatting away happily while enjoying the Autumn leaves, the colours of the leaves filtering the sunlight onto the path below the tree branches. The rustle of my neighbours raking the fallen leaves is another sound I hear, marking the end of Autumn. Yet another sound is the whistle of the sweet potato truck’s traditional wood fired stove as it lets off steam, rolling around Otsu selling giant, piping hot foiled wrapped natural sweets.
Shiga prefecture, where I live, is more rural than neighbouring Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya and as such we have many farm related sounds as well. In this season farmers are clearing the rice fields, preparing them for the winter freeze, their tractors blocking the roads as they move from one field to the next. People are starting to pull out their ski and snowboard gear, the sound of them scraping off last year’s wax music to my ears. Children are playing in the parks, the last chance before it’s too cold to do so easily. Their cries of joy as they run around, the rustle of leafs as the jump into piles of them. These are the sounds I hear, which tell me that winter is just around the corner, however the sunshine today reminds me that the last vestiges of summer are still here. The final sound of the day which tells me that winter is truly coming: the sound of the auto-fill bathtub, telling me that it is now full and I may go and soak away the stresses of the day and warm my body, as well as my soul. Winter is coming, and it sounds wonderful!
Edward, Smith’s School of English Otsu