Unique Japanese train departure melodies29 January, 2012 by Chad
Every once in a while my tetsudo instincts kick in and I’m compelled to write an article like this. Despite Japan being better known for its tendency to conform, there’s just something about Japanese train stations and how they each exude a distinct personality that is only possible with privately owned stations such as those by Japan Railways. One large contributing factor is the use of unique departure jingles at many commonly used stations.
Ride the tube enough times and you’ll easily have one of these melodies burned into your memory. The short arrangements are played whenever the train doors are about to close, which is once every 45 seconds at its peak. Many stations use a generic door closing warning, but the stations around the most used Yamanote Line have been famous for its unique tunes. There is a certain sense of comfort in hearing these familiar jingles, though not everyone may agree.
Here are some particularly memorable examples.
“Seseragi” (Murmur). Common generic tune heard at various stations around Tokyo.
Twilight. Another common jingle.
Spring. Again another you’ll hear at many JR stations.
One of the more unique ones. You’ll hear the Astro Boy theme song each time you pass by Takanobaba Station on the Yamanote Line.
The Ebisu Station is named after the same line of beer by Sapporo Brewery. The company has had its headquarters here. Ebisu Station’s train jingle is from one of their old commercials and is also the theme song of the musical Daisan no Otoko (The Third Man).
Harajuku Station has not one but two unique jingles, one for each track.
The Musashi-Koganei station where the Edo-Tokyo Open Air Museum is located has differents variants of the traditional “Sakura Sakura” for each of its tracks too.
In recent news, Japanese TV stations have expressed their desire to have trains stations replace generic station tunes with those from television commercials. This is through the use of a brand new patented system developed by Zenrin Promo and Switch (the sound company responsible for JR and Tokyo Metro’s unique train jingles) that will allow for programmable jingles.
Discussions with the larger railway companies are still ongoing. But next month, two stations in Kanto will adopt this new advertising system that is being called 発車メロディー deプロモ (Promo by Departing Melody).Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.
Supermerlion's Webmaster and Editor-in-Chief. Singaporean Nikkeijin with over 12 years of experience in the media industry. Producer at a Japanese entertainment company. Former Web Developer, Graphic Designer, Multimedia Programmer, Manager and Consultant. Shoots with a Canon 5Dmk2 and Sony RX100-2.