I’m living in my sixth apartment in Japan so I’m a bit of an expert on neighborhood noise. Here’s my list of the seven most annoying noises I’ve had to live with over the last nine years.
7. The food trucks.
Late in the evening these guys come round with music blaring from their little trucks, hoping you’ll rush out of your apartment to buy whatever delicacy they’re selling. Not today, thank you!
6. The politicians.
They only come round when there’s an election going on, but they drive you crazy with their megaphones and hand waving. Maybe I’d wave back if I were eligible to vote, but I’m not, so I wish they’d take their smiles and megaphones somewhere else!
5. The neighbors.
I’ve lived next to a guy who would scream every half an hour in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, and now we’re living next to a lunatic mother that screams at her young son, threatening to kill him (we’ve informed the police and she’s on their watchlist). Besides these two, another pet hate of mine is futon-beating. Early in the morning, all the housewives hang out their futons on their balconies and wack them repeatedly to get rid of the dust. The noise echoes between the buildings like a drum – not fun when you want to lie in.
4. The schools.
This would be at no.1 if it were my apartment but this was an experience I had when staying over at an old girlfriend’s place. Being an ESL teacher, I usually start work in the afternoon, and my girlfriend was working the night shift so she had no intentions of waking up early. But at 8am the megaphones turned on just meters from her window playing the loudest dance music you’d hear outside of a nightclub. The elementary school next door was preparing for its sports day. Seriously, it was outrageous noise so I threw on my clothes and stormed over to the school. I walked right in and demanded to speak to the principal. Although I was angry, he seemed happy to meet an Englishman and got me a cup of green tea. He promised to turn down the noise (which he never did) and insisted on asking me questions about the queen!
3. The trains.
My first apartment in Japan was right by Kanayama station in Nagoya. It’s the second biggest station in the city with probably a dozen lines passing through it. When I agreed to take the apartment I was told that the trains wouldn’t run after midnight. They failed to tell me that freight trains wouldn’t stop. So, often in the middle of the night I’d wake up thinking I was in an earthquake, but it was just another train.
2. The airplanes.
I’m unfortunate enough to live right by the Kakamigahara Air Force base. Last week was their annual air show so they’ve been practicing all the time. When the planes go over, our apartment shakes and the sound is deafening. Here’s a picture from the air show. If I had taken a photo from my balcony the planes would have been much nearer!
1. The bosozoku biker gangs.
The undisputed winners of my ‘Most Annoying Neighborhood Noises’ award. These kids ride their bikes and scooters around in the middle of the night at a snail’s pace, revving their engines, often in gangs of twenty or more. What makes the noise even worse is that the police, who are powerless to stop them, tend to follow them around with their sirens wailing! The bosozoku came every night so I made an effort for one month to call the police every time to complain. Did they do anything? Of course not.
If I’ve missed anything, leave a comment!If you like, you can find me on Twitter at @nick_ramsay. I'd love to hear from you!