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Custom of making noise at nightfall? 2012/2/23 20:37
Hi, I am new to living in Japan and I have no idea if this is an actual custom (as opposed to somebody being quirky) but there is a man in our neighborhood who consistently walks around just after nightfall, hitting two polished wooden blocks together twice in a row, over and over. It took several attempts to find out where this sound was coming from and tonight I was actually able to see it for myself. I tried looking this up but came up with nothing relating to a custom or religious practice. Please let me know what this is about.

by sarah (guest)  

Re: Custom of making noise at nightfall? 2012/2/23 21:21

The wood blocks are called "hyoshigi", and are also used at the start of sumo tournaments. Outside the big cities, it's still pretty common for people to patrol the streets like that at night to remind people to take care against fires, which are very common in winter when people forget to turn off their kerosene heaters etc.
So rest assured; it's not some eccentric old guy, although it might seem rather anachronistic.
by Dave in Saitama (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Custom of making noise at nightfall? 2012/2/23 22:54
If you'd like to know more, here's an article on the volunteer fire corps from the Japan Times.

by Laenir rate this post as useful

Re: Custom of making noise at nightfall? 2012/2/25 14:07
The "hi no youjin" people patrol in winter in the cities as well as rural areas- everywhere I've lived in the Kanto area (Yokohama, Saitama, west Tokyo, central Tokyo) I've heard members of the neighbourhood association or volunteer fire corps going around banging the hyoshigi a few evenings in early winter.

I'm not sure how effective it is, but it's nice that some old customs like that continue!
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: Custom of making noise at nightfall? 2012/2/25 14:31
So interesting! because the Yomawari activity is nothing special where the linkage in the local community is still effective. And the link Laenir provided gives you a good explanation.

Yeah, Yomawari is regarded as a good social volunteer activity. You can see the governor of Mie Prefecture and prefectural police offer actually meets and support them.
by K (guest) rate this post as useful

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