The cover story “Chindonya: The beat goes on” in the Aug. 4 edition filled me with Showa Era nostalgia. It’s great that this profession has survived even in Reiwa Era 2019, though the number of professional chindonya (street musician advertisers) is small. To my surprise, even overseas this concept is highly regarded as a distinctly Japanese cultural heritage. In contrast, Japanese society tends to give it the cold shoulder.

According to the article, some will supplement their chindonya income by taking part in stage shows or playing chindon music in a live house, making the best use of their skills. Seeing a live performance will be a good opportunity for people to take more interest in and understand them more deeply.

These troupes are really proud of and passionate about their profession. I am impressed by all that they do. However, I feel anxious about their tough work environment, seven hours a day in a heavy traditional garment, and in sizzling summer and freezing winter. Also, I find their financial situation worrying. Some of them might quit this profession. And to make masters worse, in our aging society with fewer children, a lack of newcomers could ultimately threaten this traditional art. Some form of subsidy for these performers is urgently needed.

It’s easy to be enthusiastic about chindonya and their warm-hearted, analog renditions, which are unique each time they perform them.


The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

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