Japan's station music peps up commuters

Japan's station music peps up  commuters

Minoru Mukaiya composes "hassha merodie" or "train departure melodies" that suit the rhythm of journeys and are a nod to local history and culture.

Minoru Mukaiya is one of the world's most played musicians, with millions of people across Japan listening to his songs every day but most of them don't even notice.

Mukaiya is a composer of Hassha Merodii or train departure melodies, short jingles that play as commuters make their way at some of the world's busiest stations.

Almost no one would know his most famous track by name, a catchy electronic ditty broadcast for departures from platforms three and four at Tokyo's Shibuya station the world's third busiest but millions have it on their brains for hours after their commute.

Asked how many train jingles he has created, the 61-year-old former keyboard player with the jazz-fusion band Casiopea pauses. He has lost count and an assistant rushes over with a list.

"170? What? I wrote 170," he says, exploding with laughter.

Hassha Merodii is so common now in Japan that locals are unfazed when the sharp twang of an electronic keyboard or an organ's trill spills out of a loudspeaker but tourists are often thrilled.

He has more than 34,000 Twitter followers, performs the ditties at concerts to thousands of screaming fans and is now banned from playing at Ginza station the epicentre of Tokyo swankafter a live show there sparked pandemonium.

Fans tell him the music is "good for their health, for their work, for walking. It warms them up" after a hard commute to the office, Mukaiya said. "I want them to be happy."

Hassha Merodii started when train operators were looking for ways to make their stations stand out and came up with the idea of a catchy jingle.

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