June 18, 2012

Somewhere Street


I can't think of another travel program as simple and serenely compelling as NHK's Somewhere Street.

The basic crew (I'm sure there are more) is a Steadicam operator, a producer, and a sound man. The producer and the mikes are kept off screen. You experience only what the Steadicam operator sees and hears.

A "host" never appears on camera.

They avoid the tourist traps, gliding instead into little shops, peeking around open doors, encountering slices of life here and there, stopping people to ask what is going on and where.

The narration has the air of a curious tourist thinking out loud as he strolls along. And happens to be perfectly fluent in the language.

Here's where mike placement come into play. The conversations are engaged in the local language. The interviewee is subtitled. The interviewer (always off camera) is looped in Japanese, while preserving the ambient sound.

The Steadicam is the key to the whole thing. Nothing about the cinematography breaks the fourth wall and reminds the viewer, "Hey, I've got a camera! Hey, look at me and the camera!" The "frame" completely disappears.

You really are there. The effect is as if you had your own Babel Fish. They understand everything you say, and you understand everything they say.

Somewhere Street could be easily localized--just loop in English narration and change the subtitles--or shamelessly copied. Somebody at PBS really ought to.


Shusei Murai (村井秀清) composed the music. Starting with the theme song, the first 15 tracks of Merged Images III are from the show. The CD is available at Amazon-JP and CD Japan (English site). The WMP versions are here.

Labels: , , ,

Comments:

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
I love Somewhere Street.
Thanks for sharing the link to NHK I can now listen to the theme song over and over.
10/02/2012 6:40 PM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
Just so you know, it is shown in English on NHK World with the narrator dubbed in English.
10/13/2012 4:18 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
Fantastic show!
Like it very much and never miss it. It is so relaxing and informative show.
12/28/2012 7:16 PM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
"Somewhere Street" is my favorite television show anywhere. It is so relaxing to just sit and watch where the camera goes and the things that transpire. I can hardly wait to see it, every week.
1/23/2013 1:18 PM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
What's the name of the theme song, "Somewhere Street" and where can I download?
3/03/2013 12:03 AM
 

# posted by Blogger Eugene
I've added information about the composer. The theme song is probably on iTunes (I haven't confirmed this), but you'd need a Japanese account or an iTunes-Japan Music Card to download it.
3/03/2013 11:51 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous annode
I`ve only recently gotten into watching the show, and i`m hooked !
Sadly today it seems NHK World has stopped broadcasting the show !!! Can someone assist me how I can continue watching? Maybe online perhaps? Will NHK begin showing the series again? I see NHK World from air in Philadelphia USA.

Thank You.
3/09/2013 9:28 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous annode
- UPDATE- I found episodes on SOKU, but unfortunately I don`t speak Japanese. :( At least it`s better then nothing I guess.
3/10/2013 10:51 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous Lorraine, UK
I watch NHK World in the UK and Somewhere Street is my favourite programme on there. They are rebroadcasting the show again.
10/12/2014 5:02 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
Absolutely the best show on tv.
I never miss an episode,takes me
to a better place every time.
11/22/2014 5:12 PM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
Ha! Nice. My mom and I love this show.

I always try to point out the scarce moments when they do break the fourth wall (reflection in a window, or camera man's shadow). It's all in good fun. And the show is great fun.

I feel very relaxed and peaceful when I watch the show. It's like going on a tour without any of the stress and tired legs.
11/23/2014 8:11 PM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
Is there a local translator that goes along in every country?
12/08/2014 10:05 AM
 

# posted by Blogger Eugene
My impression is that a bilingual guide accompanies the camera crew and asks all the questions.
12/08/2014 10:57 AM
 

# posted by Blogger Jean Mathews
Best travelogue. Can I watch it in You tube?
1/11/2015 7:25 AM
 

# posted by Blogger Eugene
Only if somebody pirated and posted it, I'm afraid.
1/11/2015 9:32 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
Thank you for blogging about the show. I watch it on nhk world but it looks like earlier episodes from 2010. Looking at the translated japanese nhk site for the show, i see they have had brand new episodes every year. i wonder when we will see these newer episodes on nhk world or pbs/kcet? I love the show!!
1/24/2015 3:39 PM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
Excellent show! I have looked for torrents with no luck...
3/29/2015 8:13 PM
 

# posted by Blogger Jean Mathews
Great travelogue.
6/27/2015 8:12 AM
 

# posted by Blogger Jean Mathews
Great travelogue.
6/27/2015 8:13 AM
 

# posted by Blogger Jean Mathews
Great travelogue.
6/27/2015 8:13 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous

I was the one who posted a comment on 1/24/2015 and wanted to share. I live in Los Angeles and have Charter Communications as my cable provider. I signed up for the foreign channel Japan TV included in Charter's foreign tv channel offerings ($15/month) hoping there would be new Somewhere Street episodes and there are new episodes! HOWEVER, it is in Japanese only! No dubbing in English sadly like the old Somewhere Street episodes on NHK World. UGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!
6/28/2015 2:10 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
One more thing I just discovered. If you type this 世界ふれあい街歩き on YouTube, you will see more Somewhere Street episodes Japanese people have uploaded, sadly, in Japanese language only. But better than nothing right! Translation of 世界ふれあい街歩き means World Fureai Machiaruki or World Strollers!
6/28/2015 2:30 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
There is a good person who has posted some episodes on a website called DAILYMOTION.COM. I really wish they would create a DVD for purchase on the NHK website
7/02/2015 12:02 PM
 

# posted by Blogger Unknown
hello everyone,

nice to know there are other Somewhere Street passionatees :)

Wanted to share that I came across the Amazon Japan DVD boxes for the show!!!!

Look up 世界ふれあい街歩き BOX 1 [DVD] on Amazon Japan, because the link looks stupid because the Kanji in it is converted into numbers ;(

I'm so happy to have found them... There are 7 DVDs ! ^^


Unfortunately in Japanese only :( but whatever, I'll learn Japanese for sure one day!




9/20/2015 12:34 PM
 

# posted by Blogger Eugene
Now that you mention it, you can also get the region 2 DVDs at YesAsia.
9/21/2015 7:36 AM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
Thank you for sharing the theme song composer! I love somewhere street! Now there are quite a few episodes in youtube comparing to last few years.
2/18/2016 7:21 PM
 

# posted by Blogger reggiecl
Thanks for sharing the themesong link. I'm hooked watching this movie in youtube
3/14/2016 6:41 AM
 

I am a big fan of this program me, it inspires me to travel into many different countries.
5/23/2016 11:09 PM
 

# posted by Blogger jule_smith
It's also in English. Go to http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/tv/somewhere/
6/26/2016 4:07 PM
 

# posted by Blogger Ojay
Any idea who the English language female narrator is?
7/12/2016 1:06 PM
 

# posted by Blogger Eugene
Not for that episode, but Josh Keller narrated this one.
7/12/2016 5:53 PM
 

# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
There are many episodes here: http://www.getlinkyoutube.com/playlist?list=PLlvv-XeEWsbc7iLhLRSGRLF5TkkFf7P9x
10/02/2016 12:54 AM
 

# posted by Blogger Gail Y. Bennett
Absolutely one of my favorite shows! The show is proof that as humans we are more alike than we are different. The little and big things in our lives are interesting, amazing and above all, matters. I am always impressed by the way we (people everywhere) make the most of our stations in life. This show demonstrates that life is to be lived and to be grateful for our experiences.
2/19/2017 7:55 AM