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.

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Comments
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
10/02/2012 6:40 PM   
I love Somewhere Street.
Thanks for sharing the link to NHK I can now listen to the theme song over and over.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
10/13/2012 4:18 AM   
Just so you know, it is shown in English on NHK World with the narrator dubbed in English.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
12/28/2012 7:16 PM   
Fantastic show!
Like it very much and never miss it. It is so relaxing and informative show.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
1/23/2013 1:18 PM   
"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.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
3/03/2013 12:03 AM   
What's the name of the theme song, "Somewhere Street" and where can I download?
# posted by Blogger Eugene
3/03/2013 11:51 AM   
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.
# posted by Anonymous annode
3/09/2013 9:28 AM   
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.
# posted by Anonymous annode
3/10/2013 10:51 AM   
- UPDATE- I found episodes on SOKU, but unfortunately I don`t speak Japanese. :( At least it`s better then nothing I guess.
# posted by Anonymous Lorraine, UK
10/12/2014 5:02 AM   
I watch NHK World in the UK and Somewhere Street is my favourite programme on there. They are rebroadcasting the show again.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
11/22/2014 5:12 PM   
Absolutely the best show on tv.
I never miss an episode,takes me
to a better place every time.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
11/23/2014 8:11 PM   
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.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
12/08/2014 10:05 AM   
Is there a local translator that goes along in every country?
# posted by Blogger Eugene
12/08/2014 10:57 AM   
My impression is that a bilingual guide accompanies the camera crew and asks all the questions.
# posted by Blogger Jean Mathews
1/11/2015 7:25 AM   
Best travelogue. Can I watch it in You tube?
# posted by Blogger Eugene
1/11/2015 9:32 AM   
Only if somebody pirated and posted it, I'm afraid.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
1/24/2015 3:39 PM   
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!!
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
3/29/2015 8:13 PM   
Excellent show! I have looked for torrents with no luck...
# posted by Blogger Jean Mathews
6/27/2015 8:12 AM   
Great travelogue.
# posted by Blogger Jean Mathews
6/27/2015 8:13 AM   
Great travelogue.
# posted by Blogger Jean Mathews
6/27/2015 8:13 AM   
Great travelogue.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
6/28/2015 2:10 AM   

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!!!!!!!
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
6/28/2015 2:30 AM   
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!
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
7/02/2015 12:02 PM   
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
# posted by Blogger psycho-san
9/20/2015 12:34 PM   
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!




# posted by Blogger Eugene
9/21/2015 7:36 AM   
Now that you mention it, you can also get the region 2 DVDs at YesAsia.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
2/18/2016 7:21 PM   
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.
# posted by Blogger reggiecl
3/14/2016 6:41 AM   
Thanks for sharing the themesong link. I'm hooked watching this movie in youtube
# posted by Blogger Unknown
5/23/2016 11:09 PM   
I am a big fan of this program me, it inspires me to travel into many different countries.
# posted by Blogger jule_smith
6/26/2016 4:07 PM   
It's also in English. Go to http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/tv/somewhere/
# posted by Blogger Ojay
7/12/2016 1:06 PM   
Any idea who the English language female narrator is?
# posted by Blogger Eugene
7/12/2016 5:53 PM   
Not for that episode, but Josh Keller narrated this one.
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
10/02/2016 12:54 AM   
There are many episodes here: http://www.getlinkyoutube.com/playlist?list=PLlvv-XeEWsbc7iLhLRSGRLF5TkkFf7P9x
# posted by Blogger Gail Y. Bennett
2/19/2017 7:55 AM   
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.
# posted by Blogger Unknown
5/23/2017 2:46 AM   
Somewhere in the street is my one of my favorite shows! and its theme song is absolutely incredible and I am a big fan of this program
# posted by Anonymous Angela CA
6/10/2017 10:50 PM   
Somewhere Street is my favorite travel program too!! When I travel, I try to get moments in that remind me of Somewhere Street. It inspires me to be curious and be interested in what regular strangers are doing. I once stayed in a fish factory converted into an apartment building located in a Norwegian fishing village...ahhh...it was so Somewhere Street!
6/25/2017 5:03 PM   
Somewhere Street is delightful! The ability to wander through a location that I am visiting is one of my favorite parts of travel and SS captures this mode (and mood) brilliantly. Your description of the show is excellent!
# posted by Anonymous Burt Weiner
8/22/2017 10:02 PM   
Somewhere Street and NHK World is what television was meant to be. My wife and I watch NHK world over the air on KCET-DT4 in Los Angeles. It's there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We saw Somewhere Street this evening.

I did a search on the Internet for "Somewhere Street" main theme, and found it on YouTube. I also have the NHK World application in my phone and it sounds and looks like a million dollars.

Thank you NHK and KCET for this wonderful programming

biwaUSA
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
8/29/2017 12:46 PM   
I LOVE somewhere street. Me and my dad enjoy the naration so much. The way its filmed really is like exploring a new town for yourself. And the music is so relaxing and beautiful. You can now watch most episodes on youtube. Keep up the good work NHK x
# posted by Blogger CGPlenty
8/31/2017 1:03 PM   
This is one of my all time favorite shows! I suffer from chronic wanderlust without the means to appease my travel desires. Somewhere Street (watched on NHK World) is my weekly escape to other places. It's so well done I sometimes feel as if I've actually been there!
# posted by Blogger Unknown
9/10/2017 9:51 PM   
guys do you know the complete list of episodes of somewhere street? hehehe, love this show, thanks
# posted by Blogger vikram
3/31/2018 10:07 PM   
This is one of my favorite tv show, also love most the background music which is quite serene, I Watch this from India
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
4/09/2019 2:37 PM   
I watch the episodes on series link on NHK World in the UK. There's hundreds of episodes it seems, although some are repeats. They also have a shorter 15 mins version of some called A short stroll. Amazing stuff
# posted by Anonymous Anonymous
8/11/2019 3:39 PM   
My wife and I discovered this show last year (broadcast by my cable provider in the Washington DC area of the US). I hadn't appreciated the technique behind it before reading this blog, but we both love the show. It is so effective at conveying goodwill and genuine interest in the residents of the featured city, and communicating that to the audience. Has anyone seen another NHK program called "Document 72 Hours"? We also love that one. Its locations seem to be all in Japan, but it communicates a similar interest in ordinary people as they go about their lives.