The Yomiuri Shimbun FUNABASHI, Chiba — An urban project called “street piano” has been attracting passersby at a commercial facility in Chiba Prefecture, as anyone can sit and play a public piano there for free.
The piano is located on the second floor of a shopping mall in the Funabashi Face building, which connects the JR Funabashi Station area and Keisei Funabashi Station.
The Funabashi Face store association placed the piano there in the hope that people who walk by will enjoy listening to live piano music between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Many people from the city and other places are visiting the mall every day to enjoy playing the piano.
The local association placed the piano on May 27. It is a Yamaha UX upright, an exquisite instrument made in the Showa era (1926-1989), and was donated by Itogakki based in Funabashi, which runs musical instrument shops and music schools mainly in the prefecture.
A Chiba Prefecture boy who lives in Matsudo and attends a high school in Ichikawa, started playing the piano at around 4 p.m. on June 17.
For the past two weeks or so, he has been stopping by almost every day on his way home from school.
He has been practicing on his own and said he’s happy that many people listen to his performances. After he finished, he was greeted with words of appreciation by a woman who stopped to listen to his music.
Shortly after 5 p.m. on June 18, a woman from Yachiyo, also in Chiba Prefecture, was heard playing. She said it was her fourth visit here in a week.
Following that, a female company employee from Chiba passionately performed a jazz piece.
“Practicing piano in public is quite different, as it has a sense of tension.” she said.
Street pianos are popular in Europe and elsewhere, and they are often placed at stations and airports.
Now, it is catching on in Japan as well. The concept became better known after a street piano appeared in an underground shopping street near Kannai Station in Yokohama in December.
According to the Yokohama municipal government, around 50 or 60 people perform at the underground mall on weekdays, while more than 100 people play on weekends. Occasionally, strangers hit it off and play a duet, or someone starts dancing to the music.
Shizue Fukukawa, a member of the secretariat of the Funabashi Face association, proposed placing the piano in the shopping mall. “We want to make it a commercial facility suitable for a ‘town of music,’ which Funabashi city has been aiming for,” she said.Speech