Thursday, November 15, 2007

Japan's "melody roads"

One way to get drivers to maintain the speed limit is to ticket them when they go over the limit. Another way is to carve a long series of parallel grooves across the road's surface so that cars traveling over the grooves at just the right speed will hear a melody.

These "melody roads" are designed so that the blacktop ballad will sound just right only if you drive over the grooves at just the right speed—the speed limit.

The "road song" heard in the first video below is "Miagete Goran" (Look Up), originally made famous by Kyu Sakamoto. Mr. Sakamoto, who died in a plane crash in 1985, is best known in America for "Sukiyaki," one of only two foreign-language songs to ever reach the top of the U.S. music charts. (Give yourself an "A" in music trivia for this week if you know what the other song is.)

If you've never heard "Miagete Goran" before, watching the bottom video first will help you detect the tune in the "melody road" video.

Still, I can't help thinking that "Look Up" is not the kind of message to send to people while they're driving. . .

The road that plays "Miagete Goran"

Kyu Sakamoto singing "Miagete Goran"

—Mellow Monk

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