Noisy Kids in Japan

Kids in Tokyo MIGHT be allowed to make noise again!

japanese kids

Much as I dislike noise, the situation described in this article seems to be a bit much, even for a Noise Curmudgeon. In fact, it seems down right wrong! So it is good to hear that there is going to be a change.

What am I referring to? This:

“According to a noise pollution ordinance enacted 15 years ago in the outskirts of the Japanese capital, no person can make noise in excess of 45 decibels, which is about the volume of a bird whistle.”

So this means children can’t make noise outside –  outside in parks,outside on the streets, outside at daycares – nowhere.

Whoa! Kids not allowed to make noise? Even in a playground? Crazy! But now they are thinking about exempting children under the age of 12.

Here is another article on the topic. It describes a number of legal cases of neighbours filing damages claims.

This short article notes that the issue is part of a much larger vicious circle – in a society that has fewer and fewer children, people hear them less and less, and are then more bothered by the noise from children, leading them to want laws to “silence” the kids. Given that a quarter of the population of Japan is now over 65 years old, you can see the problem.

I think many of us are aware that Japan, especially its cities, is a loud country:

“It’s not like Japan is a quiet nation, what with all the convenience stores blasting electronic greetings the whole day and politicians with megaphones campaigning in train stations. But it seems that the tolerance from the sounds of children playing or just making their mostly natural noises is getting lower and lower. Day care centers are putting up sound barriers to mask the noise that children make and avoid the ire of neighbouring residences or establishments. Sports clubs have put up restrictions on what time children can play outside, also to avoid upsetting neighbours and club members. Masako Madea, a population specialist at Japan’s Konan University said they faced opposition from residents in Yokohama when the project she was involved in was planning to build day care centers in the area. A family in Tokyo sued a nearby day care center for “emitting noise” and is asking for $172,000 in damages for “mental suffering”. (

As one of the articles notes, “People must realize that children are the future of rapidly graying Japan and work to create an environment in which their presence is not only welcome but encouraged.” Exactly!

japanese seniorsAnd now – the latest update on the situation – the Tokyo Metropolitan Government recently passed a bylaw exempting nurseries from the noise bylaw. BUT – watch out – the oldies are still kicking up a fuss about those noisy kids. Read more here.

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