There are a lot of uniquely Japanese sounds. But the two I'm writing about today appear on cold winter nights, and echo eerily through the dark, empty streets between dinner and bedtime.
Yaki-imo are sweet potatoes roasted over flames in wood fired ovens in small mobile carts or trucks. They're served up wrapped in newspaper, and are not only delicious, but keep your hands warm too. But the most distinctive thing about yaki-imo is that the sellers sing a very distinct yaki-imo song. They typically make the rounds until just after dinner time, and I always found their song a bit eerie drifting though the dark streets.
Hi no Youjin
kotatsu, but another is that kerosene and gas heaters are still commonly used for heating. Every year, housefires result from people forgetting to shut of their heaters before bed. As a reminder to shut off the heaters, people walk through town late at night, carrying lanterns and clacking wooden blocks together, calling out hi no youjin: be careful with fire. The sound of the blocks typically carries for many blocks, and you often hear their calls echoing through town, coming and going for up to half an hour as you lay in bed.