Japan Turns Roads Into Musical Instruments

From the "only in Japan" file comes the Melody Road, an ingenious project that has transformed stretches of three Japanese highways into mobile music boxes!

A little traveling music, please!A little traveling music, please!

The theory behind the Melody Road is surprisingly simple: a car driven over a series of grooves cut into a roadway will create a resonance as the tires repeatedly cross the grooves. You may have noticed this effect while driving over roads under construction or highway ramps that have been grooved to provide extra traction in inclement weather conditions.

It took a certain Mr. Shinoda, working with the Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute, to apply the sonic resonance theory in a unique way. Shinoda discovered that by varying the spacing between the cut grooves, the pitch of the sound would vary. It's somewhat similar to an old-fashioned music box that uses metal times and posts to play a tune when set in motion against one another. It might not be as soothing to the ear as your favorite CD, but considering it's being played by the "Goodyear Orchestra", it's really not all that bad!

Melody Roads are located in the provinces of Hokkaido, Wakayama and Gunma, and are well-marked by roadside signs and colorful painted "notes" on the roadbed itself. Drivers should be aware that the music, as it were, is ideally heard when drivers maintain a speed of just 28 mph - on a highway, yet.


"Melody Road begins, try not to freak out""Melody Road begins, try not to freak out"

Here's a new video in which you can hear the Melody Road in action, c/o the popular Japanese TV show "Music Station":

Questions remain as to the long-term effect of the Melody Road on tire wear, whether the altered roadway will need more maintenance over the years, and if Japanese citizens will rebel against what seems to be an extravagant use of public funds for no real purpose. Then again, this is Japan - therefore, it's just business as usual! (via deputydog)

Steve Levenstein
Japanese Innovations Writer

Nov 17, 2007
by Anonymous (not verified)

Melody roads

Disney did this on a back road ages ago. Nice concept though.

Feb 23, 2009
by Anonymous

musical instrument

i need pictures of musical instrument