Dragon Dance: A Japanese jazu kissa-inspired listening experience in the heart of East Belfast.

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'The Awakening'. A solitary, haunting sax cuts through the cold December air. The sound of Billy Harper soars above bowed heads, invisible – not only to the closed eyes – as it spills through the space.

For Bartmanski & Woodward, “playing vinyl encourages various ritualistic engagements: localised immobile and immersive listening, [and] careful selection.”1 This paper is centred around the focused, communal experience of an audience listening to jazz on vinyl at the Tokyo Jazz Joints: Belfast listening event in the Sound Advice record shop. This event was conceived and curated by me, photographer and researcher Philip Arneill, and co-creator of Tokyo Jazz Joints, an audio-visual project which has documented the unique world of Japanese jazz listening spaces since 2015. The first event of its kind in Belfast, it was designed to channel the spirit of Japan’s jazu kissa(ten) (lit. “jazz tea-drinking shop”) and recreate their ambience within a different physical and cultural milieu. Over the course of two hours on a cold December evening in East Belfast, 36 attendees were invited to listen to a curated selection of jazz tracks on vinyl in the intimate environment of a local record shop, without moving around, using phones, or talking. This paper reflects on the listening event through creative nonfiction writing, embedded QR-coded voice notes from individual participants and by situating it within the wider context of vinyl and listening culture.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to)8-18
Number of pages11
JournalRiffs: Experimental Writing on Popular Music
Issue number2
Early online date7 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 7 Feb 2023


  • jazz, listening, Japan, Belfast, East Belfast, Coltrane, Billy Harper, Makoto Terashita, kissa, jazz kissa


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