On station songs

Over the last few years I have been interested in a good number of songs frequently found on YouTube. These songs all follow a very specific pattern and is almost entirely by one small group of people that you can't find on Wikipedia (and won't be on there for a long time yet).

They call themselves "駅名記憶向上委員会" (ekimei kioku koujou iinkai, lit. "Station Name Memory Improvement Committee") with the English abbreviation of "STANMIC", and as their name suggests they are mainly a Japanese channel. It's not actually a group of people with meetings, though they do have group events and projects and suchlike. I'm not really knowledgeable on their inner workings so I'm not going to elaborate on them very much, but they appear to just be your usual bunch of good fellas.

Meanwhile, their primary creative output are fairly accessible to me, and I'd like to talk about them a bit more. It's so simple I don't think they have a name, and I tend to refer to them by basically what they are in a simple string interpolation system. It goes like this:

1. Take a song.

2. Replace all the lyrics with the names of train stations.

3. Have a Vocaloid or an Utauloid sing it.

4. You are done.

Such is the simplicity of this, my name for this type of song is simply "$Vocaloid sings the stations of $line in order to the tune of $song". If that's too long, then "station songs" is good enough.

Here are a couple of examples from a list I have collected that are available as of time of writing. Because of the nature of the Internet, they are ephemeral and they may vanish after a couple of months or years. (I have private copies, but I will not publish them.)

Romeo and Cinderella | Den'atsu Sora | Route from Hirosaki to Maihama on the Maihama Dream

letter song | Kasane Teto | Hakodate Main Line (and some others)

A Whole New World | Mine Laru & Yamine Renri | Keikyu Main Line

Tabitachi no Hi ni | Kasane Teto, Yamine Renri, Rouon Aro | the five loss-making lines of JR Hokkaido

A Sardine Grows from the Earth | Kasane Teto | IGR Iwate Ginkya Railway and Aoimori Tetsudo

Aruite Ikou | Kasane Teto & Defoko | Lines operated by Odakyu

Mahou wo Kakete | Gahata Meiji | Kurihara Den'en Tetsudo Line & Towada Kanko Dentetsu Line

Tsunami | Mine Laru | Kabe Line

How to Conquer The World | Namine Ritsu & Matsudappoiyo | Soya Main Line

Sayonara no Mukougawa | Toei Shinjuku Line & Keio Line

Okuru Kotoba | Hatsune Miku, Kasane Teto & Suiga Sora | Tama Monorail

These are only some of the over 200 I have on the list and I've been fairly strict about including them. So you can tell just how many there are.

Almost all the songs are in Japanese and the stations are in Japan, such is the composition of the community. On occasion, a few other forays to other places, like Korea, Taiwan, and even further afield, are considered, though the results may not be comprehensible to native speakers simply because of the loose phonotactics of other languages as compared to Japanese.

To me, these songs are something that's has an amazing effect on me, in various ways.

First of course is that it basically gave me a kick start in learning Japanese vocabulary. As many of the place names in Japan turn out to also make up a bunch of regular Japanese vocabulary, it has helped reinforce the relationship between the writing (which I recognise easily) and the language.

Second, knowing about the stations lets me imagine these far-away places and raise my interest in these places in general. They do have interesting names that are comprehensible and transparent yet fairly different from those I see every day, which helps with a lot of the fascination.

Third is that it combines several topics into one that I have not encountered before. That simply increases the novelty factor, and I have in the meantime learnt a lot about things are made in the meantime. This was indeed the my introduction to all of train anorak-ness plus the world of Vocaloid.

Finally, there's the fact that ultimately the construction is very simple in form, even if the creation process is slightly more involved. The structure of each song is transparent and easy to understand, which adds to its appeal, and more importantly has added to the idea that I can probably do it myself. This is the main impetus for me to make my own 2D video rendering software, though that has not been in progress for a while.

So that's about it, apart from a few parting notes: it's better to observe from afar; the videos occasionally vanish into thin air, so keep your own backups; and of course it'd be great if I can make some with my own experience some day.

Additional information

Some context, and a few other titbits:

A Vocaloid, or more correctly generically a singing synthesizer, is a voice that one can program to sing a song. Station songs typically either use Vocaloids (a singing synthesizer created for the proprietary software of the same name) or UTAUloids (those for a freeware, nigh-on-abandon-ware Windows program UTAU).

There are complementary genres for various other lists of things frequently involving transport, such as bus stops, highway junctions and once even the game score in a particular game of shogi.

I've made a prototype for my conworld. It's not very good.

Similar efforts have been invented independently by some English speakers (notably by Jay Foreman). The results are fairly different is mainly because the song normally comes first and the list of stations are sung out of order.