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Porsche Embraces Japan’s Songs of the Road

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If you happen to drive a Porsche 718 Cayman to the Observatory in Takayama Japan, don’t be surprised by the familiar tunes coming from your tires. In a Porsche press release, they investigate the social impact of this unique program.

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Musical roads are nothing new, but Civil Engineer Shizuo Shinoda discovered they had many benefits. On the northern island of Hokkaido, tractors and farm implements damaged his drive to work, and the ruts reminded him of a familiar tune. So he began working with the Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute to study further uses for musical asphalt.

The first observation is that drivers simply enjoy the melodies. Several roads in Gunma Prefecture have famous tunes. From “When you wish upon a star” to “Take me home, country roads”, are joined by many traditional Japanese tunes. The real genius is that the songs are only played in the correct key if you are driving the speed limit.

Another noted effect is keeping drivers alert. This has led to more ambitious projects like a road in Akitakata. Driving there, your right tires play the rhythm while your lefts play the chorus. Properly tuning the roads has been an advunture unto itself. Residents of Kita-Karuizawa complained in July of 2012 that the tunes could be heard for almost 1/3 of a mile.

There is probably more to this story, perhaps the melodies won’t play on American or Italian rubber. Nitto and Toyo are both excellent brands so it could be time for an upgrade. If you want to test this for yourself, the 718 Cayman would be the most fun, as the firm suspension bushings will allow the sounds to enter the cabin. But if you are like us, the throaty exhaust might cause us to exceed the 40 kmh speed limit. Some songs are better in fast forward, so tell us what you would drive in the comments below.

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P.S. Florida’s roads are designed to sound and feel like the Western Front, which might account for some of the road rage.