Japan Today



Residents up in arms over children's noise at daycare centers


Citizens are up in arms. Their neighborhoods are being invaded by the noise generated by children at daycare centers, and must be defended. How? With individual complaints to begin with, followed, if necessary, by organized protests. Beyond that are the courts – a last but not unthinkable resort. Several cases nationwide already have gone to court.

Uneasily aware of the fact, a daycare operator called Blossom suspended its planned April 1 opening of a new daycare center in Tokyo’s Meguro Ward. The hope is that passions will die down and an amicable settlement emerge. Sometimes that happens. More often, it doesn’t.

Daycare, you’d think, is innocence itself, uncontroversial if any topic is. The nation needs children. Fewer and fewer are being born – due in large part to a shortage of daycare centers. Daycare centers take daytime charge of the preschool children of working parents. Preschool children are harmless and adorable. What’s the problem?

Noise. Children play. Playing children are noisy. That’s life. On the other hand, residents of quiet neighborhoods want quiet. That’s life too. Central and local governments struggling to fill the daycare vacuum find themselves in increasingly bitter conflict with local residents determined to defend their peace and quiet.

Nationwide, reports NHK (March 31), some 43,000 kids are on daycare waiting lists, waiting for openings. The number for the Tokyo metropolitan area is 12,447. Meguro’s waiting lists, says J-Cast (March 31), rank 8th among Tokyo’s 23 wards – 247 names long. The Blossom center would have accommodated 57. Whether the Blossom center has a future, the future will tell.

Opposition to it began almost as soon as it became known that the ward government was sounding out various private sector daycare operators about their possible cooperation. That was last October. As much as anything else, says J-Cast, residents were infuriated by the way the project was sprung on them, and Yoshitaka Nishio, president of the company that operates Blossom, admits they have a point. “We pushed the wrong button on that,” he says, meaning meetings should have been held with residents beforehand.

What he would have heard is clear from comments collected by J-Cast. Shouting, laughing, maybe sometimes crying children whose emotions and expressions of them know no bounds, are the biggest problem but not the only one. Another is increased traffic along narrow residential streets not designed for it. One comment sums things up: “It’ll turn into a completely different neighborhood.”

One of several ongoing court cases, mentioned by NHK, concerns a daycare center that went up in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward in 2006. Neighbors from day one expressed anxiety about noise. The center promised soundproof walls. They did the trick when the kids were indoors but not, obviously, when they played outside. A Tokyo ordinance in effect at the time set a maximum noise limit of 45 decibels, which plaintiffs say the center exceeds. A suit was filed in 2011 and the case is ongoing.

The ordinance in question has lately been amended, a revised version going into effect on April 1. It exempts preschool children from the 45-decibel standards and calls upon the parties concerned to reach agreement based on common sense rather than on the letter of the law. Fair enough – but between children’s rights to make as much noise as their little lungs can produce and grownups’ rights to quiet in their own homes, where does common sense lie?

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Kids are noisy. They discover life.

Whiners have been quiet kids? Don't think so...

11 ( +15 / -4 )

Hmm....Nation birthrate declining...the children that are being born/raised have no daycare due to residents being upset about noise...they were children too so they should have some understanding that they are not some rock band blaring its music but human beings/kids trying to live life...noise not an issue at night when kids/grownups would be asleep anyway...more traffic means more people in area/more money spent in area--if they really wanted peace then why don't they move to the countryside?(just a thought)

8 ( +10 / -2 )

They should make a law to protect daycares from noise complaints when the noise is the voices of the children (I can understand the complaints if they are blaring music, or constant announcements or something).

If someone doesn't like they noise, they should move. It's unrealistic to expect children not to play, and frankly, it's quite disgusting.

16 ( +23 / -7 )

Wow... who is evil enough to hate the sound of children's laughter so much that they sue? We need more daycares to encourage the falling birth rate. (but preferably not next to my property since it's in a really nice area and I paid alot for it)

10 ( +19 / -9 )

Cities in Japan have a much greater level of noise pollution than those of any other developed economy — and residents of these cities have a very high tolerance for that noise and constant din. So of all the noise pollution in Japan, why is it that noise from children, and not other forms of noise, spark their outrage?

I bet these same people never complain about the blaring loudspeakers of the kerosene/heating oil trucks, political campaign trucks, junk collector trucks (fuyohin kaishusha), the guy repeatedly screaming "irrashyaimase" just feet from your ear at the local supermarket, or the endless stream of useless announcements at the train station.

34 ( +38 / -4 )

Sensato. Your last paragraph summed it all up. Thanks-

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Sensato - totally agree. Incessant at times.

A few years back stayed at a friends "besso" log cabin in a largish town for a weekend.

Sunday morning @ 6:30am, wife & I shocked out of our slumber by Beethoven's 9th at full bore.

Followed by a squeaking and scratching speaker and finally the loud, staccato rambling of the local senior, announcing that there were no messages today.

In a peaceful town - I kid you not.

7 ( +10 / -3 )


I live next to a Junior Highschool actually closer to the field than the actual place and it is loud. But who could not love the sound of youth? There's a concert band, loud exercise routines, and announcements and it's a great noise to have in the background.

Daycares are needed now more than ever they are needed a lot more than salty old complainers. Children being loud and young. Let them enjoy it while they can, before their beaten down into slave office workers.

10 ( +14 / -4 )

Hmm....Nation birthrate declining

Obviously the people complaining don't care about the birthrate since they will be dead soon anyways.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Daycare centers are normally closed around 6 or 7 pm, so noise should not be an issue at nights. I don't understand how people can complain, and I bet that they live near a train line and don't mind the sound of trains going by all during the day.

Some people need to lighten up.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

As others have noted, with all the noise pollution in Japan, these people have chosen to aim their wrath at children. It's not unreasonable to speculate that the dislike of children is at the heart of it.

I have this theory, just an idea, that people who dislike children have never themselves grown up. Somewhere inside, they are still a child who needs attention and spoiling - and other real children are their rivals. It must be sad to reach such a late state in life with so little wisdom to show for all the years lived.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Yeah, out of all the sounds you hear daily, to complain about this? In a country with a declining birthrate, where every new kid should be considered a treasure and an investment for the future? Let's complain about the sound trucks, outdoor video screen advertisements, bass-thumping cars or those noise-clowns on their souped-up dirt bikes who love to drive around specifically to be heard and to annoy. Leave the daycares alone. Kids are more like pleasant ambient noise, like birds chirping and singing. A few years ago, I lived in a mostly quiet residential neighborhood and as far as I was concerned, the passing parade of laughing, giggling little kids from the nearby daycare was a charm point. Then I moved downtown next to a hospital and learned what real noise pollution was all about. People protesting daycare noise are complete blithering idiots with withered, little hearts. They don't understand what life is all about. In fact, they're the problem that needs to be solved, not sounds from daycares.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

On J-TV two nights ago they were showing how one day care center with a play ground on their roof had spent a fortune putting up a high way sound barrier, and the govt. paid for double glazed windows on houses facing the center.

Sorry, but double glaze does not stop sound very well, and who does not open their windows? Oh yeah, Japan nature loving people open their windows. Whoops, I forgot, nature loving is a myth. Japanese people are mostly cave dwellers and love cement.

Kids are very noisy here because the parents in general do not teach them how to use their voices. I hear more little brats screaming on the trains, and their parents do absolutely nothing. I was raised to be polite. I also cheered at scoring in games, but I was not an obnoxious little brat in public.

Parents are the issue here, not the kids.

-1 ( +9 / -10 )

I have a little one, and she can really let it out loudly when we try to get her into the car when she doesn't want to go. That being said, I can at times understand the complaints of noise pollution. But, as I pointed out, it's only going to be for a certain period of the day and not all of the time. The amount of background noise in Tokyo that one hears from cars, trains, loudspeakers, etc far out weighs any noise these kids can make.

As for the complaint being about the neighborhood changing, none of the residental streets I have seen in Japan are designed for young kids or pedestrians in general. Narrow streets, bicyclist who dart in and out or walkers who see you trying to park and yet will walk right in your way because they believe that they have the right of way while you are trying to maneuver a car into a tight parking space, is not good for anyone.

I imagine as some have said, some of those who are complaining probably have no kids, or had them and didn't do anything with them and now that they are older regret what they didn't do and as seen so many times here in Japan, everyone must be miserable if someone else is (in their opinions).

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I think these people are related to the ones who get angry about the paths for the sight-impaired or use of guide-dogs, too. Park their bikes right on the paths or shout and scream at the person with the guide dog-- and in at least one case, stab the dog. They seem to have a real mental dysfunction about what it means to live in an egalitarian society where not everyone is a furtive, angry oldster.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Who's noisy?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I live in Osaka where people drive around blasting advertisements from loud speakers all day. I can't believe there's a place in this country with a noise ordinance. Wow! As far as kids go, I hope people are prepared to forgo their retirement benefits since they don't want to tolerate the kids that would pay for them.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

There should be a place in the neighborhood to put a daycare that wouldn't inconvenience the residents. Not everyone loves kids (see the declining birth rates as proof). I think anyone would be upset if they chose to move into a quiet neighborhood, and then some business came along that caused a lot of noise and congestion. It shouldn't matter if its a daycare or a nightclub.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

I live in Osaka where people drive around blasting advertisements from loud speakers all day.

That's strange. I'm in one of the busiest parts of Osaka all day, every day, and rarely notice outside noise. Likewise back home.

Seems some foreigners are just as intolerant as the old people in the story. I'll definitely agree that some are way out of line. Unfortunately there's a lot of self-entitled whiners back home who think the world revolves around them too. My guess is they didn't become this way - they were always this way. It's what happens when idiots who are young become idiots who are old.

As far as the kids go, some accommodation should be made depending on who was there first, location etc. I like kids. But I got annoyed when the neighbour's kids started banging at 5:AM on weekends. We rang the landlady. They stopped. Some kids, and their parents, are worse than others.

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

i'll bet that all of the people complaining are bored pensioners who have nothing better to do. their bored lives consist of munching on senbei, drinking oocha and watching tv.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I bet these same people never complain about the blaring loudspeakers of the kerosene/heating oil trucks, political campaign trucks, junk collector trucks (fuyohin kaishusha), the guy repeatedly screaming "irrashyaimase" just feet from your ear at the local supermarket, or the endless stream of useless announcements at the train station.

Yes, japan is an excessively noisy country - loudspeakers blaring from vans and shops and stations, the city having announcements and time signals from hidden speakers, constant noise in shops and buildings from piped music (can't anything in Japan be accomplished without a musical accompaniment?) and yet a few miserable bastards moan about the sound of children. I live next to a primary school and don't notice any noise as such, some of the complainers need to get a grip.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

and no one complains about "MINI COMPO, REIZOUKOU, TEREBI, KAISHUU ITASHIMASUI!!!" ... sad people are just sad.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Kids play. That's life. And that NEEDS to be life in a nation that is literally being threatened by depopulation and an aging population. Those little kids in the park are going to be working their asses off to keep YOU in diapers again when you are old and feeble! Instead of these people complaining about the noise of kids, how about noise pollution generated by adults? 'Election cars', adds constantly everywhere shouting out goods, recycling collection cars, bosozoku (I hear them EVERY night for about three hours from two a.m. to 5 a.m. or so!), obachan who shout to each other on their morning walks, or old men who do the same and/or shout at kids and complain?

The ONLY complaint in this regard I have at daycare centers are around Sports Day (Athletic Day) events, where they have the kids practice outside and they play the song(s) they've chosen on loudpseakers that reverberate through the neighbourhood. THAT can be done inside a gymnasium if need be. Beyond that, the people who complain can do what I was told I should do when the guy in the apartment above me played elecrtic guitar at full volume at 3:00 a.m. -- they said I should move. For the kids playing at the park just behind my balcony, I ignore it, or enjoy the sounds of their laughter and shouts. If it's too much and I'm trying to sleep in, I put in ear plugs. Never could I imagine myself yelling at kids IN A PARK to stop playing and go away.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Sensato, your quite right, when we went to Japan all we could hear is bleeps, ding, dongs, from various warning things like foot crossings at the traffic lights, it was so loud we could hear then in our hotel 500 yards away. and this was at night time so it was hard to sleep. train stations, ding dongs bleeps, the noise was endless, are they really nessesery ? and that loud? and as for the school being taken to the courts over a breach of 45 decibels, 45 decibels is not much at all here is a list of noise levels that I've found on the internet A whisper - 15 decibels A normal conversation - 60 decibels A lawnmower - 90 decibels A car horn - 110 decibels A firecracker - 140 decibels

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Maybe that is on reason people don't make children these days. They are noisy! I'm glad that line of thought was not current before I was born.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I'm in one of the busiest parts of Osaka all day, every day, and rarely notice outside noise.

Well, good for you. Recently I stayed on the 20th floor of a luxury hotel in central Osaka, and was kept awake all night long by the traffic noises, especially by the wail of sirens (have they not heard of double glazing?). Never again.

Unfortunately there's a lot of self-entitled whiners back home who think the world revolves around them too.

That is true, but I don't pay taxes to/support local businesses "back home."

For the kids playing at the park just behind my balcony, I ignore it, or enjoy the sounds of their laughter and shouts.

The problem is, not all kids' play is full of delightful laughter. Just yesterday I was treated to the sound of some brat throwing a 30-minute long tantrum in the park right outside my window. The day before yesterday, it was a bunch of boys yelling abuse at each other over ownership of a soccer ball. Normally it wouldn't bother me, because I'm outside at work every day, but if I had to stay at home all day, yes, I'd be annoyed.

i'll bet that all of the people complaining are bored pensioners who have nothing better to do. their bored lives consist of munching on senbei, drinking oocha and watching tv.

I've read elsewhere that the majority of complainants are young women! Surely old people can simply turn off their hearing aids, if the noise bothers them so much?

Anyway, no wonder the birthrate's so low, if having and raising kids is regarded as so "meiwaku" to society.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

What a bunch of scrooges, they'll be the first to complain when their pensions are hit due to the lack of tax paying young to pay for their pensions and other welfare. Simply because others have not been able to have kids due to lack of day care centres because those very future pensioners complained about happy children playing.

If you don't like the noise, move or just put up with it. Selfish. Karma will come back and bite them when they are older.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well, first off, people do complain about noise from other sources other than day care centers. I read somewhere that the big complains police get are about noise Sometimes people are actually successful in getting rid of noise pollution. Remember advertising airplanes that buzz neighborhoods with loudspeakers blaring? They aren't around anymore. Why? People hated them so much that they probably boycotted the businesses they advertised. So the remarks that Japanese daycare center haters tolerate noise pollution is an unwarrented generalization.

Here is a question. If daycare centers promised to not use loudspeakers would they be more generally accepted?

A poster wrote: "I have this theory, just an idea, that people who dislike children have never themselves grown up." Let me amend that. People who hate children never grew up along side younger siblings. Today, many Japanese who decide to have children will stick to one child. It is likely that the only child will not want children because the have no intimate experience of younger children.

We are seeing two reverse trends in Japan one good and one disturbing. The good one is the old tolerance for cigarette smoke in public places is gone and people hate smokers. Unfortunately, Japanese society, which was child-orieented is now going in the opposite direction.

Children need daycare centers. This is a fact of working class life in Japan. i do hope that somehow daycare centers can be built where they are needed.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The people who would complain about this are the people who voted for the government that we have.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

per the article's "where does common sense lie?" It lies in zoning and planning. They can put up sound barriers for highway traffic barreling through or close to neighborhoods; they can district high-active entities away. My elementary school, high school, were each (common sense) on fitting amounts of land; distance and diffusion allowed neighborhoods and schools to co-exist.

This story should have no content about 'noisy kids'. It should point out low-rent-minded adults that do without thinking. (unless the children grow up to be city planners).

As for the noise maker loudspeakers? Apply them up the wazoo, my dear school personnel!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Tokyo has a noise ordinance?

Somebody should tell the guys in the vans with the loudspeakers on top.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

This isn't just Japanese people who have complained. At an Indian "international" school in Funabori, the school didn't have its own playground, so it sent the kids to the local park, instead. The residents around the park are Japanese and Indian (as there is a big Indian community in the Kasai area of Tokyo), and they complained about the noise.

Although they had a point, the school could have have organised itself better (which it rarely did) and communicated better with the teachers (which it rarely did). In fact, some teachers had already discussed methods of improving the pupils' safety and other park-related matters with themselves (just not with the Indian owner, as they weren't very receptive to be ideas).

In the end, after the complaints, the school decided that the kids (who, even in the kindergarten, don't actually get much playtime, as they have to practice cursive writing, rote memorisation of spelling, maths, etc all day long) could only visit the playpark ONCE a week, on a designated day. This meant that if it was sunny every day except the sanctioned park visit day, the kids couldn't go to the park. In some months, the kids never went out to play AT ALL (remember, that they didn't get much chance to play inside the school, either, as the class sizes were way too big for such a small school).

The irony was that parents were instructed by the school to dress their kids in their PE uniforms on non-related designated days, just because...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

My beef is certainly about all the noise pollution in Tokyo that has been listed above -- trucks making announcements, constant needless announcements in train stations, guys yelling non stop at trucks backing up, and so on and done. One sound I rarely hear is noisy kids. These complainers should focus on stopping real noise pollution, and leave the kids alone.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Where I live, in a radius of a a few hundred meters, there's a kindergarten, elementary school and junior high school. These places produce all kinds of sounds all year round. Coming from the playgrounds, the buildings, sports events, and I love those sounds. They don't continue into the night like the drone of traffic on busy roads. I like the sound, noise if you will, kids produce as it makes me feel there is a future.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

I guess earplugs just aren't high tech enough for these geriatric Japanese whiners?

I was going to write pretty much what Sensato said. This country is full of the most inane noises that Japanese either never complain about, or do nothing about, such as those damned bosozoku,and the sounds in and out of the train. Since being here I have been subjected to a 6 am wake up siren not 40 meters from my apartment and a rooster at the school next door that started crowing about 2 am. But for some reason the Japanese just can't stand to hear people laughing, talking, or having a good time, especially on the train, despite all that other noise. What gives??

I might suggest smack therapy, such as repeated blows from the back of my hand until they just get used to it or shut up. But I guess before that comes the suggestion of earplugs and sound proofing of their own homes at their own expense.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

This could be a new business for the Yakuza.... Daycare neighbor harassment. Omae wa nan ka kikoeru? Kikoenai deshoo! Ja kore kara damaroo!

0 ( +0 / -0 )


5 ( +6 / -1 )

So what do they say about the election trucks...and the bosozoku??...All I hear is chirping...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

if these people are so sensitive to noise, then have they are bearing the loud volume of Radios in their respective working places and the loud music in the KARAOKE, believe me it breaks the ears.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Introduce the residents to music and Bose

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Reformed B

I don't see the point of your anecdotes. Do you expect congratulations?

Just because you don't have audio-sensory overload, doesn't mean others don't and that shouldn't be seen as a weakness.

Are you reccomending a "ganbatte, Shape up, or Ship out" program?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I can't stand the noise of the old folks playing lawn golf in the park across from my house everyday. Time to lawyer up. The laughing and shouting of these guys is causing me anxiety.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'm the first person to always say that the government here needs to support women who want to have kids and work, but at the same time, I totally get the people with noise complaints. I used to live next to an elementary school here and it was atrocious, especially on weekends when they would hold a "sports" thing, more like "screaming festival," that went on for hours. I have also experienced renting a short-term apartment that had a daycare right there. The noise was horrific. A pure assault to the nerves, rendering it impossible to read, work, or listen to music in one's own home during the day. The best solution I can think of is to place daycare centers among commercial properties rather than among residential properties. These kids don't play, they scream and shout non-stop. When I walk by a local kindergarten, the screaming children easily drown out the cranked up rock music I am listening to on my ipod, using large, noise insulating over-the-ears headphones. Their noise is definitely over the legal limit, and can affect people's health.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

My English not so good but here issa possible answer for kiddy squeals. Tape. Put tape on kid mouth until quieter. Probably thirty years old. Much peace. Those that are eating lots baked beans......maybe need more tape. Have happy day. Shhhh.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

"Shizukana machizukuri ni tsutomemasu!"...persistently yelled through a loudspeaker by some local politician in my otherwise quiet suburban area...

5 ( +6 / -1 )

There are noises and there are noises. Some you get used to and some you do not. This has nothing to do with the noise as much as it has something to do with you. There are people who cannot tolerate the sound of a screaming child. As I wrote above, people who cannot stand children and their sounds are people who are likely not used to children. The sad thing is that Japan is quickly becoming a childless society. This is something that snowballs. The more unsympathetic society becomes of children there is less incentive to have children. Japan's working class needs daycare centers. They need to be built is places that are easily accessible. I say build those centers over the objections of residents. Eventually town and gown will find an equilibrium.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The noise that blares from used-goods shops' trucks, campaign vehicles of government candidates, and hate slogans from nationalists are okay, but the noise from children playing outside isn't? Talk about messed up priorities.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is hardly a Japanese-only or Tokyo-only problem. A Google search on "day care noise dispute" will show that noise disputes occur in the US. There have even been arrests made because of neighbors making threats to day care centers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These old geezers need to lighten up and accept the "white noise" of children at play. These geezers need to realize that these young people are the ones that will be paying their (Japanese equivalent) social security checks...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Perhaps the neighbors could spend some tome at the daycare centers to help out and form bonds with the little tots. They wouldn't be able to complain about them once they get to see the smiles on their faces. Plus, it's not like it happens at all hours!

1 ( +1 / -0 )


Absolutely. My home is literally five yards from a high school, and my office literally five yards from a primary school. I'm surrounded by kids singing, shouting and yelling, playing recorders and electric guitars. Either you embrace it and enjoy it or you lose your mind....

The kids are all right! : )

2 ( +2 / -0 )

When I lived in Hyogo, every morning around 6:00 a.m. a kid would practice kicking his soccer ball at a chain link fence in the park next door.

BOOM.............KShhhhhhhh..................... BOOM.........KSShhhhhhh.

I hope he'll become a great soccer player someday. I never complained about being woken up by him, even though I worked closing shifts at a restaurant. I just turned on calming music and went back to bed.

Invest in your children's future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why are Japanese people, particularly the old ones, so obsessed with silence? It's 2015 not 1715. Noise is life. Deal with it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ironically, I would welcome the noise of children playing in the park, rather than the family living above me that insists on airing out their futon between 6am-8am on Saturday & Sundays. Having lived in Tokyo for quite a while, I can deal with the noise that accompanies the surroundings. However, I'm not so thrilled when the family insists on airing their futon at the break of dawn. Bang, bang, bang rattling my ears( lol ).

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Reformed basher:

"But I got annoyed when the neighbour's kids started banging at 5:AM on weekends."

How old were your neighbour's kids? And banging that early in the morning? At least do it at night or go to special hotel.



"If someone doesn't like they noise, they should move."

But they were here first.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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