Canton (song)

"Canton" is an instrumental song by English new wave band Japan. It was originally released on the album Tin Drum in 1981, and was then released as the only single from the live album Oil on Canvas in May 1983. It peaked at number 42 on the UK Singles Chart.[3]

Song by Japan
from the album Tin Drum
Released13 November 1981 (1981-11-13)
Recorded24–28 June 1981[1]
Japan Canton.jpg
Single by Japan
from the album Oil on Canvas
B-side"Visions of China"
Released21 May 1983 (1983-05-21)
RecordedNovember 1982
VenueHammersmith Odeon, London
  • 4:05 (7" version)
  • 5:36 (12" and album version)
  • David Sylvian
  • Steve Jansen
Japan singles chronology
"All Tomorrow's Parties"

Original recordingEdit

"Canton" was the first song recorded for Japan's album Tin Drum, along with "Talking Drum" and David Sylvian said the two songs "worked so well we’d arrange the rest of the album around the same ideas. Difficulty with recording arose when Mick Karn had to rub the aluminium neck of his Travis Bean bass guitar quite frantically and the heat generated "was enough to bend the metal out of pitch". Because of this, the guitar had to be cooled down mid-recording and to get around this problem, Karn switched to a local bass manufacture Wal, "which worked perfectly on the first take". The band also found under some tarpaulin an instrument made of bamboo that was several feet in height and width and sound was "produced by rattling peas within the bamboo" and these "duplicate the piece’s main melody".[1]


Reviewing the single for Record Mirror, Simon Hills wrote "Sounds like the theme music to The Secret Lovers of Chairman Mao", with "more oriental, and totally glib, 'art' on the flip side with 'Visions Of China' in which the group imagine all the royalties they could get by selling a record to the country with the biggest population".[4]

Track listingsEdit


  1. "Canton" – 4:05
  2. "Visions of China" – 3:45


  1. "Canton" – 5:36
  2. "Visions of China" – 3:45



Chart (1983) Peak
UK Singles (OCC)[3] 42


  1. ^ a b anthonyreynoldswork (2018-09-05). "Excerpt from Japan : A Foreign Place. Chapter 8 : "The Tin Drum."". anthonyreynoldswork. Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  2. ^ "Canton / Visions of China by Japan". Retrieved 2020-12-10.
  3. ^ a b "Japan: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  4. ^ "Singles". Record Mirror: 20. 21 May 1983. Retrieved 10 December 2020 – via CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)