from a few miles away?? If so, then you live in Japan.
Once the heat of the summer subsides, the sounds of the singing sweet potato trucks hit the streets of Tokyo. When these traveling vendors begin to blare their "yakiimo (roasted sweet potato) song," this signifies the change in seasons even moreso than the autumnal equinox itself. The equinox, after all, doesn't have a megaphone.
Below is my neighborhood sweet potato vendor, waving to me yesterday morning outside of my apartment, a few moments before I purchased a roasted sweet potato.
The typical gaijin in Japan goes through three general stages of culture shock with respect to the 'singing potato phenomenon.' At first, this potato truck is the funniest thing you've ever seen in your life and you can't stop talking about how delightfully bizarre it all is. You even sing the yakiimo song in random intervals on the Karaoke mike, which your friends find hilarious.
But just as quickly, the excitement can turn into rage. At this stage, you realize that the yakiimo song it not so much melodic as it is a blaring chant that would be considered noise pollution almost anywhere else in the world. If these potato trucks were to ever grace the streets of your home city, people would throw rocks at them or worse. Personally, I wanted to throw large blunt objects at the trucks for waking me up during my long afternoon naps (I was working nights by that stage, after all). The Japanese, on the other hand, are rather patient people. I have to give them that.
Then, finally, there comes the third and final phase: potato acceptance. For me, this is to admit that roasted sweet potatoes taste quite good (although it is arguable whether this merits a megaphone), and to acknowledge that, should I choose to stay out all night and sleep during the afternoons in Autumn, a singing potato truck is likely to punish me for it.