White butterfly with wings up to right, facing left on a flower with white petals and large yellow center.

Butterflies in Late June

June and early July is Rainy Season in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Many days are gloomy, but now and then the sun appears. The countryside is very green, with rice plants growing in nearby fields and wild vegetation everywhere. Many kinds of insects and spiders appear.

This June I often went outdoors with a macro lens and took photographs to add to my Flickr album Bugs and other small creatures. Along with bees, beetles, flies, and spiders, I found five species of butterflies.

Common copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Common copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Common copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Common copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaeas, ベニシジミ)

Silver-studded blue butterfly (Plebejus argus, ヒメシジミ)

Silver-studded blue butterfly (Plebejus argus, ヒメシジミ)

Silver-studded blue butterfly (Plebejus argus, ヒメシジミ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ)

Eastern pale clouded yellow butterfly (Colias erate poliographys,モンキチョウ)

Gray-veined white butterfly (Pieris melete, スジグロシロチョウ)

Gray-veined white butterfly (Pieris melete, スジグロシロチョウ)

Gray-veined white butterfly (Pieris melete, スジグロシロチョウ)

Gray-veined white butterfly (Pieris melete, スジグロシロチョウ)

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハ)

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハ)

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハ)

Asian swallowtail butterfly (Papilio xuthus, アゲハ)

Technical note

All of these photographs were taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II camera and an Olympus M. Zuiko 60mm f2.8 macro lens.

Notogawa Suisha (large waterwheel)

Notogawa Suisha Video

Notogawa Suisha is an old waterwheel (actually two waterwheels) in Higashi-Omi, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. The site includes a small park, a little museum, and a boat rental facility. This quiet park, about 30 kilometers from my home, is one of my favorite places.

Notogawa Suisha (small waterwheel)

Notogawa Suisha (small waterwheel)

Video was recorded with an Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. Audio was recorded in the camera with input from an Audio Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder. Music, “Love Story (piano),” is by Sławomir Zając. I edited the video with OpenShot on a Lenovo ThinkStation 20 running Fedora GNU/Linux.

You can hear the large waterwheel and see the location on a map in my previous post, “Sounds of Notogawa Suisha.”

Lake from about 15 meters above on shoreline, framed by tree branches and leaves, fog-covered mountains across the lake, audio recorder and microphone on a tripod in the foreground on the right.

Sounds of Aircraft and a Boat at Lake Biwa

A small airplane and a fishing boat recorded from the shore of Lake Biwa along Shiga Route 25 in Okishima-cho, Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan (map).

We can hear gentle waves on the nearby shore, but internal combustion engines dominate this otherwise quiet environment. Other human sounds include a jet aircraft high overhead and two cars that pass along the road just a few meters behind the microphone.

On June 8, 2015, the morning I made this field recording, I had intended to record the calls of birds in a quiet location along the shore of Lake Biwa. The shoreline between Chomeiji and People’s Holiday Village is one of the few places along the lake that see little car traffic and few personal watercraft, especially on weekdays. The main difficulty is parking. There are only a few wide spots to park a car along along the road. At the first place I stopped I could hear a Japanese bush warbler and other small birds, but men were working nearby. At a few other locations I could not hear any birds.

Side view of an audio recorder and microphone on a tripod in front of a large tree and some bushes.

Field recording at Biwako along Shiga Route 25 in Okishima-cho, Omihachiman City.

When I arrived at the spot where I recorded, I heard one Japanese bush warbler. Hoping the the bird would continue to call, I set up my recording equipment facing the mountain along the road. The bird did not call again, but I heard a fishing boat on the lake. Just after I turned the microphone toward the lake and began to record, aircraft and boat engines overwhelmed the delicate sounds of waves hitting the shore below my location.

My visual and auditory experiences in rural Japan are so incongruous that often I feel betrayed by my eyes. Places that appear peaceful and quiet may suddenly be dominated by the sounds of machinery that people use for work or leisure activities. It is easy to understand why rural Japan is the scene of so many beautiful photographs and so few field recordings. Peaceful soundscapes are extremely difficult to find.

Recorded with an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder on June 8, 2015. You can see the map location and hear the first three minutes of the audio on radio aporee maps (Okishimacho, Omihachiman, Shiga Prefecture 523-0801, Japan).

Yasugawa Ohashi from Mikami, Yasu City

Carp in Yasugawa

On Sunday, April 19, 2015, carp were spawning in shallow water in the north fork of Yasugawa just above the Japan Route 8 bridge (Yasugawa Ohashi). I made some video clips of the scene and produced short movie.

The location can seen on the map below. The satellite image is quite old. The main riverbed has moved southwest, but the small north fork remains the same.

I was surprised to see carp spawning this early, but I’m glad that I got a chance to see them. I rarely to to the north bank of the river. Usually I carry my camera along the south side the river in Ritto City, which we can see in the photo above and in the closing scene of the video. On Sunday I just happened to be in an interesting place with my camera a and small tripod.

Dirt road between bamboo trees, mountain bike and rucksack along bamboo on the right side,

Audio Recording in a Bamboo Grove: Japanese Bush Warbler, Pheasant, and Crows

On Sunday, April 19, 2015, I took a mid-afternoon mountain bike ride along the north side of Yasugawa from the Japan Route 8 bridge up to the Meishin Expressway. Near the river an unused dirt road runs through a bamboo grove before it becomes a single path just downriver from the Meishin Expressway. It had rained in the morning, the sky was overcast, and there was little wind.

In the bamboo grove I recorded a Japanese bush warbler (uguisu, 鶯), a pheasant (kiji, キジ), and some crows (karasu, カラス). With no motor vehicles on that road and no farm machinery in nearby fields, it was relatively quiet. I applied a high-pass filter to reduce the rumble of traffic on the Meishin Expressway and Japan Route 1 just across the river. A ten-minute portion of the recording is on SoundCloud.

The same recording can be heard at radio aporee ::: maps – Minamizakura, Yasu City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. The satellite view on Google Maps is also several years old, but this location looks about the same as it did when the images were made.

While the recorder was running, I quietly walked back along the road. At the edge of the bamboo on the north side a few wild Japanese irises were blooming.

Japanese iris, ハナショウブ(花菖蒲、Iris ensata var. ensata)

Later I recorded another Japanese bush warbler at the upriver end of the grove. The crows were quieter, but nearby traffic on the Meishin Expressway was pretty noisy. As I was recording, I heard an off-road motorcycle along the river.

Off-road motorcycle along Yasugawa

That single motorcycle dominated the soundscape and persuaded me to quit recording and just enjoy my bike ride.