New Year 2014 Temple Bells

Temple bells in Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan, ring in the New Year 2014 just before and after midnight. This recording was made along a path between fields northeast of Takano Shrine. The location can be seen on radio aporee ::: maps ::: Tsuji.

Field in Tsuji, Ritto City

I mounted the recorder and stereo microphone on a camera tripod. After recording began, I left the headphones on the tripod and moved away. The recording volume was set at Mic Sense High, Level about 5 on my Olympus LS-100 recorder. A few drops of rain fell, but not enough to hurt anything.

Recording New Year 2014 Temple Bells

The bells are quiet at these distances, and we can hear the rumble of traffic, a few trains, etc. This location is surrounded by roads, and we can hear trains on three railroads. If you listen with headphones at high volume, reduce the level at about 05:30. At midnight (05:41) a few fireworks appeared over Yasu City to the north, and one bird called out as it flew overhead (08:15).

Japan is a country of great sonic contrasts. Everywhere in Ritto we hear traffic and other human activity, but, except for vendors in small trucks, residential neighborhoods are quiet. On the other hand, many social and cultural events are punctuated by very loud percussive sounds. People chant, strike bells, pound on drums, set off fire crackers, enjoy large fireworks displays, pound rice with large mallets, etc. The contrasts between background ambient sounds and explosive sounds such as fireworks make field recording a challenge. In this recording I left the relative sound levels as they were. In post-processing. I trimmed the original recording to ten minutes and raised overall level to -0.2dB. As it was in the field, quiet sounds are difficult to hear while fireworks are overwhelming.

Most old families live near temples in their neighborhoods, which are clustered along narrow roads. They can hear their local temple bells clearly. For example, last year I made recorded the bell that we hear near the center of the sound field on this recording. At that time I was in a small parking lot about 20 meters from the bell as neighborhood adults and children took turns ringing it.

Whichever recording you prefer, Happy New Year from Japan!

Published by Greg Peterson

Professor Emeritus, Kyoto Notre Dame University (1977-2020). Since 1980 I have lived in Shiga Prefecture, Japan, where I enjoy outdoor activities, especially photography, hiking, and cycling.

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  1. Hi Greg,
    We were missing the sound of the New Year’s Bells as we celebrated in Regina. I did a search for a recording and was surprised to find one created by someone I recognized! Thank you for sharing this. I hope all is well in Notre Dame. Please extend a my wishes for a wonderful and peaceful New Year to your family and professor Yoshino.

    1. Hi Andre!

      Long time, no see! I’m glad you like the recording, although the 2013 one (at the bottom of the post) is more like “NHK” style.

      At Notre Dame we’ll have a new building in April. I’ll retire from full-time service on March 31st, but I’ll continue to teach part time. With more free time I’m hoping to do more recording, photography, etc. in the Japanese countryside so I do more cross-cultural sharing and spend less time doing paperwork and attending meetings.

      Yoshino-sensei is fine. With two other teachers she and I share a required course in “Basic Studies” for freshmen. We teach very basic stuff mostly on how to do college-level work and then introduce our four areas of concentration: English language education, linguistics, literature (Yoshino), and communication (Peterson).

      Thanks for contacting me, and best wishes for a happy 2014.

      – Greg

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