Category Archives: culture

New Year 2018 Field Recording

Here is a New Year’s Eve audio recording made in rural Shiga Prefecture, Japan. We can hear temple bells, traffic, trains, and other sounds. At midnight nearby fireworks and a neighbor’s firecracker announce the new year. We can also hear the rumble of fireworks in the distance.

On December 31, 2017, I scouted the location to be sure that I could set up easily at night.

Fields in Tsuji

Fields in Tsuji, Ritto City, on December 31, 2017. At midnight I recorded temple bells and fireworks here.

The Compass app on iPhone helped me point the microphone north.

Compass on iPhone and fields in Tsuji

Compass on iPhone and fields in Tsuji, Ritto City, on December 31, 2017. At midnight I recorded temple bells and fireworks here with the microphone aimed north.

At night I set up my recording gear a little before 23:30

New Year's Eve recording outdoors

New Year’s Eve recording outdoors at midnight between fields in Tsuji, Ritto City

I rode my old commuting bike to the field and parked with the headlight aimed at the tripod location. With plenty of moonlight and a clear sky, I turned off the light before recording.

Old touring bicycle outdoors at night

Old touring bicycle outdoors at mdnight between fields in Tsuji, Ritto City

After setup and testing, I recorded for about 40 minutes. I could see very well with a small headlamp.

New Year's Eve recording outdoors

New Year’s Eve recording outdoors at mdnight between fields in Tsuji, Ritto City

Frankly, I was a little disappointed with this recording. I’d expected a nearby temple bell to be more dominant, but it did not stand out as I’d hoped. I like the variety of bells that we can hear in this recording, but next year I’ll try to record closer to a temple.

Notes

  1. Recording was done with an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder mounted on a tripod.
  2. For post-processing I used the Audacity multitrack editor.
  3. This recording is also available on radio aporee ::: maps.

Takano Shrine on a Windy December Day

On December 12, 2017, I made a field recording at Takano Shrine in Ritto City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社). See the location on radio aporee ::: maps.

Noisy aircraft, traffic, and other human sounds nearly drown out the voices of all the birds except a nearby crow.

Inner gate and worship hall (haiden, 拝殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (ema, 絵馬)

Wooden prayer tablets (ema, 絵馬) that hang near the main sanctuary clatter in the strong westerly wind.

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Wooden prayer tablets (絵馬) at the main sanctuary (本殿) of Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Winter birds

As the days become cooler, more and more birds appear in trees and bushes around the shrine.

Black-faced Bunting (Emberiza spodocephala, アオジ) in Takano, Rito City

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ) at Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Dusky thrush (Turdus eunomus, ツグミ) at Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus, エナガ) at Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Late autumn colors

A few maple trees are still showing their autumn colors.

Fall colors at Takano Park in Ritto City

Maple leaves along the entrance to Takano Shrine in Ritto City (滋賀県 栗東市 高野神社)

Technical notes

Audio was captured with an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone with a Rycote Windjammer and recorded with a Tascam DR-70D recorder. Post-processing was done with Audacity on an old Lenovo ThinkStation 20 running Fedora GNU/Linux Workstation version 27.

Yasugawa Riverside Park

Just before noon on January 7, 2017, I made a field recording in a large park along Yasugawa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan (野洲川立入河川公園). The recording was made with a small Sony PCM-M10 digital recorder mounted on a tripod near the lower end of the park. I chose this location in order to reduce traffic and train noises from bridges upstream, as well as the rumble of water at a dam downstream. I pointed the microphones southeast toward Mikamiyama.

We can hear the rumble of a nearby dam, traffic, crows, and kids playing in the distance. These sounds are overwhelmed by a recorded public address message broadcast from speakers on a small building on the embankment above the park. The recorded message asks people to obey park rules: no golf, RC cars or aircraft, fireworks, unleashed dogs, fires, littering, or other activities that may disturb people. The same loud recorded message dominates the sonic environment of the park once every hour.

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking with the microphones southeast toward Mikamiyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking with the microphones southeast toward Mikamiyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama

I often visit this park to look for birds. Egrets, herons, cormorants, and ducks can be found in the river both above and below the dam, and many small birds live in the vegetation along the riverbank.

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking downstream to the north

Yasugawa Riverside Park (野洲川立入河川公園), lower end just upstream from the dam in Moriyama, looking downstream to the north

On January 7th, as I was recording, I walked upstream and saw a few birds.

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus,  ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Daurian redstart male (Phoenicurus auroreus, ジョウビタキ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Dusky thrush (ツグミ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Dusky thrush (ツグミ) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Oriental Greenfinch (Chloris sinica, カワラヒワ, 河原鶸) along Yasugawa upstream from the dam in Moriyama

Activity in this park varies a lot, depending on the season, the weather, and the day of the week. But whatever they are doing, everyone in the park hears the same loud recorded message once every hour.

New Year 2017 Temple Bells and Fireworks

This recording is also on radio aporee ::: maps.

On New Year’s Eve I wanted to record temple bells and fireworks along with other rural sounds from a nearby location with little traffic. I thought one of the Yasugawa riverside parks might be far enough away from major roads but still close to home.

There are no lights near this location and no place to park a car at night. I had to go by bicycle, so I practiced in daylight on December 31st.

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

In daylight I mounted a small audio recorder on a light tripod. That practice helped me when I mounted an Audio-Technica BP4025 stereo microphone and a Tascam DR-70D recorder on the same tripod late at night in the dark.

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

At night I recorded from at about 23:30 on December 31st until about 00:10 on January 1, 2017. As I was recording, I sat on a park bench with a nice view of Mikamiyama.

Public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

View of Mikamiyama from the public park along Yasugawa riverbank upstream from Shinkansen bridge in Moriyama City

The audio recording sounds pretty noisy, but that’s what it’s like in this suburban area with so many people and so much activity. We become so accustomed to noise that we just filter it out. Maybe that’s why they announce the year with fireworks. Those midnight explosions are hard to ignore.

Concrete picnic table and stools in a wooded park

Hatonomori Park in Summer

Hatonomori Park in Moriyama City (守山市の鳩の森公園) is a wooded public park with a few concrete picnic tables, a play area for children, and a small stream on two sides. The park covers 1.86 hectares.

On some weekday mornings local people, mostly seniors, gather to play ground golf. On hot summer days the sounds of ground golf compete with the buzzing of cicadas, murmers of turtle doves, and traffic on a nearby street.

This recording was made in Hatonomori Park, Moriyama City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan at about 10 a.m. on August 1, 2016. Recording was done with a Sony PCM-M10 recorder. Hear the same recording while seeing the map location on radio aporee maps.

Sony PCM-M10 recorder

Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園)

Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園)

Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園)

Hatonomori Park is full of cicadas in summer. Other flying creatures, such as butterflies and birds, hide when people are active in the park, but cicadas keep singing.

Cicada (セミ)

Cicada (セミ)

After the ground golf players leave the park, wild creatures reappear. The park has many beetles and other insects, including several species of butterflies.

Hestina persimilis japonica (ゴマダラチョウ) butterfly

Old World swallowtail butterfly (アゲハ)

Old World swallowtail butterfly (アゲハ)

Old World swallowtail butterfly (アゲハ)

We can see many species of birds in the park, and sometimes we can hear them. One of the nicest sounds in the park is the murmer of oriental turtle doves.

Oriental turtle-doves (キジバト)

Oriental turtle-doves (キジバト)

Two ponds hold carp and other fish. Ducks swim in the ponds and a small stream in winter and spring. In the summer egrets and herons sometimes appear. One grey heron sometimes perches on the foot bridge over the lower pond.

Grey heron (アオサギ)

Grey heron (アオサギ)

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that several species of small birds remain in the park in summer.

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Long-tailed tit (エナガ)

Japanese tit (シジュウカラ)

Japanese pygmy woodpecker (コゲラ)

Kingfisher (川蝉, カワセミ)

I often see two brown-eared bulbuls. Recently I discovered that they catch and eat cicadas. When they eat, they first bite off the wings. As they eat, they toss the insect. Finally, an only empty shell remains.

Brown-eared bulbul (ヒヨドリ)

Brown-eared bulbul (ヒヨドリ)

Brown-eared bulbul (ヒヨドリ)

Last winter a bird photographer told me about Hatonomori Park, which is about 25 minutes from my home by bicycle. It’s a nice ride, mostly along the Yasugawa riverbank, and the park is a peaceful place to watch birds.

Hatonomori Park (鳩の森公園)