Tag Archives: Biwako

Biwako Waves

On October 12, 2015, a strong southwest wind blew across Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Waves crashed against the rocky east shore north of Chomeiji.

This spot is only a few meters from a lakeside road that runs along a steep hillside. Since it was a public holiday, many cars and motorcycles passed as I was recording and taking photographs. However, I was alone the whole time. Very few cars can park along the narrow road, and there are few trails down the steep embankment. We can hear the traffic, but it looks isolated when we face the lake.

Biwako north of Chomeiji

Biwako north of Chomeiji

Biwako north of Chomeiji

Biwako north of Chomeiji

These photos are in a new photo album,
Biwako (琵琶湖), that I started on Flickr

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).

Grass with concrete feet of pillars for Japanese shrine gate (torii), handlebar at the foot of the right pillar.

Sounds along Biwako

Sounds of Biwako Near Chomeiji

At a small corner of land we can hear boats, personal watercraft, cicadas, and sounds from a nearby small temple a few hundred meters west of Chomeiji Port.

Recorded on August 13, 2014 with a Sony M10 recorder on a bicycle handlebar bag and facing Lake Biwa.

The recording is also available on radio aporee ::: maps.

The map below shows the location of the field recording.

Calm lake with two boulders in left foreground and low mountains in the background.

Bike Ride to Hikone

On August 13, 2014, I rode my touring bike along Lake Biwa to Hikone Harbor and back via Notogawa Suisha (waterwheel) and Dainaka. It had been a while since I’d gone such a distance, but I know the route well, and it was a pleasant ride with nice weather except for a little rain late in the afternoon. I drank several liters of water, and the light rain cooled me down and gave me a little boost of energy near the end of the ride. The weather was about as good as it gets for cycling in mid August.

Along the way I stopped several times and made a couple of audio recordings that I’ll post later. At such a leisurely pace my average speed was only 19.9 KPH, and the ride took most of the day. I was passed by many younger and faster cyclists on racing bikes, but back home I still felt great after 101.11 kilometers.

Lake Biwa in Late Afternoon

On Friday, June 13, 2014, I spend much of the afternoon at Lake Biwa, about a 20-minute drive from my house (map). After some unsuccessful bass fishing, I sat along the shore with a camera on a tripod for about 45 minutes. It was cloudy and windy, and the view of Mount Hiei across the lake changed as sunbeams played on the mountain.

As I was walking to a popular fishing spot along the shore, I saw a rod standing unattended. Weeds were hanging from the line, so I thought it had been abandoned.

Fishing rod with sign, "Carp fishing. Please don't touch."

Fishing rod with sign, “Carp fishing. Please don’t touch.”

The sign says (more or less), “Carp fishing. Please don’t touch.” Sure enough, about an hour later a guy came along, reeled in his line, packed his gear, and walked away. Like everyone else I saw that afternoon, he didn’t catch anything.