Sonic Japan: Sounds of Nara

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Multicultural Todaiji
This recording was taken at Todaiji in Nara, one of the most famous Buddhist temples in Japan. It houses a Daibutsu (large sculpture of the Buddha). Todaiji as a temple was established in the early 700s, though the structure we see today dates back to the 1700s as the structure has been rebuilt several times. The wooden sculpture dates back to the mid 700s. It is an iconic place in Japanese religious history, and thus tourists from around East and South East Asia visit the site to pay their respects. Many Chinese and Thai visitors were praying at the Daibutsu along with Japanese and European visitors. In particular, Thai tourists paid the most formal respects to the Daibutsu, by making longer offerings and silent prayers, but other tourists (Japanese, Chinese, German, Australian and so on) were more merry in their visit. You can hear the visitors chat with each other, and the zip of a bag as a supplicant reaches into her purse to grab a coin. (2015/04/06)
Sonic Tourism at Himuro Shrine
Stevens and Hosokawa visited the Himuro Shrine in Nara, an ancient city about an hour outside Kyoto. This shrine was established in 710. At this shrine, there was a small playback device at the place of offering. Supplicants put coins in the box at the shrine entrance to make wishes for good health, fortune or other prayers. Next to the donation box was a small recording playback device, donated by an audio speaker company (credited with a small sign). If the supplicant put a few more coins in the device, they could hear gagaku (ancient court music) playing through these speakers. The ancient sounds were thought to enhance the experience of praying at this historic shrine. You can hear Prof. Hosokawa drop in the coins at the start of the recording, and then while waiting, muse out loud 'Nothing's coming out!' As soon as he utters this sentence, however, the recording begins. The supplicant is taken back to Nara's ancient period with this sound. Through the playback you can hear other tourists come and go, and put money in the donation box as the music plays. Hosokawa and Stevens found this shrine's feature unusual and interesting, dubbing it 'sonic tourism'. Sonic tourism enhances the physical experience of being present in a historic setting. (2015/04/06)
Buddhist chanting
Chanting buddhist sutras at Todaiji (2013/07/23)