Sonic Japan: Sounds of silence

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Ohara Temple Nightinggale Floor
This temple's hallway utilises pre modern sonic security systems to alert residents to intruders (2019/05/17)
More:Kyoto
Water features and conversation
One of the other famous features of the Ryoanji Temple is this stone water basin. The sound of water running is thought to be soothing to the mind of soul. How does this sound to you? (2019/05/16)
More:Kyoto
The sound of gardening in a garden
The visual scene is serene... except for the sound of a power saw in the distance! (2019/05/16)
More:Kyoto

Latest posts

Premodern Sonic Security Systems: the Nightingale Floor

Wed Nov 13 2019 by Carolyn Stevens

This a recording of a temple located in Ohara, just outside Kyoto, named Sanzenin. An important site for the Tendai school of Buddhism, this large complex houses many artistic and religious treasures. One of the compound buildings featured a uguisubari (translated as ‘nightingale floor’). This kind of flooring was...>>

Genkoan and the bloody footprints

Tue Jan 31 2017 by Tamara Kohn

This temple, founded in the 14th century, sits high in the hills in northwest Kyoto. Since the late 17th century it has belonged to the Sōtō School of Zen. It is famous for its main hall (hondo) where there are two windows – one perfectly round and another...>>

Night time sounds in Tokyo

Fri Sep 02 2016 by Carolyn Stevens

Many of the recordings in this repository were taken during the more 'sociable' hours of 9 am to about 10 pm, as the ethnographers moved through a 'normal' schedule in Japan. On my recent trip, however, I explicitly tried to take recordings outside of business hours to provide contrast to...>>

Thinking about recordings in the wind

Fri Jun 03 2016 by Tamara Kohn

This is a reflection on a problem that technology brings to the study of sound. The technology itself is sounded. Here is a wonderful example of this. The pine and the sounds of the windy landscape speak to the stories we've already told here about the...>>

Sweeping Silence

Fri Apr 01 2016 by Tamara Kohn

Four of us awoke at 5:30am, before dawn, and silently carried brooms from the dojo grounds down the drive and over the road to the Aiki Shrine. Sweeping the large 'dry' gravel garden in front of the shrine or the leaves under the trees is part of any live-in student's...>>

南相馬奇跡の松 The Lone Pine Tree in a Post Disaster Soundscape in Minamisoma

Tue May 27 2014 by Carolyn Stevens and Tomohiro Matsuoka
Spontaneous recordings of disasters are often taken by accident, or by security cameras and recorders.   The CIs of this project have experienced many earthquakes in Japan, but to date have not had recorders in hand.>>

岩間の合氣神社で掻く音 Raking the Aiki Shrine in Iwama

Fri May 23 2014 by Tamara Kohn
The live-in students at Iwama dojo wake at 5am every morning in the dark and very quietly get dressed, grab narrow-pronged bamboo rakes known as kumade (pictured above) and walk in silence from the dojo on the gravel driveway to the small road and the Shrine area on the other side. You hear the sound of our footsteps in the first recording - loud crunching noises that pierce the quiet pre-dawn.>>