Natural Sounds of Japan
A Journey Through The Islands And Seasons

Following the successful Natural Sounds of Costa Rica, Andrew Roth presents the exploration of a second distinctive collection of soundscapes. The four main islands of Japan offer an abundance of interesting flora, fauna, and beyond, revealing a wide ranging new palette of sounds and Natural Sounds of Japan envelops the listener with these fascinating environments.

As with any country around the world, there are distinctive characteristics and moods that spring forth from the earth--but, Japan adds a new dimension to normal environmental recording. There is the simple challenge of finding quiet, unspoiled places in the most industrialized and technologically sophisticated country on the planet. And, there is the even more profound dilemma of how to integrate or keep separate a culture (and its man-made sounds), which, at least historically, has been inseparable from what we call the "natural world."

"After recording in Costa Rica I became excited at the thought of tying in the cultural heritage of a country with its natural sounds" explains Andrew. "It is a country where a wellspring of meaning can come from something as simple as a cricket chirp or the call of a spring bird. Just mentioning one of these sounds in a poem or presenting the creatures that make them in a painting can evoke feelings of joy, melancholy, or humor. I wanted to add a soundtrack to the ink scrolls of Sesshu Toyo and the poems of Matsuo Basho, and also suggest the natural world's inspiration for many of the country's instruments and other man-made devices."

"Apart from presenting objects or creatures, many of the tracks contained within also attempt to express unique cultural concepts. Mono no aware is a Japanese term used to describe the awareness of mujo, or the transience of things and a bittersweet sadness at their passing. It is a central aesthetic in both historic and modern Japan. Richard Hooker describes it as 'the capacity to experience the objective world in a direct and unmediated fashion, to understand sympathetically the objects and the natural world around one without resorting to language or other mediators.' It is my sincere hope that by listening to these recordings you may better understand this concept through experience rather than description."

Those sounds which are famous, yet little known outside of Japan, have been recorded, including the cracklings and moanings of the sea Ice of Hokkaido, as well as the eerie singing of sand along the coast of Kyoto. Both are on the cultural registry of the "100 most famous sounds" of the nation.

Armed with Basho's famous travel journal The Narrow Road to the Deep North, a backcountry hiking guide to the country, and an atlas of the 27 national parks, Andrew Roth, Naoki Nakamichi, and Yasu Yamada were able to, without causing too much personal injury to themselves, explore the four islands, from Kyushu to Hokkaido, with a side trip to the sub-tropical Amami-Oshima, over the course of several months. While every bird, animal, and geologic sound was meticulously gathered.

The goal, as before, was to eventually have a series of distinct tracks which in some way tell a story--always interesting, and never repetitive. Hopefully they will take you on a journey that, while educational and entertaining, will leave even the most cynical listener wanting more. "Natural Sounds of Japan" is as unique and original an environmental soundscape recording as has ever been released. Prepare for a sonic journey to another fascinating part of our world.


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