While finishing (& the release) of a project is intensely satisfying, one of the next best feelings is the journey home after a great day capturing new material.
Today was one of those days
My first mission was always going to involve some luck: I wanted to revisit Taya Caves, for the eventual CAVE AMBIENCES Library, with my 788T recorder and quad mics. The first worry I had was will they let a gaijin carrying about 15kg of gear in two bags, into the caves? This is a site of huge historical significance and if the wrong person was working in the ticket booth I would not be doing any recording…
Thankfully a lovely woman was working this morning, who seemed very surprised to see a gaijin visiting the caves, and even more surprised to learn I was from New Zealand, nevermind that it was my third time visiting the caves.
My second worry was other people – I know these caves are so resonant that if one other person is in there with you, then the chances of recording clean sound are near impossible. When I walked into the carpark entrance a guy on a scooter was just leaving, and after buying my entrance ticket I noticed an elderly couple who looked like (maybe) they had just finished their visit to the cave…
So I walked in the entrance and in to the first beautiful location, far enough in that the external world disappeared and I was left with the cool air and beautiful melodic drips of a cave carved by hand by monks… except I also heard voices…. hmmmm….
I remembered that the prescribed route through the caves is a giant loop, so I waited quietly and slowly detected that one of the voices was a small child and if there is one thing I know to be true, it is that I have more patience than a small child. So I set up my mics and waited….
Slowly the voices grew quieter until they disappeared – I hit record and walked 100m around some corners, up the tunnel (so my breathing isn’t a feature of a the recordings)
I dont know if other recordists do this (feel free to comment, lurkers!) but when recording I often count. A thousand and one. A thousand and two. I was hoping for a bare minimum of 3 uninterrupted minutes. My spirits lifted when I reached four minutes… I got distracted in other thoughts…. I started counting again… I got to five thousand and one… returned to the recorder. 19 minutes? WOW! Great!!! This was one of the most melodic cave drips I’ve heard, super happy that the 10 minutes I thought I was counting was actually 19 minutes of uninterrupted recording!
I quickly scouted ahead, checking what else was worth as significant, and then decided to record a wider ie more distant perspective of the same melodic drips. Relocate, hit record, walk up the cave & start counting… six thousand and one… six thousand and two…. return to recorder, 11 minutes!?! OK there is some time dilation happening here…. interesting…
Moving on…. to location 3
The beautiful sound of a small distant waterfall reverbating in this chamber stopped me in my tracks.
Set up the mics, hit record. Start counting… relocate close to the source:
While I left the recorder rolling I stealthily scouted ahead & verified this was the last recording location, so eventually returned and packed up my gear and exited the cave, somewhat altered by the experience of being underground in cool damp air for 2 hours…
While I had been inside the caves, the staff at the ticket office had changed and the young shaven head monk jumped slightly when I suddenly walked past ‘arigatou gozimasu’
I have a theory of local travel, especially when lugging gear: catch a taxi to the location, walk back. This method means you arrive at a location fresh & full of energy, and can do your best work. Taya caves are about a 30 minute walk from Ofuna Station, so while you could walk there, you will arrive hot, sweaty & a little tired already.
But that taxi ride to the location also gives you a chance to get a feel for the lay of the land. How far & where do you need to walk on the way back? What opportunities exist, to sidetrack away from busy roads…
To get away from a busy road I followed this walking/cycling track through paddocks where the remnants of a rice harvest were still evident…
and what I suspect are lotus plants?
I love lotus root salads, and while I know lotus flowers usually grow in water, lotus root that is eaten maybe grows in soil? If so I want to grow some….
Paddocks were also growing… brutalist concrete sculptures?
Next time I visit Taya Caves I suspect a new train line or motorway will run through these paddocks… further on I met a partially formed support, and instantly wanted to grab a sledgehammer & climb up there & hit the reinforcing bars to see how they were tuned..
A friend & HISSandaROAR supporter got in touch, enquiring if there was any chance of me recording ‘small town Japan’ for an upcoming doco he was due to start, so rather than walk directly back to the station & back to Tokyo, I walked through the back streets of Ofuna, stopping to record some lovely quiet ambiences
Usually harsh mid day light is dreadful for photos, but I loved the surreally large shadows being cast here:
One of the ambiences I tried to record in Kyoto, but was thwarted was the birds in a bamboo forest. In Kyoto I recorded for 15 minutes and 12+ minutes had distant helicopter all over them, so I considered that a lost opportunity. But while wandering through these back streets I heard those same birds in the distance, so i followed my ears
These birds were quite screechy, and while there was a bit of wind I didnt capture any great bamboo creaks or knocking – but I did capture those birds!
On the way to Ofuna this morning the train passed through Yokohama, and I read how the Yokohama station is “the fifth busiest in the world as of 2013, serving 760 million passengers a year” so I figured it was worth a stop on the way home…
I love how Japanese freeways have these diffusers attached – it really does soften the direct sound of cars passing, resulting in a dense thrum of traffic….
I walked down & along the waterfront, eventually ending up at this lovely park. Set up the mics and recorded for 15 minutes before a mother & two small kids arrived & set to blowing bubbles which drifted past me in the afternoon sun….
Today = 10.6GB of sound in quad
11.2GB of video & photos
It was a great day!
Me & my tired legs will sleep well tonight