Tazawako, Akita, Japan
Sennheiser MKH 60
boom pole array
This is the first full entry in the recording journal. The previous entries are summaries of past recording sessions and some of the notable aspects of those sessions. The previous recording sessions occurred some time ago and as a result most of the information is drawn from memory so I’m not going to swear to the accuracy, there may however be some useful information for some people.
This entry actually covers a few days over what is called Golden Week in Japan. This is a national holiday over the course of a week where most of the country goes somewhere for one of their few vacations. We decided to go to Lake Tazawa in Akita prefecture as we had been there briefly in the past and wanted to visit it again. We were really lucky and had 4 days of stunning weather. I had taken all my gear with me specifically to record anything of interest while we were there. We were staying in a camping ground in a log cabin about 50 meters from the lake and over the course of the week we did a bunch of stuff.
We took a tour in a smallish tourist boat across the lake. (held maybe 50 people) One of the really unusual things about the Japanese is they really don’t talk very much in public, even when they are on holiday. Even when they are in a boat on a tour looking at lots of interesting sites they all just stand quietly. This allowed me to hold the R09 in the boat as it travelled across the lake and get beautifully clean recordings of the boat at all the different speeds it was moving. I could hold the R09 over the back near the engines, or over the sides to record the water movement, or inside the cabin area to get the general sound of the boats interior. In Australia all I would be able to record in these circumstances would be screaming kids and chatting adults so it was a great opportunity.
The next day we decided to hire some bikes and ride around the lake. It was only about 10 km so it was not going to be a difficult ride. As we rode around I held the R09 behind me to screen it from wind noise and record some of the bike movement. I did not have a wind jammer for the R09 at this stage so it didn’t really work very well. Later in the afternoon when we returned to the camp site I grabbed the Zoom on the pole and rode around the car park recording. This worked a lot better as the Sennheiser mic is better protected from wind noise. I got some good material of pedalling rolling and breaking on the bike.
That evening I walked down to the lake after dark. There were no people around and almost no traffic on the roads at all. This allowed me to get some good samples of the frogs right next to the lake. I always love recording nature sounds when I can get them cleanly. I needed to approach the frogs very slowly through the marsh area, treading carefully not to make any loud footfalls or break anything. Once I was in position I stood completely still for nearly ten minutes while I recorded. I find this a lot easier than it sounds because I find myself mesmerized by the sounds I am capturing, so I just relax, stand and listen. The better the circumstances for recording (i.e. not background noise) the easier I find it to stand still.
Tazawako Japan Sunset
Apart from the boat, bike and frogs I grabbed some nice bird sounds and the very squeaky sound of a pedal boat Anna and I hired to potter round the lake in. These were all pretty standard recordings with nothing very unusual in the recording process. This trip marked the first instance where I had really started work on gathering material specifically for the library. I had previously started to catalogue my archives of material, but I had not formally started adding to it. From here on things are going to get interesting.
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Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences