Sennheiser MKH 60
Boom pole array
With only a few weeks left in Japan we wanted to revisit Mt. Osoresan one last time. Mt Osoresan translates to mean Mount Fear, and it is the second most holy place in Japan after Mt Fuji. There is a large temple complex there and many believe it is where many spirits go when they die. The mountain itself is an inactive volcano but there is still a lot of activity from hot springs, steam outlets and sulfur everywhere. The trip up the mountain supplied some good opportunities to record some more Japanese bird sounds as well as the first instances of the summer insects. There are various Crickets and Cicadas that are active during Japanese summertime, but the species vary greatly across the island. The sounds of the insects in the south of the country are completely different from those in the middle of the country and again in the north of the country.
Osoresan Volcanic Pool
Once we got to the temple complex itself I was able to record various samples of gases escaping the ground under pressure bubbly pools, and other interesting volcanic activities. Some of the sound sources were very quiet and were tricky to isolate, however most of the Japanese visitors to Osoresan are there only for the temple area, so it was possible to move away from the crowds and get some good material. Visually Osoresan looks far more appropriate when it's overcast and raining, maybe it complements the “place of the dead” feel, but having a clear sunny day was far more useful for recording quiet sounds. Osoresan is the second most holy place in Japan and many people come here to pray for the souls of young children. There are dozens of statues and little idols dedicated to children who have passed away. There are also dozens of brightly colored pinwheels that blow in the wind constantly. I guess these are to cheer the spirits of the departed children. I found the area very peaceful without being ominous. Many Japanese seem to be very uncomfortable with the place and were surprised we went there.
The contrast between the bleak gray volcanic crater and the brightly colored children s toys and pinwheels is really interesting. Osoresan is a place where people come to visit the spirits of departed children and as such they leave toys and snacks that children would love. The pinwheels are very common and add a unusual feeling to the atmosphere as they spin in the wind. It is places like Osoresan that really add to the feeling of mystery in Japan. A country with amazing modern technology living side by side with centuries old traditions and beliefs.
Stephan Schütze has been recording sounds for over twenty years. This journal logs his thoughts and experiences