A Casual Sound Walk at Kawazu Seven Waterfalls in Izu

During my stay in Izu, I made time for the stunning Kawazu Seven Waterfalls (河津七滝). Located in the mountains above the onsen town Kawazu, the site was of natural scenic beauty. But this time it was more than a feast for the eyes; it was also one for the ears. I was taking a soundwalk along the 1 km long trail past the waterfalls.

A soundwalk is a walk one takes focusing on the sounds of the surroundings. As different from what we usually do, in a soundwalk we pay more attention to what we hear, experiencing the environment through sounds rather than sight. And how a scene sounds like is known as a soundscape. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) also released standards on the measurement and management of soundscape. So this time, I was feeling the soundscape of the Kawazu Seven Waterfalls with what I heard. It was a nice and relaxing walk. When I closed my eyes and listened: it was a symphony of water splashing, gurgling, rushing, gliding through and hurtling against rocks.

Along the trail, we also came across statues from the story of The Izu Dancer by Kawabata Yasunari, Japanese sculptures, a suspension bridge… All made pleasant additions to the walk. If you visit Izu, the Kawazu Seven Waterfalls is a must-go!



平日我們習慣以視覺來感受外界,甚少依賴聽覺來感受,但視象與聲音都是組成我們記憶和感覺的部分,很難分割開來,聲音漫步讓我們專注聆聽周圍,以聲音感受環境。透過聲音來感受和描述的環境被稱為聲景(Soundscape),國際標準化組織(International Organization for Standardization)近年亦為量度和管理聲景訂立國際標準,可見聲景研究和設計漸趨重要。這次七滝中連接瀑布與瀑布間的小徑是很好的聲音步行路線,沿途有不同特色的聲景。把七滝風光盡收眼底,閉起眼,又是另一番感受︰一場水流的交響樂遠遠近近響起,是水或濺起,或潺潺流動,或穿過或激打石頭的聲音……


Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

This says a lot about people’s subjective perceptions. And it doesn’t only happen in scenic beauty, but also in music, food, smell and so on. Everyone is different and they have their own takes on good food and good music. My “sweet” is different from your “sweet” and my “soft” may be a bit “rough” to you. Is there a way to transfer subjective feelings directly to others apart from communicating in words?

I was making a presentation in US with a theme crafted with the above illustration.  In addition to using questionnaire and a rating system, I think it is important to allow the others to be immersed in the same environment in acquiring the specific information you need. My speech is to introduce a mobile app that enables users to create their own ideal soundscapes while experimenting with different sources of sound. This differs from the traditional approach of surveying the public through a soundwalk. Can a survey transfer to the mind of the soundscape designer the respondent’s specific ideas of “a good soundscape”, “vague music” and “pleasant experience”? The designers with their own personal perceptions will read the words in their own ways. After all they are reading words rather than minds.

I related the idea of soundscape designing to creating recipes and making food. I put French fries in my presentation not only to draw attention, but also to explain the idea of subjectivity. The icon of fries is a feature in the app too.

Do you think the fries connect my audience to me and the app?

情人眼裏出西施 — 主觀性對聲景評價的影響