Off The Record
Japan Constructed the World’s Most Incredible Sound Garden
Nature itself has beautiful sounds. When the wind blows the trees make beautiful sound. When heavy rain drips through the leaves they make an amazing sound. Just like a wild orchestra.
Now, when a tree falls in a Forrest does it make a sound? What if you use those trees to make a giant, 50-yard long xylophone. Do you think it makes a sound? It certainly does, and that sound is astounding!
In 2012, when a Japanese company put the latest touch phone on the market, Morihiro Harano and his teammates decided to abstain from the technological addiction associated with such spots and take an organic approach, instead emphasizing the phone’s wooden backplate. A strange design may seem like an odd thing to emphasize, but it was necessary for the project.
Working together with carpenter Mitsuo Tsuda, sound engineer Kenjiro Matsuo, and on-site carpenter, the team created a huge xylophone elevated from the forest floor.
This reticular xylophone was not tangled and complicated, but rather a simple, straight line.
Then, they placed a small rubber ball at the top of the xylophone and let it free fall down, slowly plunking across the shady groves.
Note by note, the ball plunked out Bach’s famous Cantana 147, instrumental subtleties and tempos intact.
In the middle of the silence in the forest, the wooden symphony was composed by this beautiful creation.
There was little room for mistake – one misplaced sound could distort the entire Cantana’s tempo off – making the construction of the instrument extra difficult.
The exact day the commercial was filmed, a massive earthquake hit Japan. When the commercial was on thereafter, the xylophone’s peaceful melody provided a calming experience for the nationally-felt trauma – and more importantly, a message everyone needed to hear. A message of hope and rebuilding, of nature’s indestructible ability to survive, carry on and stay beautiful. The advertisement went viral, and eventually aired on television (check it out below).
Today, the forest xylophone has found its new home at the Daisetsu Mori-no Garden, the primary venue of Japan’s famous Hokkaido Garden Show.
Visitors to the forest can buy a rubber ball from a vending machine and become conductors, proceeding one after the other to continue the vernal symphony.
Because wet boards can rot and deteriorate, the xylophone “rests” on rainy days, but at any other time, the forests of Japan are alive with the sound of music – and while the tune may be Bach’s, the music ultimately owes its magic to the spirit of nature.