man-made primeval forest /composition


title of the project  : man-made Primeval Forest
production year  : 2019
duration  : 9’20”
World Premiere  : Festival FUTURA 2019 (France) on 22nd August 2019
data format  : waveform audioaudio channels : 2
sample rate : 48,000
bits per sample : 24

[concept + theme]

I created forest-themed electroacoustic music to be interpreted with a loudspeaker orchestra as I hope to come out of the depths of despair felt since the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku.

[cue of inspiration]

The forest is deep and sacred for many of Japanese people. We have thought that gods descend onto high mountains or large forests where we cannot enter, and that gods have lived there since ancient times. Many mountains have shrines as if to tell this historical story. In a summer past when I was three, my family and I visited Onagawa, a small fishing town in the northeast of the mainland in Japan where my grandparents were living. There was a large forest, where I felt a huge energy flow. Although I was little, I realised its great existence through every sense of my whole body and was completely overwhelmed. These layered energies received while surrounded by tall trees, were clearly kept in my mind throughout my life.

At 2:46 pm on March 11 in 2011, a large earthquake of magnitude 9.0 named the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku occurred. The main earthquake, the accompanying tsunami, and subsequent aftershocks caused enormous damage to the entire eastern area of Japan from the Tōhoku district to the Kantō plains.

When I first visited the tsunami-hit area after the disaster, a shock and upset was far beyond all imagination. On March 20, my father and I loaded up relief supplies and got in a car to visit an evacuation centre to see my grandmother. After that my grandmother and we went to check my grandparents’ small house at the foot of a mountain, however it had been washed away without a trace by a 17.6-meter-high tsunami. The mountain face had been torn away and the beautiful forest had disappeared.

Shortly thereafter, reconstruction projects began and the Great East Japan Earthquake Reconstruction Headquarters was set up in the Cabinet on June 24 during the restoration period. The Reconstruction Agency was established on February 10, 2012. I hoped that the forest, which I had never expected to be lost, would be restored as much as possible, and I decided to devote myself to reconstruction work.

However, reforestation was not planned for some time. Reconstruction projects involved a wide variety of skills, knowledge, and enormous funding, many of which were to build new living places and social infrastructure. Sadly, concrete breakwaters were built to hide the beautiful coast, and parts of the mountains were destroyed to create new residential areas. It was incredible, but in this way, destruction of nature was rapidly progressing as a way of recovery from natural disasters.

On May 2, 2015, a documentary was broadcast on NHK: Meiji Jingu – Mysterious Forest: A large-scale experiment of 100 Years. The program asked the question: What are we recovering from? It wasn’t a deep argument. It was the moral cause to undertake reconstruction quickly with tax money and contributions received overseas. However, to destroy nature in order to rebuild was a contradiction that made me feel pain in my heart. The program reported that three forest scientists and scholars had planted 100,000 trees and had begun a magnificent experiment that will take over 100 years to complete a primitive forest. Since then, the place has been prohibited to enter and protected as a sanctuary for over 100 years. I have heard that it is the mysterious forest in Meiji Shrine in Tokyo.

This incredible fact encouraged me when I was exhausted both physically and mentally. Research has shown that nearly 3,000 species of animals and plants, from raccoon dogs to goshawks reigning at the top of the ecosystem, to small slime molds have been observed, confirming that this forest is a world of life. I was inspired by this kind of indigenous forest in Tokyo and tried to believe that the forest that had disappeared due to the 2011 earthquake off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku could be restored one day in the future.

Even if a plan for reforestation is decided, it will take enormous time to complete. It will probably be difficult to complete it while I am alive. Nevertheless, I dreamed in my heart that one day in the future, a mysterious forest would reappear in that place. In the meantime, I wanted to preserve some form of the energy I felt through my whole body as a child, the summer days I spent there. That is the principal motivation to compose this music.

[the outcome]

The rich and beautiful scenery of the hometown where my grandparents had lived and the time spent there was lost in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. However, not only the preciousness of the nature I never wanted to be lost which I feel even more for now is not being restored, but I also witnessed the reality of a new destruction of nature being done by governments and stakeholders. The sadness, helplessness and despair that could not be described, along with the memories and never-ending dream I have for the distant future, came to fruition in the form of this piece.

Instead of single time flow, multi-layered time flow overlaps. It contains various life and huge energy overflow. This music is one of experiment that I tried to recompose four-dimensional sound effects. In this work, instrumental sounds, environmental sounds, my own voice, and fine electronic sounds are layered and mixed to resonate through a loud-speaker orchestra.

FestivalFUTURA on August 2020, France