One of the most spiritual natural spaces on the planet is the Sagano bamboo forest, which offers a unique soundscape.
The Sagano bamboo forest grows on the outskirts of Kyoto near the Tenryu-Ji temple, in Kyoto, Japan. It is a quiet place in nature with a series of paths full of tourists where, if we manage to leave aside the sounds of visitors and their cameras, it will be possible to hear the rustling, creaking, and swaying of one of the most emblematic soundscapes of Japan. So much so that it has been recognized at a governmental level.
The Arashiyama (in northwestern Japan) region experiences unpredictable weather with a rather cool climate and bright sunlight. Here, summers are characterized as short, hot, and mostly cloudy. And winters are very cold, windy, partly cloudy, and mainly characterized by year-round humidity.
The dreamlike bamboo forest contrasts with the urbanity that surrounds it, making it seem like a dreamlike place amid reality. Its wooden paths intertwine with the dense thicket of tall bamboo stalks that reach dozens of meters, creating a canopy that blocks much of the sunlight, except for those lucky rays that manage to sneak through the thick landscape, creating an almost poetic atmosphere.
Over 50 varieties of bamboo grow in this unique ecosystem. Some of these varieties grow more than 20 meters high, making the light varies and offering various color effects depending on the time of day. At night the forest is illuminated and provides spectacular contrasts.
But the light is not the only attraction of the site, the soundscape is too. If you pay attention to your surroundings, you will notice that when the wind blows through the plants, the wood bends and creaks, creating a natural symphony. The leaves also do their own thing and bring their sounds to the landscape, coupled with the clashing of the bamboo trunks against each other, a sound that is unlike anything we have ever heard.
This meditative natural noise is so enchanting that Japan’s Ministry of the Environment designated the aural delights of this place as one of Japan’s 100 Soundscapes. This initiative was designed to encourage local people to get out and appreciate the acoustic wonders of the country.
If you manage to find a moment to visit the bamboo forest when it is empty, the combination of visual beauty and aural calm combine to offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Story originally published in Spanish in Ecoosfera