IOANA: Where Is My Oginoshima? Sound Poem of Tokyo IOANA: Where Is My Oginoshima? Sound Poem of Tokyo IOANA: Where Is My Oginoshima? Sound Poem of Tokyo


Why always rely on the visual: we have other senses as well.

This is a sound poem / recording collage made while in Tokyo. Tokyo proved shocking with its chaotic fullness ranging in the noise types of machines, crowds, announcements, and construction. Its loudness was particularly disturbing after having spent the previous week in the peaceful mountain village of Oginoshima. This sound poem, thus, documents both the sounds of Tokyo and acts as a search for peace, for “My Oginoshima.”

Executed on a basic tape recorder, without the ability to mix separate tracks, but rather to rewind and record on top, it is a crude composition. Contributing to its rawness is the fact that it was done while carrying and using a camera, a sketchbook, a towel, food, water; while sweating in the August sun trying as best as possible to find a way through the Tokyo crowds and complicated transportation system, in search, like all tourists, for memorable or significant artifacts.

The recording was played at Meiji University, in the dark, to a college audience, including Reiko Tomita of Team Zoo who remarked that she had never noticed before that that is how Tokyo sounded.

The final composition is a series of sound periods. The first period [I] is of heavy group sounds, of trains and announcements, filled in by Ioana’s comments about the place, becoming at one point, an apparent repetition of itself, thus anonymous and staccato, similar to the anonymous staccato of repetitive movements within the city. This first period is full of disruptive overlaps.

The second period [II] is a sudden empty disruption of almost no sound, of mostly bird cries and my footsteps in the cemetery and Ioana’s more quiet, lonely thoughts. Sharply contrasting the first period of destructive sound, this mute silence absorbs the sounds of those listening. If the first period is black, then this one is white.

The third period [III] is a deep, mixed grey. As a comeback to the fullness of the city, it is again loud, although without the violent disruptions of the first period. It mainly consists of conglomerate city sounds and concluding comments.

The final question is the title of the piece. The sadness found in the tremor, persistence and meaning of this question “Where is my Oginoshima?” stayed with Ioana the rest of her trip through Japan, for she never found her Oginoshima again.

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TRANSCRIPT of recording

Played at Meiji University, Tokyo, JAPAN, in August 1999

Ioana Urma