Hello! It’s Tomocchi ☆
This heat won’t let up lately, will it? Yesterday, I got to “bathe in sound” in cool mountains so remote that cell phone signals won’t reach.
(The Japanese name of this museum, “onyoku hakubutsukan” translates literally to “Sound Bath Museum,” which is the reason for the allusions to bathing and water in this article.)
60 minutes by car away from Nagasaki or Sasebo, after traversing roads that look like you might see Totoro at any moment, I finally reached this secluded gem.
The Onyoku Museum, located in the mountains of Saikai’s Oseto-machi at a height of 400 meters, holds over 160,000 analog records. Furthermore, they also have a collection of phonographs that guests can listen to freely! It’s like a “bath house of sound” from a dream.
As soon as you enter the building, Victor the RCA mascot dog is there to greet you!(・∀・)
Mr. Takashima, a representative of the curator, kindly showed us around the museum.
This is a real Edison Standard Phonograph, invented by Edison himself (ﾟдﾟ) (This isn’t a replica!!)
He told us that when this was created they didn’t have records like we know now, but rather used phonograph cylinders ☆
I can’t believe I was listening to speakers that were a hundred years old!!
Since these came out they have spread across the world, but in its early days they might cost as much as a house!
Next he showed us the “Gramophone House”.
Not only did they have around 60 manual gramophones and about 10,000 SP records, but they also had manual calculators, Japanese typewriters, musical instruments, and publications all from the Showa Period!!! (I love retro things so I could hardly contain myself ☆)
10,000 SP records!! (ﾟдﾟ)
Guests can listen as much as they like to Showa Period songs, from before the advent of the LP, on these gramophones.
Look at these retro drawers!!! They remind me of my grandmother’s house.
Next he showed us the LP hall.
Here are 150,000 records from after the Showa period and include classical, jazz, folk, rock, and enka. The sight was so overwhelming it almost made me dizzy!!
It feels so good to relax in a chair and be showered by the sound of an old speaker. This is happiness…
“…But is it even okay to be using these records???” I asked Mr. Takashima. He said that records that just sit on shelves are meaningless. Listening to them gives them value.”
There is a mountain of precious records in the museum, but let me tell you about this particularly valuable one on display in the entrance hall.
This is an extremely rare sample album from Fukuyama Masaharu, a singer-songwriter from Nagasaki. Very early in his career he gave out these samples to get his name out and they were never commercially sold. I heard that copies of this sample are so rare that even the artist himself doesn’t have one. His fans come from all over the country to hear this record!!!
This is an album for the song “THIS IS A SONG FOR COCA-COLA” which was part of a commercial in 1980 and features Yazawa Eikichi.
…But if you look really closely at the record on the bottom, you can see that it’s missing an “A”. Only after it had been printed was this discovered and then was reprinted with the “A”. That makes the bottom one an especially rare first edition!!
Here is there event hall which occasionally hosts live performances. There are 15 sets of speakers from the 1950s to the 2000s on standby.
Of course you can listen to records here, but the really interesting thing is that you can have a record playing but switch in between different sets of speakers. It makes it really easy and fun to compare them!
There were so many different types of speakers and they produced such different sounds. Some were mild, some were tight. The older speakers were made of paper and it was so interesting to hear the sounds they made, the paper shaking and the sound lingering. Different speakers really are better suited to certain types of music. The same song played through different speakers can sound completely different.
Jazz, enka, rock, classical… It feels so luxurious to be able to pick the speaker to suit the kind of music you’re listening to!
I want to just close my eyes and drift away in this sea of sounds…
The Onyoku Museum is known for having lots of speakers. I heard that recently two people brought boxed lunches and spend eight hours in the museum! Celebrities quietly frequent the museum as well. It’s also gaining attention from being part of one of the tours on the Seven Stars Cruise Train.
At a cool elevation of 400 meters, it’s also a great spot to escape the summer heat.
Come bathe in sound in the secluded mountains where even cellphone signals won’t reach.
(Cell signal won’t reach but they have free Wifi.)
The museum mascot Yuki-chan will be very excited to meet you there ♪
The Onyoku Museum (Onyoku Hakubutsukan)
Address: 342-80 Yukinoura Tsuugou, Oseto-machi, Saikai-shi, Nagasaki-ken, 857-2323
Admission fees: Adults (High School and up) 510 yen / Youths (Elementary to Junior High School) 250 yen / Children not yet of Elementary School age are free
Hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm
Closed: Mondays and Holidays (and weekdays after holidays)