Title means "Quietness", "Comfortable Sound" and "Excellent Acoustics"

Nagata Acoustics News 00-03 (No.147)
Issued : March 25, 2000

"TAISHA BUNKA PLACE" Opened in October 1999

by Chiaki Ishiwata

The exterior of Taisha Bunka Place
Shimane Prefecture is one of the five prefectures in the western part of Japan known as the Chugoku region, an area rich in religious historical sites. Among them is the famous Izumo Shrine, located in Taisha-cho Town, Shimane Prefecture. (The name "Taisha-cho" literally means "large shrine town."). Last autumn, on October 23, 1999, Taisha-cho became home to a new and contemporary cultural site: "TAISH BUNKA PLACE."

This project began back in 1993, with the well-reported design competition won by TOYO ITO & ASSOCIATES, ARCHITECTS. The original winning design had an open-air amphitheater on a rooftop. Because this area of Japan is also known as the birthplace of "Okuni-Kabuki", the design competition submissions were required to include a hall in which this theater genre could be performed, and the winning design placed Japanese-style raised, tatami box seating in the hall's balcony.

Thereafter, a new town mayor came into office in Taisha-cho and the entire project was reviewed and put on hold. In 1995, it was decided that the facility's hall should be a multipurpose hall that the general public would use, and a small hall and library were added to the plans. Now, seven years after the original design competition put Taisha-cho on the modern architectural map, the new facility has been completed and is open for use.

<< Building Layout >>

The plan of Taisha Bunka Place
TAISHA BUNKA PLACE has three main facilities: the large and small halls and a library. All three are housed on the same main floor with one, shared lobby area. The large hall has been given the name DANDAN HALL ("dandan" being a local dialect expression meaning "thank you"). The level-floored small hall is named GOEN HALL ("goen" being a Japanese word that means connection or relationship, often with karmic overtones), and the library is named DENDEN-MUSHI (literally, "snail").

The common lobby and adjacent LOUNGE URAURA, as well as DANDAN HALL and the DANDAN TERRACE alongside it, all share the same deck-material flooring, contributing to the spacious atmosphere inside the building. Outside, the building presents a gentle and unobtrusive profile. The low height of the building is achieved by having the floor of the multipurpose DANDAN HALL, which has stage flies, set at the basement level.

<< The Multipurpose Large Hall: DANDAN HALL >>

"Dandan Hall"
TAISHA BUNKA PLACE's DANDAN HALL is a multipurpose hall with retractable acoustical reflection panels. The hall can be adjusted to seat an audience of either 600 or 438 persons. In the 438-seat arrangement, the ceiling reflection panels to create a backdrop for the front-stage area closes off the proscenium opening of the hall's stage. (Credit for suggesting this stage design belongs to Nihon University's Professor Dr.Motosugi, who served as theater consultant on the project.)

The hall's seating area slopes upward from the stage to the rear of the hall in a single, rectangular block. This creates a feeling of unity between the stage and the audience seating. Initially, the hall's architect proposed using glass for the hall's side walls so that there would be natural light in the hall and to prevent the hall from having a closed-in feeling. However, it needs many consideration to introduced glass, such as sound isolation, shading, sound reflection characteristics, musicians's impression. Instead of the original large glass panel design, an effective compromise was reached by implementing a saw-tooth curtain wall design in which only the wall panels not visible to the stage are made of glass. For the glass portions of the side walls, we used two layers of different thicknesses. In between the two glass layers, we stipulated an air space greater than 300 mm (118"), thereby trapping sound. With this sound isolation design we achieved sound isolation performance equivalent to the sound isolation achieved with typical single-layer concrete wall construction between a hall and its foyer.

An additional acoustical design element of DANDAN HALL is the retractable curtain we installed at the rear of the hall. The hall's reverberation times in its various configurations are as follows. (All measurements are at 500 Hz and assume full seating occupancy.)

DANDAN HALL Reverberation Time Measurements


Room Volume

Reverberation Time

600 seats

6,400 m3

(226,000 ft3)

1.6 seconds

With reflection panels deployed and rear wall curtain retracted


With stage curtain and rear wall curtain deployed

438 seats

5,400 m3

(191,000 ft3)

1.5 seconds

With rear wall curtain retracted

The chart above also shows the ample room volume we achieved in Dandan Hall, considering the number of seats in either configuration. Because of the relatively large room volume, the acoustical environment can comfortably support sound generated by a larger orchestra than is typical for a hall with just 438 or 600 seats.

<< The Small Hall: GOEN HALL >>

The level-floored GOEN HALL is intended for a broad variety of uses, from music and drama rehearsals and performances to wedding receptions to parent and child joint exercise classes. For performance use, about 200 chairs can be deployed for audience seating.

The original architectural plan for this hall shows the floor shape as a circle. The exterior of the hall, as it was finally built, retains the circular shape. But in a circular room, sound reflections create concentrations of sound that result in unnatural-sounding acoustics. From an acoustical perspective, the acoustical hindrances circular-shaped rooms create for both rehearsals and performances make acousticians avoid circular-shaped hall configurations.

To counteract the problematic effects of GOEN HALL's intended circular configuration, we began by performing numerous computer simulations to test possible alternatives and adaptations, while simultaneously consulting with the architect as to what changes might be acceptable and not compromise the integrity of the architectural plan. The solution that we devised places a large flat wall at both the front and rear of GOEN HALL. The wall that abuts the top of the rear flat wall was given an outward sloping angle (from where it abuts the rear flat wall towards the ceiling). Additionally, for the portions of the circular side walls that remain visible in between the front and rear flat walls, we used perforated metal paneling, which is acoustically transparent. Behind the panels, we inserted glass wool in a dispersed pattern to create absorptive locations along the side walls. On the ceiling, we also installed perforated boards and glass wool in a dispersed pattern to absorb sound there as well. The implementation of these acoustical design elements eliminated the concentrations of sound and unnatural-sounding acoustics usually associated with circular configurations. GOEN HALL provides audiences and attendees with a direct, pleasurable sound experience.

<< Construction Techniques: Using Pre-cast Panels >>

The side walls of both two halls were constructed using the "dry construction" of pre-cast concrete panels. For the side walls of the building to fit correctly up against the large, curved roof of TAISHA BUNKA PLACE, each pre-cast panel had to be made to a different measurement. This added greatly to the labor-intensiveness and level of detail and concentration required during the building's construction. From an acoustical perspective, the use of pre-cast panels also meant that extra attention was needed to eliminate acoustically-impacting gaps between adjoining pre-cast panels, between pre-cast panels and roof slabs and between pre-cast panels and floor slabs. We had these gaps rectified by several different methods and materials, including affixing multiple layers of lead sheets and rock wool and using mortar and a variety of sealants.

<< Inaugural Concert and Future Use of the Halls >>

The Hiroshima Symphony Orchestra performed DANDAN HALL's inaugural concert, with participation by baritone Akiya Fukushima and other vocalists, native of Taisha-cho. They all happily received excellent critical acclaim.

Taisha-cho boasts proficient school brass bands and chorale groups who annually rank high enough to perform in all-Japan competitions. Discussion is under way about enabling these young and talented musicians to practice in TAISHA BUNKA PLACE's halls.

For more information on TAISHA BUNKA PLACE, contact the facility directly at +81-853-53-6500 or view the facility's website at http://www.dandan.gr.jp/~place/urara.htm

"Kurabikan" Celebrates Its Fifth Anniversary in Scenic Tanakura-machi

by Toshiko Fukuchi

Tanakura-machi is a quiet town in the southeast corner of Fukushima Prefecture. The town's population of 16,500 persons lives among green rice fields often enhanced by "Technicolor" views of distant mountains and stunning sunsets. Five years ago, in November 1995, Tanakura-machi Culture Center, "Kurabikan," began operations.

Tanakura-machi Culture Center is located next to a sports-oriented, hot springs spa and resort facility named Renaissance Tanakura. Architect Tetsuo Furuichi, a native of Tanakura-machi, designed the striking Culture Center building. His excellent placement of the building and innovative design turned the split-level characteristic of the center's site into an attractive asset. From the foyer of the center's hall, visitors enjoy a vista of the stunning Yamizo-Renpo peaks that mark the border between Fukushima and Ibaragi prefectures. I have been told that the seductive sunset palette makes those who view it become so engrossed in its beauty that they lose track of the passage of time (and appointments they may have made!), and performers from far away who have seen the sunset views have been known to book return concerts just so that they may experience the sunsets again.

<< Kurabikan Hall and Its Volunteer-based Administration >>

The main facility of the Culture Center is Kurabikan Hall, which seats 606 persons and is a high-ceilinged, multipurpose hall designed with a focus on classical music. During the five years that the hall has been in operation, the hall has been used both for the classical music concerts for which it was primarily designed and for a variety of other events. Recently, architect Furuichi shared with me that the townspeople of Tanakura-machi are very active, as volunteers, in the planning and operations of Kurabikan Hall. I immediately made an appointment to visit Tanakura-machi and learn more about Kurabikan Hall's successful operations. There I met with four gentlemen who share management responsibilities related to Kurabikan: Mr. Suzuki, a civil service employee and manager of the Lifelong Learning Section of Tanakura-machi's School Board; his colleague, Mr. Sudo, who serves as Chief of the Culture Center as well as deputy to Mr. Suzuki; Mr. Souda, Chairman of the Kurabikan Operations League, and Mr. Ogawara, Chief of Kurabikan Hall's Music Department. The Operations League is the name of the volunteer organization that not only plans all of the concerts held under Kurabikan Hall's own auspices, but also carries out all of the organizational and operations work required to stage these performances. The volunteer league's chairman, Mr. Souda, is the owner of a local sake brewery with a long history and Music Department chief Mr. Ogawara is the scion of a family that for generations was engaged in the timber industry, when that industry provided a major source of revenue in Tanakura-machi.

<< The Volunteer League's Organization and Responsibilities >>

Kurabikan Hall's volunteer Operations League presently has 63 members. Recruitment for the league was handled by the town government's Public Relations Department. The league organizes its activities by performance genre, and has four committees, one each for music, theater, cinema, and traditional Japanese performing arts. The work of each committee covers a wide range of hall operations, including concert/performance planning and ticket printing. On the day of a league-planned performance, league members staff the backstage and front office of the hall and take responsibility for running the event and on-site hall management.

Back when the Operations League first began its work, league members had to go door-to-door in order to sell tickets to the performances they planned. Now, however, townspeople call the league to purchase tickets and popular programs sell out the first day that tickets go on sale.

<< Film Showings Fill a Town Need >>

The Operations League annually plans and sponsors 24 - 25 performances at Kurabikan Hall. Of these, approximately one-half are film showings. In principle, the league's policy is to show films for free. Recently, however, the league began bringing current major studio movie releases to Kurabikan Hall, and for these events it charges an entrance fee. Despite the entrance fee for current release, feature movies, the league finds that it draws a larger audience with these films than when it runs other kinds of films. Because the town's only movie house closed some time ago, a trip to the movies now involves a long drive along local roads to another mountain town named Koriyama. This might not stop the younger people of Tanakura-machi, but for the older population of the town, the drive to Koriyama takes too much effort. This audience group is delighted that the Kurabikan Operations League brings feature movie entertainment right to their own town.

<< Kurabikan Hall's Other Uses and Rental Activity >>

In addition to the programs that Kurabikan Hall sponsors through the work of the volunteer Operations League, the Local School Board holds performances and events aimed at elementary and middle school-aged children. The prefecture-run high school's arts appreciation course is also held at Kurabikan Hall. The Japanese school year begins in April, and many high schools, colleges and universities hold their spring orientations at Renaissance Tanakura, right next door to Kurabikan. Renaissance Tanakura has lodging accommodations for 450 persons, so many of the schools that do their orientations at Renaissance Tanakura also book Kurabikan Hall for their ceremonial assemblies and general sessions. The hall is occupied nearly every day in the month of April for this purpose.

In total, Kurabikan Hall serves as the venue for approximately 160 concerts and events annually. This puts the hall's utilization rate at approximately 54 - 55%.

<< The Advantage of Having a Complementary Facility Nearby >>

As Kurabikan Hall's use for school orientations demonstrates, having Renaissance Tanakura right next door is a fortuitous circumstance that most halls do not enjoy. In addition to the lodging that Renaissance Tanakura provides, there is the unique appeal of Tanakura Renaissance's hot springs spa facilities.

From metropolitan Tokyo, Kurabikan Hall and Renaissance Tanakura are located just slightly more than a three-hour expressway drive away. The easy group accessibility from the "big city" made me wonder why the two facilities have not been used for music festivals and other events that, for example, would combine concerts with musical seminars and workshops. I mentioned this to the four gentlemen I interviewed. They were very receptive to the idea.

<< Kurabikan Hall's Finances >>

Kurabikan Hall receives an annual subsidy of \15 million ($142,000) from Tanakura-machi's government coffers for use in the planning and programs aspects of its operations. The hall received additional funds of \10 million ($94,000) in each of its first and fourth years through corporate grants. The annual budget for expenses related to these operational aspects of the hall equals \40 million ($377,000), including the 24 - 25 concerts sponsored by the hall each year. Ticket revenues make up a portion of the difference between the governmental subsidy the hall receives and these costs.

In the two years when Kurabikan Hall received the corporate grants, large-scale concerts were relatively easy to afford and the total number of concerts also increased. I understood from my interviews that the Operations League volunteers who come together each year to plan the Kurabikan Hall's programs (both the large, corporate-sponsored concerts and smaller events that entertain the local community) derive substantial pleasure from this work. That this personal satisfaction suffices as "remuneration" for the efforts of the Operations League means that Kurabikan Hall does not need to spend its limited funds on personnel to perform program planning and implementation.

Kurabikan Hall's costs include building administration and maintenance, salaries for five employees and the costs incurred to realize the hall's own programming activities. Total annual spending by the hall reaches \100 million ($940,000). This is a hefty annual expense for a town of Tanakura-machi's size. Nevertheless, Tanakura-machi is making it happen, testifying to the town's determination that Kurabikan Hall serve the cultural and entertainment needs of the local community in which it was built.

As a visitor to the town, I was impressed by its dedication and the stamina it has shown for the past five years. In this article, I reported on the success that the hall, with its actively involved community, has achieved to date. In the future, I hope to hear more good news about Kurabikan Hall and its volunteer Operations League. I also hope that spreading the word about Tanakura-machi's endeavors may in some way be of value to the town and its hall in achieving their goals.

For more information on Kurabikan Hall, contact the hall directly by telephone at +81-247-33-0111, or by Fax at +81-247-33-9611.

Japan Professional Sound Technicians Society Forms

by Hideo Nakamura

For more than 20 years, two professional organizations have served the interests of the Japanese technicians who operate hall and theater sound equipment for the concert tours and events held there. One is the Japan Theater Sound and Special Effects Society and the other is the Japan Public Address Technicians Congress. At the time that the two organizations came into being, there was an apparent need and ability to distinguish the kinds of work done by members of each organization. But from the perspective of obtaining the best sound for a performance or event, the work performed by members of the two organizations overlaps greatly. Over the years, the two organizations have acknowledged their similarities by increasingly cooperating with each other on matters requiring their joint input and action.

With the advent of the new millennium, the two organizations decided that the time had come to finally bring to fruition the efforts that have been in progress on both sides to combine the two organizations into one. On January 1, 2000, the two organizations combined under the new name, Japan Professional Sound Technicians Society. A celebration kick-off party for the new society was held on January 13, 2000.

Nagata Acoustics values highly the information that professional sound technicians provide us. They have hands-on, day-to-day experience working inside halls and theaters with sound equipment that critically affects the sound quality of events and concerts. We look forward to partnering with the Japan Professional Sound Technicians Society in our mutual pursuit of excellent acoustics and we wish it much success as it follows in the path of its two predecessors in representing their now united membership.

In Memoriam
The Sudden Loss of Sound System Businessman Kazuyasu Takane

by Hideo Nakamura

Saturday evening, March 3, 2000, I was checking my email at home when one unsettling line caused me to do a double take. The sentence read, "EVI Audio Japan president, Kazuyasu Takane dead from sudden illness while traveling in the United States." I last saw Takane-san when we met about one month earlier. Then, he had his usual ruddy complexion and seemed in fine health. Even now, as I write these words in Takane-san's memory, it is difficult for me to accept that he is gone.

Some 20 years ago, Takane-san was headhunted as the president of Electrovoice Japan. Over the years, he changed the company name twice, first to Mark Four Audio Japan, then to EVI Audio Japan. Always, however, his company sold commercial sound system equipment, representing, in particular, the Electrovoice and Altec brands. Takane-san built his business and reputation so well that, in Japan, it was in a class by itself.

Takane-san cut a dashing figure with his tall height and fluent English. To many of my generation, these characteristics made him the epitome of the astute international businessman. I am sure his worldly finesse was the envy of many more Japanese than just myself. In addition to his physical stature and linguistic ability, Takane-san had a warm personality that made him well liked by all who knew him. Many are the friends, both in Japan and around the world, who will mourn his loss.

At the memorial service held in Takane-san's honor, his wife began her remarks by saying, "I am proud of my husband for devoting his life to his family and to his work..." When I think of how Takane-san met his end far away from home and family, in such a sudden fashion, and how he had so looked forward to the day, now never to come, when he would retire and he and his wife would together enjoy the golfing they loved to share-I am at a loss for words. All that is left is to pray that his memory will be for a blessing, that his family will soon recover from this tragedy and again live joyous lives, and that the company that he nurtured will endure and prosper despite his absence.

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Nagata Acoustics News 00-03iNo.147j
Issued : March 25, 2000

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