The sound of bronze Buddhist temple bells, or Bonshou as they are known in Japanese, tolling in the morning and evening has been part of the Japanese landscape since ancient times.
For the Iwasawa Bell Company, recreating the sound of Bonshou bells at precisely the desired tone has required the collection and analysis of many sound samples, for the perception of sound can be affected by factors including the environment, season, weather, and even the age and tastes of the listener. When it comes to the production of Bonshou bells, it is all the more important to consider the element of sound throughout the entire casting process, which involves pouring molten metal into individually handcrafted molds. The various sections of a Bonshou bell are said to correspond to parts of the Buddha's body, and the sound of a Bonshou bell is even believed to be the voice of the Buddha. For this article, we spoke with the president of the Iwasawa Bell Company, a seasoned veteran in the pursuit of the ideal Bonshou bell tone.