Comfort on the wind

The original wind telephone in Otsuchi, Japan. Photo by Matthew Komatsu via Creative Commons 4.0

A “WIND telephone” may be installed in a local park to help people grieve lost loved ones via one-way conversations into an unconnected phone.  

Bayswater council recently received a request to install a wind phone from the family of local man Chris Taylor, who died in his sleep aged 34 while on a family holiday in 2018.

Having never heard of a wind phone, council staff turned to Wikipedia to investigate and learned: “The wind phone (kaze no denwa) is an unconnected telephone booth in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, Japan, where visitors can hold one-way conversations with deceased loved ones.

“Initially created by garden designer Itaru Sasaki in 2010 to help him cope with his cousin’s death, it was opened to the public in the following year after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake nd tsunami killed over 15,000 people in the Tohoku region.”

Other wind phones have now been built around the world, and the Taylor family have built one they’d like to install on a tree in Claughton Reserve. It would likely be the first one installed in Australia.

A timber telephone crafted by the Taylor family, proposed for a Bayswater park.

Mr Taylor’s mum Merle Taylor wrote that people found the phones “very therapeutic and emotionally soothing in their time of grief”, and the act of picking up the handset and talking into the mouthpiece brought comfort to loved ones. 

She said the wind phone they built wasn’t a memorial to her son but was “inspired by his death, and my hope is that others who have suffered loss may find this phone a tool to ease their grief”.

On Tuesday the council approved the phone’s installation by the family at Claughton Reserve, subject to discussions with Indigenous elders about a suitable location.

A staff recommendation to councillors said: “A wind telephone would be a delicate installation, and as such could be subject to vandalism if not protected or positioned in an appropriate location.”

by DAVID BELL

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