Travel notes, reviews and useful tips

Sony and the Berlin Phil in Ginza

An acquaintance of mine who has been in Tokyo for a few months read my previous article on job hunting in Ginza, and asked me what it was that I liked so much about the place. Isn’t the entire district a showroom for high fashion and haute couture from abroad? (Continued after the Japanese summary)

先日は銀座・ソニービルで開催中の「ベルリン・フィル in 銀座」へ行ってきました。イベントは、ベルリン・フィルハーモニー管弦楽団の演奏を、ソニーが開発した技術「4K(3840画素 x 2160画素)/ 60p(フレームレート)」で200インチの大型スクリーンに映し出される迫力ある映像と、ソニーの最高級スピーカー「SS-ARI」を用いた高品位なサウンド「DDS録音再生」で楽しめるコンサート体験でした。

ビルの1階にあるパネルではベルリン・フィルの名指揮者や音楽家とソニーの協業について、30年以上に渡るコラボレーションを写真と和英の文書で説明。8階のOPUSホールで開催中のプログラムは非常に短かった(15分以内)が、驚くほどシャープな画像と、コンサートホールにいるかのようなクリアな音声で、ベルリン・フィルのメンデルゾーン、チャイコフスキー、そしてワーグナーの演奏を体感できました。このような超高画質・超高品位な映像、さすがです!

視聴者に配布されたプログラムの中、ベルリン・フィルとソニーが共同提供しているオンライン配信サービス「デジタル・コンサートホール」の48時間限定無料体験クーポンが入っています。イベントは2012年12月22日までですので、お近くにいる方、是非お見逃しなく^^

Well, yes, Ginza is indeed Japan’s compact version of New York’s 5th Avenue. But that’s precisely one of the reasons I love Ginza: it reminds me of NYC’s tony neighborhood, which I really loved (in the walking and window-shopping sense of the word)!

Back in the ’80s and early ’90s during the economic bubble Ginza was place to be for spending all that disposable income. It was, and still is, the best place to shop for high-end Italian and French fashion brands. Even now I would heartily recommend those in Asia who could afford it to shop in these luxe brands’ Ginza flagship stores; while there are many shopping districts in Asia where all these famous names appear, I still believe that Japanese retail service and hospitality are unparalleled, one of the finest in the world.

But what if you are from, say, France or Italy, and could not care less for Chanel or Gucci in Japan?

The Sony Building in Ginza at night

The Sony Building in Ginza at night

One of the places I always recommend to travelers visiting Ginza for the first time (and not interested in shopping European brands) is the Sony Building. It’s right across the Yurakucho JR station, very easy to find. While the interior is not as spacious as it looks on the outside, it’s still a nice place to be.

If you are a fan of Sony products then it is a really nice place to be. You get to see all the latest offers. There is a duty-free shop. You can bring your Sony DSLR or micro 4/3 camera and try out the lenses.

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The friendly lady in the showroom saw me carrying my Sony NEX-5n camera and asked me if I wanted to try out some lenses.

A diorama inside the showroom, taken with a Sony Nex-5n and 24mm f/1.8 lens

A diorama inside the showroom, taken with a Sony NEX-5n and 24mm f/1.8 lens

I picked the 24mm f/1.8 lens: it has a price tag I could not afford, but hey, I can shoot with it for a few minutes, yey! :)

Paper decor at the Sony showroom, for practice shots. Taken with a Sony NEX-5n and 24mm f/1.8 lens

Paper decor at the Sony showroom, for practice shots. Taken with a Sony NEX-5n and 24mm f/1.8 lens

There is almost always an event going on in the building. I went there precisely to see the one in collaboration with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. In the first floor are panels explaining the relationship of the company with one of the world’s finest orchestras. Sony and the Berlin Phil have been in collaboration for thirty years to produce the best recorded sound, the display explains. Now, the two have produced a service as well as a set of products wherein you can experience the purest, truest Berlin Phil sound and imagery at the comfort of your own home.

Panels on the 8th floor Opus Hall explaining the program

Panels on the 8th floor Opus Hall explaining the program

If you are on the first floor reading the panels and looking at the pics of Karajan and the fine musicians of the Berlin Phil, a lady will eventually approach you and encourage you to attend the show on the 8th floor Opus Hall.

People waiting to get in the theater at the Opus Hall in the Sony Building at Ginza

People waiting to get in the theater at the Opus Hall in the Sony Building at Ginza

It is less than 15 minutes long, but quite amazing. The show uses Sony’s super high-vision 4K (imagery at 3840 x 2160 pixels) / 60p (frame rate) technology on a 200 inch screen.

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Sony’s high-end SS-ARI speakers are placed strategically around the room. The results are incredible, crystal clear, stunning imagery and sound that makes you think you are actually inside a concert hall.

Inside the theater, before the show started

Inside the theater, before the show started

The program:

  • Nov. 26 to Dec. 9, 2012: Mendelsshon’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64, 1. Allegro molto appassionato
  • Dec. 10 to 22, 2012: Tschaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op. 35, 3. Allegro vivacissiomo
  • Nov. 26 to Dec. 22, 2012: Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries

If the program consisted of some stupid reality show I would’ve been much less impressed. But it’s the Berli Phil! I am one of those people who dream of visiting Germany and going to their concerts three nights in a row. I don’t care if they play Wagner each time (I don’t even like Wagner)!

Anyway, the whole show is partly an advertisement for the Berlin Phil’s Digital Concert Hall, a streaming service jointly developed by Sony and the Berlin Phil, offering live concerts, interviews and concert archives on the Internet via paid subscription. The music is available on DSD (Direct Stream Digital), a high-quality sound format developed by Sony.

Sony and the Berlin Phil program and flyer

Sony and the Berlin Phil program and flyer

The good thing about going to the Sony Building at Ginza and attending the show is that you get a coupon (found in the program) to a 48-hour free experience at the Digital Concert Hall. Enter the coupon code and you are all set: live concerts by the Berlin Phil, and all the archive performances you can eat up in two days. The classical music lover will have a couple days of bliss!

On the 4th floor showroom you can see the Berlin Phil again through the gorgeous Sony home theater systems that they have on display. A person can dream!

Floral display at the Sony Building for Spring 2012

Floral display at the Sony Building for Spring 2012

So go to Ginza, skip the fancy brands if you like, and visit places like the Sony Building or even Uniqlo’s flagship store.

There really is something for everyone here :)

When to Go

The Berlin Phil program is until Dec. 22, 2012, from 11:00 to 19:00. The concert experience show goes on every 20 minutes.

Check out Sony Building’s official site to see what is going on at the moment. The product showroom, of course, is always there regardless of the ongoing event.

How to Get There

A 1-minute walk from Exit B9 of Ginza Station on the Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, Ginza Line, and Hibiya Line
A 5-minute walk from Yurakucho Station on the JR Yamanote Line

Related Links

Angel in the Subway – job hunting in Ginza.
For Better or Worse: Avery Fisher Hall and The New York Phil – an article on concert halls.

External Links

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Sony Building Ginza – official site.
Digital Concert Hall – the Berlin Phil’s digital subscription service.

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One comment

  1. 4KとDDS技術は素晴らしいよね。
    4Kは自然な感じの画像だし、DSはすごい迫力!!
    ホームシアターとして欲しいな~

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