"While its facade may be multinational, Sony is still very much a Japanese company. More than that, it's a Tokyo company -- not just part of the city, it is the city. While ads mark territory like dogs piss on fire-hydrants, Sony has made its mark with buildings strewn across the city's hippest neighborhoods, namely Aoyama and Akasaka, as well as ritzy Ginza.
"I'm going to Sony to see if any insights can be gained on the company's corporate culture can be gained from the buildings and surrounding neighborhoods. I'm documenting the entire trip for the interested and curious."
Those interested in following in Ashcroft's footsteps should rest assured: Sony's showroom (phone number: 3573-2563) is always a fun browse. On display are all the trend-setting electronics company's latest offerings and often a few prototypes as well.
You can try out all their latest video cameras, give a listen to car stereos, be amazed by a demonstration of high-definition television systems and have a little hands-on fun with the company's newest computer marvels. The showroom is wonderfully laid-out, taking up the greater part of six of the building's eight floors.
But there's a lot more to the Sony Building than Sony. Also on the premises are two of Tokyo's finest restaurants, Sabatini di Firenze (3573-0013) on the 7th floor, and Maxim's de Paris (0120-55-6291) in the 3rd basement. Also AVIC, an electronics shop (B1 level, 3571-2614) where you can purchase the goodies you've been playing with upstairs, and Sony Plaza (B2 level, 3575-2525), purveyor of all kinds of imported snacks and various gewgaws.
The Sony Building's first-floor lobby is a popular rendezvous spot among foreigners, especially on rainy days, as even newcomers to Japan can find their way there simply by asking, "Sony Biru?"
The lobby has a ticket agency where you can buy a variety of concert, movie and sporting-event tickets.
As Ashcroft reported on his site, the first floor is dedicated to the upcoming LocoRoco. Go up the stairs, passing rows of Vaio computers and on the second floor you will catch a glimpse of a BMW dealership in the showroom.
Access: Above subway Ginza Station, exit B9
Opening hours: 11:00-19:00 (except restaurants)
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Contact the author Rob Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Anticopyright February 2005/July 2004.