By Etsuo Kono / Japan News Staff WriterIn the central Ginza district of Tokyo, Sony Corp. will open a new urban park facility called Ginza Sony Park on Thursday. The park will provide various opportunities to entertain visitors from both Japan and abroad in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. The new spot will be open for recreation and refreshment through the autumn of 2020.
The company, which has recovered from sluggish business performance, plans to utilize the park to present entertainment, including live music and other special events, to make the venue a symbol of the beginning of a new era for Sony.
Ginza Sony Park covers 707 square meters and is built on the site of the former Sony Building, which had operated for about 50 years from 1966. The park has one floor above ground and five underground floors with an uncovered stairwell connecting the first underground floor to the third underground floor.
The theme of the new site is to be an “ever-changing park,” in which various events will be held for limited periods without any fixed exhibition spaces. For one of the major opening events, an underground roller skating space will open from Thursday through Sept. 24. Visitors can also enjoy live music performances on Friday nights and other events, such as a garden-style shop where visitors can browse and buy planted trees and flowers specially collected from all over the world.
After the autumn of 2020, Sony plans to construct a new Sony Building on the site for completion in 2022 while maintaining the park theme.
“The notion of creating a park in the center of Tokyo’s bustling, glitzy Ginza district may sound unthinkable to some, but not for Sony,” Sony Corp. Chairman Kazuo Hirai stressed to The Japan News.
Hirai started the project to reimagine the Sony Building in 2013, soon after he became president of Sony Corp.
“At Sony, creativity and innovation is in our DNA,” Hirai said. “I believe the Ginza Sony Park is a great example of our ability to bring groundbreaking, unique ideas to fruition, and inspire people in ways that they have never experienced.”
Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games, commercial complexes have opened one after another in the Ginza district, Japan’s most prestigious shopping area.
“While various buildings have been built here and there in Tokyo, I wondered if we could build ‘nothing.’ Could it be our option?” said Sony Enterprise Co. President Daisuke Nagano, who is in charge of the project.
The former Sony Building had a public space dubbed “the garden of Ginza” initiated by Sony’s cofounder Akio Morita.
“After interpreting the concept of a modern facility open to the public, we came up with the idea of the park,” Nagano said. “It could become an interface in which visitors feel the Sony style.”
Over the years, Sony has released many successful products, such as the high-resolution Trinitron TV and the Walkman portable music player. From the 2000s, however, its business performance deteriorated. The total loss of the TV operation mounted to around ¥800 billion for the 10 years since fiscal 2004. Hirai promoted the selection and concentration of Sony’s business operations. This eventually led to growth in its operations of expertise, such as image sensors and home video game consoles.
“Stepping back for a moment, taking a deep breath, and looking up to immerse yourself in the blue sky — all from the very center of downtown Ginza — I hope that Ginza Sony Park will bring new perspectives to the way visitors see and experience Ginza, and of course to the way that they perceive Sony,” Hirai added.