By Ignatius Koh
Japan is electronics, and electronics are Japan. For tourists, checking out an electronics shop is one of the many things on the "to do" list. While Tokyo gives us more choices than we know what to do with, one of the best experiences is visiting the flagship store of Japan's most recognizable name: Sony. In the heart of Ginza, the Sony Store gives you the best shopping experience of all the electronics stores around, including the much-heralded Akihabara district. The Sony Store has style, atmosphere, demonstrations, and is a great place to just meander.
The shop has everything: cameras, TVs, computers, audio equipment, video games, and so much more. Not only does the Sony Store have the full, comprehensive range of their products, it also includes prototypes of products that have yet to hit the market. For Japan residents, there's even a section of strictly "overseas models" that can't normally be bought here. For tourists, there is a special "Tax Free Floor" that features products that can be purchased without having to pay Japan's sales tax if you bring your overseas passport. Services include battery charging, overseas warranty service, and there are plenty of English- and Chinese-speaking staff members on hand. This is everything you want, and plenty of things you didn't even know you wanted.
What separates the Sony Store from its competitors is the atmosphere. The building is sleek, cool, and modern, with every detail taken into consideration. TVs and audio equipment are set up in model living rooms. Cameras are set up in front of detailed scenery to test their quality and depth perception. Interactive games and trials are everywhere.
Perhaps the coolest feature in the musical staircase leading up from the basement access to the subway station. Each step is set so that standing on it cues a sound as is from a piano key, and the step lights up (see the above video). The building has also been famous for its outdoor Christmas displays, including a huge screen mounted that displays the images of people passing by on the street with lights and Christmas designs over them.
The Sony Showroom and Store are located from 1F-4F in the Sony Building, which is located in Ginza, Tokyo. It is a 5-minute walk from Yurakucho Station (JR Yamanote, JR Keihin-Tohoku, and Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Lines). It is also directly connected to Exit B9 of Ginza Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza, Marunouchi, and Hibiya Lines) for those cold or rainy days when you don't feel like walking outside. It is open from 11:00-19:00 daily.
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