Posts Tagged ‘music’

The new National Stadium will have to rock you

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

The show must go on: Attendees of a sayonara event at the National Stadium snap photos of an air show held on June 6.

The show must go on: Attendees of a sayonara event at the National Stadium snap photos of an air show held on June 4. KYODO

The old National Olympic Stadium in Tokyo closed down at the end of May with a big sendoff: two days of star-packed concerts in front of a capacity crowd. As everyone knows, the venue is being torn down to make way for an even bigger structure for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, an endeavor that continues to court controversy due to its projected size and cost, not to mention what it will likely do to the neighborhood around it.

Originally, the estimate for the new stadium was ¥300 billion, but mysteriously this figure was decreased to ¥169 billion just prior to the final bid. According to Professor Tomoyuki Suzuki, who was in charge of preparing Tokyo’s unsuccessful bid for the 2016 Games, construction costs for public facilities always end up rising over time, but neither the 2020 Tokyo bid organization nor the Japan Olympic Committee has ever explained that bit of conventional wisdom to the public. He told Tokyo Shimbun last April that the estimate was simply based on a number “that was most likely to be accepted.”

There is also the question of what to do with the stadium after the Olympics. The JOC is predicting that it will show a surplus of ¥400 million a year, but as Suzuki points out, this projection is based on the premise that the stadium will host 12 major pop concerts a year, and that, he believes, is impossible, unless the stadium foregoes sporting events, which is what it’s being built for in the first place.

The main problem with using stadiums for concerts, especially stadiums that hold field events like soccer, is that the playing surfaces are used for seating, which has a tendency to destroy the grass. Suzuki cites Ajinomoto Stadium in Western Tokyo, which is the home field of the FC Tokyo soccer team. In 2008, the stadium operators rented the facility to a promoter who held a rock concert attended by almost 80,000 people. Despite FC Tokyo’s protests, the concert went ahead, and afterwards the stadium had to spend “tens of millions of yen” to change the grass on the entire field in time for an FC Tokyo match.

CONTINUE READING about stadium rock to come →

Can aliens buy music more cheaply?

Monday, November 9th, 2009

I hate this message

I hate this message

For music lovers Tokyo is something of a paradise in that there are still a lot of retailers who sell large selections of CDs and LPs. In America, at least, unless you happen to live in a community where some gallant nerd still operates a “record store” you can only buy CDs and LPs in person at so-called big box retailers like Walmart and Target, and those places tend to only deal in records that are expected to shift lots of units. Tokyo, on the other hand, still has HMV and even Tower, which closed all its stores in the U.S. some time ago but apparently still has a mail-order business there.

Even more, there’s Recofan, a chain store that sells new CDs at discount prices and tons of used CDs. Below that are dozens of niche record stores, mostly in Shibuya.

Record stores are as much about browsing as they are about buying, and if you buy a lot of music you obviously look for bargains where you can. For the most part, records in Japan are considerably more expensive than they are in the U.S. Common sense says that imports should be more expensive than domestic product, and that’s generally true overseas, but until about 10 years ago imported CDs were cheaper than the same CDs sold in Japan on Japanese labels, mainly because retailers have to sell Japanese-made records at fixed prices. Eventually, the prices of Japanese records of foreign artists came down in order to compete more readily with imports. (Big label CDs of Japanese artists are free from such competition so they’re expensive as hell — ¥3,000 usually — though several years ago local labels sicked their lawyers on companies that tried to “reimport” cheaper Asian versions of J-pop acts.)

Continue reading about digital downloads in Japan →

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