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Looking Good for 40: Walkman at Ginza Sony Park

The essential portable music brand turned 40 this month, and Sony invites everyone to celebrate the lives its devices have touched.

Co-authored by Dante Gagelonia and Kenji Inukai.

To celebrate the venerable Walkman brand’s 40th anniversary, Sony is making the most of its extensive real estate in Ginza Sony Park—four basement floors, in fact—to showcase a retrospective. It’s not just the typical “here are all our products” sort of experience, though.

For people walking through Ginza unaware of Walkman’s four-decade legacy, there’s a helpful landmark right outside Ginza Sony Park: a straightforward but cheery statement that stands just before the stairway leading into the park.

While the formal name of the company’s anniversary program is “#009 WALKMAN IN THE PARK,” the ninth such exhibit at the venue, what makes the Ginza Sony Park exhibit distinct is its sub-theme of “My Story, My Walkman.”

Instead of just lining up a bunch of its best-selling products from the past 40 years, Sony interviewed 40 people. Those individuals talked about the specific times in their lives when their Walkman devices carried the most meaning for them.

The accompanying devices displayed with the testimonials aren’t necessarily the fanciest or the most powerful, or even the most remarkable to the general public—but they were special to those 40 people.

The exhibit has segregations by year, but these aren’t so much a sequential lineup as anchors for the various featured stories. Each story has the same elements: a name, a testimonial in both Japanese and English, and the specific device that the interviewee treasured.

Visitors are encouraged to—carefully and respectfully—experience the interviewees’ music selections first-hand, completing the immersion.

Further down in the park, past the testimonials and the minimalist skate-park aesthetic, is a more overt declaration of Walkman’s lifetime and legacy: an entire wall of its devices.

While the majority of the park is reserved for the Walkman exhibit and a pop-up store, visitors might also find it interesting to visit Game X Park, a section dedicated to interactive gaming built around Sony’s Xperia Touch interactive projector.

In the same area as the wall of Walkman devices, Spring Valley Brewery (with its prominent Beer to Go branding) is also a welcome stopover for visitors who might want some craft beer as refreshment. But as the establishment’s branding implies, the idea is that people will buy their beer and go—which explains the packaging.

Rounding out the exhibit experience, there’s one last thing of note.

For the achievement-minded visitor, the Walkman exhibit has an endearing gimmick. At the entrance, maps and stamp sheets like these are given out:

The relevant stamp pads are found in each major area of the exhibit. If a visitor manages to complete all four stamps, they receive a special commemorative “cassette.”

As is the case with the whole exhibit, Sony uses it as an opportunity for one last bit of cleverness that warms the heart.

“#009 WALKMAN IN THE PARK” runs from July 1 to September 1, 2019.