October 2001

Really I had an opportunity to talk with people from leading stores in the home theater business at a gathering held at the New Otani Hotel in Tokyo. Among them, I had interesting talks with Keiji Kurosaki, president of Yamaguchi-based Joyful Co., and Seizo Ohara, president of Fukuoka-based Max Audio Co.

"We have lots of toys for children in our stores," Kurosaki told me with a smile. The reason is that many customers bring their families along. When that happens, it is up to the store's staff to look after the children. In the meantime, other staff speak with the parents and give them the opportunity to sample home theater through plasma displays and projection televisions. What really impressed me was the fact that, according to Kurosaki, they create "customer time" for couples after they have fully experienced and enjoyed home theaters. "At this point, the staff go out and leave the couple to themselves," explained Kurosaki. So they can discuss the matters between themselves. When the staff returns after about 10 minutes, most couples have made up their minds.

"My wife sells more plasma displays than anyone else," said Kurosaki with a wink. "After they have made their purchase," he added, "we have a relationship with the entire family, and they are really grateful and happy. It's a real joy to see customers who are so truly satisfied."

Like Kurosaki, Max Audio's Ohara believed that home theater brings together the entire family, which is what differentiates it from audio. On the other hand, he wondered why that is the case and why audio is not a family affair, since, just like home theater, it also should enrich the whole family. They agreed that the home theater business is rosy.

What I talked about with Kurosaki and Ohara was the "happy family." In today's harsh social conditions, the family has become fragmented. Home theaters point the way once more to a happy family circle. Through the richness of our hardware and software we have found a way of bringing about a world where people can realize true happiness.

Home theater brings together three generations: grandfathers and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, and children. That is the reason why one must not bring to home theater sales techniques that are used in audio, which is aimed at the individual. Because of the background, such techniques cannot succeed. The time has come for the whole business to act as a sort of cheerleading group for the "happy family." It was a very fruitful gathering indeed.

When I returned home, a little tipsy, I heard the news that there had been several simultaneous large-scale terrorist attacks in the heart of America. Twenty-five years ago, my first visit to New York, I had excitedly taken pictures in the direction of the Empire State Building from the viewing deck on the 110th floor of the World Trade Center. That same World Trade Center was now in ruins. The voices of the people shouting "No! No! No!" were so tragic, I felt tears in my eyes.

To me, the principles that define "earth, nature, and people" are freedom and happiness. Are we seeing a shift from the structure of an East-West cold war to a cold war with invisible terrorists? We must never forgive the terrorists, and we must win the battle against them. Despite the earlier enjoyment, it was a sad day.