Spring Is Here:
New Audio Buff Declaration 2020

When spring arrives, I always remember a poem by Kaoru Maruyama titled 鉄pring in the North. I hail from a remote mountainous district down south in Kyushu, so I don稚 really know what 都pring in the north is like. But this poem was included in one of our textbooks, and the words remain fresh in my memory. Whenever spring comes around, I always end up reciting it to myself.

Sounds in the gorge
That masses snow from the mountains;
The rising roar of water
That thunders into our valley . . .

Branches spring up one by one
From under snow beginning to relent.
Each twig raises hard knots
That beat the cheeks of passers-by
Like fearless whips.
Woods in the foothills
Will soon be tainted faint green.
Perhaps the first blooms will be the white
Of mountain magnolias.

Early this morning when class began
One little girl raised her hand and said
“Teacher the swallows have come.”

(Translation from the Japanese by Robert Epp) 

In my childhood I liked drawing, so when I encountered this poem, I envisioned a wonderful picture of early spring. This winter an odd scene prompted me to pen a poem myself:

Everyone on the crowded commuter train
Engrossed in their smartphones
Dressed in Uniqlo black

Passengers made the carriage look pitch dark with their black Uniqlo jackets, and almost everyone was silently staring at smartphones and busily fingering them. It was a bleak scene. With the arrival of spring, I thought, maybe everyone will change their clothing and brighten up a little.

At the beginning of March it was widely reported on television and in the newspapers that the shipment of smartphones had peaked. Smartphones have spread rapidly throughout the whole population and have completely transformed people’s lifestyles and the urban scenery. Their impact is casting a shadow over our industry as well. All you need now to listen to music is your smartphone and a pair of headphones. Telecom carriers and related software makers have built a geeky market of over 100 million people, thereby presenting the audio and audiovisual industry with an entirely new environment.

In 2020 the postwar baby-boom generation will be aged over 70, their children will be approaching the age of 50, and their children will be in their late twenties. As we head toward an unbelievably aged society, the baby-boomers will continue to be important users for our industry. But I also want our industry to heed my call for a “New Audio Buff Declaration 2020” and make efforts together to target the baby-boomers’ children and the young generation.

I believe that the key to vitalizing the audio industry lies in corralling not only the above-mentioned “smartphone + headphone” users but also new enthusiasts. In other words, we will not be able to rebuild our industry properly if companies just go their own way and make product proposals to a vague target of users. The most desirable stance is for our industry as a whole to consolidate new fans and create a market there. That will be the mission of this magazine from now on.