If US audio shows are dominated by a middle-aged male demographic, Japanese headphone shows are very much not.
Fujiya Avic’s Spring 2016 Headphone Festival proved to be more similar than different to their Autumn 2015 and Spring 2014 events – perhaps little quieter (?) but it’s still a dude-fest. The median average age of attendees is lower than Stateside events, even March’s Head-fi-hosted CanJam SoCal.
The question is ‘why’?
Perhaps it’s that being into audio technology isn’t perceived by Japanese society at large as an oddball pursuit? Or maybe it’s because commute times of over an hour are not uncommon and portable entertainment devices are more of a necessity than a luxury? Or that Tokyo’s subway and train system moves more people daily than any other in the world? Or perhaps it’s because the Japanese seem to fetishise material objects more than other cultures? The country’s CD sales buck the global downward trend and Apple Music has only just launched.
Whatever the reason, the kids turn out in big numbers to this headphone show, especially on the first day where the host store offer a significant amount of gear at discounted prices. This causes a queue to snake around the stairs in the lobby long before doors open and then down the fire stairs between 10th and 13th floor once the ribbon is cut.
From there, bargain hunters are directed into another queue where hardware is paid for and collected. In between, a crowd gather around a message board that lists ‘special price’ availability. Observe:
Some might ask: where the girls at? We don’t see so many female attendees at US shows and when we do they’re often promo girls, paid to lend metal boxes sex appeal? It’s a marketing tactic as old as it is tired and it all too often results in photos of the same being held up as evidence of (token) female show presence. “Look! Women!” is the nervously stuttered message.
Promo girls are still seen at Fujiya Avic shows but at this year’s Spring event there seemed, anecdotally at least, to be more female attendees tucking into the exhibits proper. Female attendees who weren’t paid to be there. Girls who came of their own volition!
Observe the five girls who excitedly check out Sennheiser’s portable friendly offerings – think HD25 and Momentum – before playing moving to the Audio Technica room for more of the same:
Further information: Fujiya Avic Headphone Festival