Three things strike you about the International Audio Show, held each year in Tokyo: one is the venue, the second is that it's free, and the third is the fanaticism of the attendees.
It used to be called the Import Audio Show, but in recent times it's changed a little, not least because some Japanese manufacturers are also distributors for overseas brands.
It's held in just a small part of the amazing Tokyo International Forum, with its huge glass atrium, and just a five minute walk from the main Tokyo railway station. The show itself occupies a series of solidly-built meeting rooms along the galleries to the right. The rooms are a good size, and have heavy, quiet-closing doors to avoid any sound crossing over from one demonstration to the next.
And demonstrations are mainly what you get, this one featuring the Tannoy Canterbury speakers driven by some heavyweight electronics, and sounding really rather good.
The demonstrations are run either by the importer/distributor running the room, or by hi-fi reviewers hired in for the occasion to give their pearls of wisdom about the merits of particular brands
And the music? Let's just say if I hear Georgia On My Mind ever again it'll be too soon, and in one room I witnessed the painful spectacle of jazz singer Keiko Lee doing bodily harm to Paul McCartney's My Love through a pair of otherwise excellent JBL speakers..
More after the break
It's mainly all high-end stuff, such as this array of Linn equipment. but there is the occasional surprise.
One of the most appealing sounds at the show was coming from the small, and very affordable, Classic 1 speakers from 'British sound, German engineering' company ALR Jordan. with designer Karl-Heinz Fink credited prominently on the leaflets in the room.
It's definitely a speaker design I think would do well in the UK.
And the visitors take the equipment at the show very seriously indeed. I saw one chap rocking the disc-loader on the Nagra player atop this stack from side to side really violently, presumably to check out that legendary Swiss build-quality.
Maybe that's why the Thorens distributor had the less expensive models in reach, and kept the more expensive ones out of harm's way - though he was bemoaning the fact he hadn't been able to get the massive Jubilee model for the show.
But in general this is a show with a dedicated, fanatical audience. They like to look closely...
and even get up close and personal with the products.
And when finally find yourself face to face with a particularly fascinating piece of Linn casework, what better than to make sure you have a picture as a souvenir...?