Introducing some of Akio Morita's particular favorites from among the 'sound toys' that he collected all over the world.
One day, when Akio had just come back from New York, he carefully took a small mahogany box out of his bag.
"I've been a bit extravagant. Sorry." "How much?" "A little over 100 dollars." (The rate was 360 yen to the dollar in those days.) Then he launched enthusiastically into the story of how he came to buy it.
This little box was actually a music box, with a truly beautiful tone. He happened to drop in at a department store, he told me, and there in a corner was an elegant old lady holding the box in her hand, listening to the music over and over again. And no doubt, Akio stood beside her, not moving, enraptured by the music. Eventually the old lady said, with a resigned expression, "No, I really can't afford it," and she left.
As though he had been waiting for the old lady to say this, but with a somewhat guilty glance at her retreating back, Akio bought the box and brought it home.
If you open the lid of our grand piano, put the musical box inside, and play it, the reverberation creates a marvelous sound. It was Akio's pride and joy.
Then one day, about five or six years later, the household was surprised by the unexpected delivery of another box, this time a large one.
This box, which Akio had found on the outskirts of a town in California, was also a music box. It was made, I believe, around the end of the nineteenth century. If you put a nickel in, an iron disc measuring some 50 centimeters across begins to revolve, driven by a spring that you wind up by hand, and music starts to play.
You often see such machines with a single disc. What is unusual about this one, I gather, is that it contains twelve discs, so you can select the tune you like. Because it is operated by a 5-cent coin - a "nickel" - it is also called a "nickelodeon."
Unlike the little music box, this one fills the whole room with its beautiful sound.
We had a tremendous debate about where to put this huge music box. My husband, who could not see an old or unusual sound-producing machine without immediately wanting to own it, would say "Sorry, I went and bought another one." "Where are you going to put it?" We often had such conversations in those days.
In October, it will be eight years since Akio died, and those conversations are fond memories for me now.
Yoshiko Morita, May 14, 2007