Sony’s Tokyo HQ Has A Pop-Up Tsunami Shield

When you’re building in Tokyo, you’ve got a lot of building codes that have to be adhered to; most of these relate to the kinds of natural disasters that have all too sadly plagued Japan in recent years. Sony’s Tokyo HQ goes one better; company representatives claim it’s got a three-storey high pop-up tsunami barrier.

I’m in Tokyo at the moment for the Balanced Armature launch at Sony’s Tokyo HQ building.

This building. It’s a touch on the tall side, and around 30,000 folk work here every day. Somewhere within, Sir Howard Stringer might be lurking.

In the closing moments of the technical Q&A session for the headphones, I felt a distinct rumbling. Not a problem, I figured; I’d skipped out on lunch to write up yesterday’s Optus LTE announcement. Then I realised that it wasn’t just my innards rumbling; Tokyo was in the middle of a 6.2 magnitude earthquake. The Japanese presenters were unfazed — I guess you would grow a little blase about these things after a while — but this meant that it was still top of my mind heading to dinner.

There, Sony representatives dropped a bombshell on me. Not only is the Sony HQ quite capable of vibrating and not falling, but in case of a repeat Tsunami, it’s got a three storey high barrier that rises up out of the ground around the entire building to protect it. That’s some serious engineering right there; it’s not clear if they concertina up out of the ground or if there’s three stories of rising barrier dug under the ground of the HQ building. Company representatives were a little elusive about where exactly they are.

Heading into the fading sunlight, I tried to capture some best-guess images.

It might be this bit.

Or perhaps this bit. It has been reported elsewhere, and was verified for me by staff at the hotel I’m staying at — Sony’s not just pulling my leg. Equally — and I guess at least a little sensibly — Sony reps weren’t willing to pop it up for my photo enjoyment (or even confirm that I had exactly the right spot), but still, a three storey high barrier should keep out the most determined wave, not to mention any stray zombie apocalypses or wandering gojira attacks.

Alex Kidman travelled to Tokyo as a guest of Sony.