The breeding ground of some of Japan’s craziest and most eccentric people, the SONY CSL marks its 25th anniversary this year. I attended its annual Open House and other special events at its headquarters.. Started by Mario Tokoro, this laboratory  is truly special.

The event started with a speech by Chief Manager Hiroaki Kitano. The suit and tie not being his every-day attire, he looked ill at ease. He talked about how important it is for people to ‘Act Beyond Borders’, to surpass the frontiers of whatever they choose to do, and to be second to none in enjoying that very process by harnessing their own creativity.

Each of the presentations that were made were interesting, and the visitors were fascinated. The first section of speakers included the likes of Junichi Rekimoto, Alexis Andre, Shigeru Owada, and Ken Endo.

The second section boasted the likes of Hiroaki Kitano, Masato Funabashi, Natalia Polouliakh, Yuji Yamamoto, and Takahiro Sasaki.

Each of their presentations was interesting and inspiring, and I felt the fact that they are not receiving orders from others, while making things complicated, allows them the freedom to do the awesome.

The presentations were followed by a panel discussion featuring Mario Tokoro, Mr. Kitano and Mr. Rekimoto on the topic of ‘Toward The Next 25 Years’ and a play by Luc Steels, a member of the French division of SONY CSL. Titled ‘AI- Artificial Intelligence-Opera, Casparo’ , the play showcased Luc’s genius as well as the refined style and depth that we associate with European tradition. Unfortunately, I was forced to leave mid-way through because of prior commitments.

Mr. Kitano is one of those rare people who is a visionary in varied fields, who is able to understand the patterns and trends and to act accordingly, making him capable of getting results without any regard to time or place. He is indeed, one of the ‘Crazy Ones’.

I was lucky to be able to dine with him a few days earlier, and needless to say, this man is something!

Being with people like him is sure to make one feel excited and hungry to explore.