Video disks: vintage trash on Tokyo streets

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

I was walking the streets of Asakusabashi in Tokyo's Taito ward this evening on my way to the supermarket when I saw what looked like a bookcase on the sidewalk against the wall of a house.

Vintage trash Tokyo streets

On closer inspection, it turned out to be a case of videodiscs. The only way I could identify them as video discs, even, was by the words "Video Disc" on one that was placed on top of the cabinet.

I looked it up in Wikipedia, and discovered that video discs in Japan were marketed by the Victor Company of Japan, Ltd (JVC) in the Video High Density (VHD) format, that the pictured disk is clearly in, back in 1983. VHD's main use was in karaoke systems. Reading that I half recalled the old karaoke systems of my first days in Japan in the late 1980s, with faded images in my head of bar owners inserting these huge 25cm square caddies, as the discs' plastic covers are called, into players.

Apparently, for the mainstream consumer market as opposed to commercial customers, video discs became a thing of the past in 1984, only a year after they were introduced.

However, this set must have been for karaoke, as track no.11, Anytime Woman, by the singer Eikichi Yazawa, was released in 1992. It's most probable that a nearby karaoke bar has finally gone 21st century digital: high time for such a move with Tokyo's electronics town, Akihabara, being only 10 minutes walk away from where these disks were dumped.


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