Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe reportedly once said "God is in the details." Conductor Seiji Ozawa would literally agree.

He meets The Japan Times at a cafe he frequents in Tokyo's Seijo district. It's peaceful with a steady flow of classical music being streamed through the speakers. I mention the background music to him, but he responds by making an "X" with his arms in front of him.

"These are not the originals," he says politely. "They are arrangements specifically made for this kind of background music. The sounds are like pastries dusted unnecessarily with powdered sugar."