My Tokyo Local Fruits partners Chris Berthelsen and Jessica Mantell and I responded to an open call from Limno, an independent Italian research center that investigates landscapes. They included us in their elegant book 76 Pounds and XVI Coins (76 Libbre e XVI Soldi) that investigates the cultural and natural layers of Venice’s Forte Marghera, built by Austrian and French invaders. Our article on Tokyo Local Fruit ends the book.
I visited the architects at Front Office Tokyo, and had the shock of discovering huge estates, corporate clubs, and sprawling embassies in Azabu Juban. It’s an area between the station and Keio’s campus that I have never been to. Probably the largest and most intriguing grounds belong to the Mitsui Club.
The contrast between the gorgeous wooded grounds of the Italian embassy and the newly constructed Australian embassy is painful. The Italian embassy is hidden inside a huge park-like setting. The Australian one is an enormous modern building with almost no landscaping.
Perhaps adding insult to their national pride, the animals that represent the nation are in what look like cages. Is this to express the cultural heritage of the former penal colony? My spouse reminds me that Australia is one of the few countries that eats their national animals. Is that bad or just practical?
Inside the upscale Shin Marunouchi office tower, I saw a poster for Japanese wine outside an Italian restaurant. Japanese have recently become very interested in wine, and I had heard about a famous manga introducing wine to new drinkers that had been translated into French and become popular. It was interesting to see the promotion of national wine.