The Asahi ‘Flame’ building on the Asakusa banks of the Sumida river is infamous in Tokyo for its eponymous ‘flame’, a huge golden piece of art juxtaposed atop the obelisk-like black building; intended to represent the freedom and grace of a good head of foam on a glass of Asahi beer. It has however been dubbed by many the ‘flying golden turd’ or ‘golden tadpole’; another sad instance of too much art-like sensibility and not enough common sense.
Asahi ‘Flame’ Building.
I’ve meant to get out and shoot the ‘Flame’ for some time, but only now that I’m virtually unemployed have I found the time to do it. Then in a prime example of- ‘wait for one bus for hours and then 4 of them all come along at once’, I came back here the very next day for some sakura (cherry blossom) festival watching along the Sumida river right across from the ‘Flame’.
The Flame was built by a Frenchman called Philippe Starcke- apparently he uses this design in all of his architecture, though this is the biggest version of it yet. Egoist? Probably.
The flame is coated in gold leaf so it shines, and weighs a whopping 300 tons. Is it made of solid metal? I don’t see how else it can weigh so much. It’s big but not that big, right? Maybe though its walls have to be very thick to not crumple…
Up close I was surprised to find the black plinth-building has no windows and only one door- into a restaurant a small line of people was camped out in front of. How odd. Is this whole building then redundant, I wonder. People would not want to work in a completly window-less office, and with only one door into the restaurant it can’t be used effectively for any kind of bulk storage. So it’s just a big waste of space. How odd.
Two of the Asahi flags flank the Hi No Maru Japanese flag, all limp on a windless day.
The entrance to the restaurant, on the other side of this gold pillar.
Big cheese grater.
The black plinth.
And across the road, an ad for Asahi Super Dry.
Location – Asakusa
Entry – Only if you wait outside for the restaurant.
Facts – Finished in 1989.
Architect – Philippe Starcke.
Highlights – Uh….
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