Akasaka, right next to Tokyo's governmental district of Nagatacho, is one spot where the rich and powerful - as well as the not so rich and powerful - go to have fun: dine, shop and drink.
Just north of Akasaka, in the Motoakasaka district, is a striking new tower (in the sense of being just over a year old) called Akasaka K-Tower.
Akasaka K-Tower is no more than an office tower with the top few floors housing apartments, and has none of the aspirations to fame and grandeur of, say, Tokyo Midtown or Roppongi Hills. It has nothing but its looks to commend it, but for me that was plenty.
With its layered grid exterior in a stark simple two-tone of white beams and dark windows, Akasaka K-Tower has both a boldness and delicacy about it that makes for a very smart, new architectural presence in Akasaka, one of central Tokyo's bustling business and fun entertainment areas.
Akasaka K-Tower had been catching my eye for the past few months, so my curiosity drove me to Google it, only to find that it's too new to show on Google Maps, although the name "Akasaka K-Tower" can be found on Google Maps.
Akasaka K-Tower was designed and built by the Kajima Corporation, which has its headquarters in the building right next door to Akasaka K-Tower (on the far side, not visible in the photo). Kajima Corporation is one of the Japan's leading construction companies, and has been around since 1880. The "K" in "K-Tower" is for "Kajima."
Kajima Corporation, like many other Japanese construction companies, is known to collude with other construction companies in bid-rigging (or dango). Kajima has also been a longtime contributor of funds to politicians, for the alleged purpose of winning government contracts. The most notable beneficiary of Kajima's generosity is Ichiro Ozawa, a longtime political kingpin in Japan, who admitted to receiving biannual contributions in the early 1990s. As recently as 2010, both Ozawa's and Kajima Corp's offices were searched by public prosecutors on suspicion of bribery.
March 2014 update
Kajima Corporation was also caught red-faced at the beginning of 2014 when incorrectly installed plumbing in a building Kajima is constructing for the Mitsubishi Jisho property development company's "Parkhouse" brand led to the partially completed building being demolished and purchasers being made to wait for another 3 to 4 years. Read more about the troubled birth of The Parkhouse Grand Minamioyama Takagicho and the background to the The Parkhouse Grand Minamioyama Takagicho incident.
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