Anonymous Inc

The oppressive facade of the 'Le Baron Vert' building in Osaka.
The oppressive facade of the 'Le Baron Vert' building in Osaka.

I came across this somewhat dystopic looking building a few days back whilst shambling along the not-so-mean streets of central Osaka in the kind of pre-breakfast fug I’d become used to after spending several nights at a hostel that didn’t offer any. With no appetising (nor affordable1) solutions in its near vicinity I would trudge to whichever branch of Super Tamade lay in the approximate direction I happened to walk that day, for enough coffee and other life-sustaining products in colourful packaging to assist in kicking ‘mildly incapacitated’ into ‘somewhat functional’.

This looming, pale Green monstrosity is, for whatever reason, the sort of thing you tend to find whilst in the former state and aren’t initially sure whether what you’re seeing is a product of reality, or a mind in terminal decline. The building’s facade is essentially windowless, with the exception of a series of small slits (or stab wounds if you’ve sunk to my level of depraved similes) that offer some floors only the merest suggestion that escape is possible, whilst hinting that it is also extremely unlikely. It’s the sort of place in which either incredibly frightful or frightfully banal things are happening, but given that a real-estate agency occupies the very open and ordinary ground floor unit, I’m leaning somewhat towards the former possibility.

Anyways, I snapped some hasty photos before hunger propelled me lethargically onwards and vowed to do some more thorough research when time permitted, and now that time has at last permitted this a few days hence, I’m finally prepared to reveal all.

Constructed in 1992 on the tail-end of the Japanese Economic Miracle, it was intended as lettable office space, and envisioned by famous French architect and designer Philippe Starck2 who christened it ’Le Baron Vert’, (’The Green Baron’ in English, or indeed even ウエムラバロンヴェールビル if we’re doubly generous and include the Japanese (which I of course will in the futile hope that this will make it go higher on Google). The slits were, at least according to this book, inspired by the artistic output of Lucio Fontana which I have to admit, is a much more cultured origin than my initial feeling they were supposed to resemble sleepy eyes (probably not unlike my own at the time I saw it).

This Osaka based blogger took a closer look back in 2011, at the building’s tenant directory which I neglected to inspect during my brief pass through the area, and found that the upper floors were occupied by outfits identified not with store or business names, but instead with generic single characters and ambiguous, textless logos. On one floor, the presence of a symbol clearly denoting that under 18s are not welcome gives an idea as to the kind of operations that would be attracted to such a structure. Whether or not that was the original intention I’m not so sure, but as you can see from this shot of one of the interior floors, there’s no denying that the potential for low-key sex den conversion is remarkably high.

Looking at more recent, late-2018 Streetview images, it appears that many of the floors are now vacant after a possible lull in the sex den industry, and there are even listings online if you fancy depriving yourself of Vitamin D and renting one out for your evil corporation, extrajudicial torture centre, or vast library of lewd acts.

  1. “Though my use of “affordable” is somewhat debatable here. There were places I could afford, I just chose not to, pathetic cheapskate that I am.
  2. Who was presumably commissioned after his success developing the Asahi Beer Hall スーパードライホール in Tokyo a few years prior – a construction famous for introducing the ‘Golden Turd 金のうんこ’ to the city’s skyline.