Some would be glad to see the Asakusa landmark go, but others dread the idea of a unique aspect of local architecture being wiped away.

When most visitors to Tokyo’s Asakusa neighborhood exit the subway station, they head west, towards the Kaminarimon Gate, five-storied pagoda, and other attractions of Sensoji Temple. But while those are all fine sights to see, if you instead turn your gaze east and look out across the Sumida River you’ll see the offices of Asahi Breweries, makers of best-selling Japanese beer Asashi Super Dry.

The complex’s architecture is actually pretty clever. The main tower’s outer surface is covered with a gold-colored material, except for the very top where white fixtures create the impression of a giant beer mug with a head of frothy foam. However, people don’t call the structure “the beer building,” because even more eye-catching is the shorter part of the complex, which looks to be decorated with a giant golden turd.

Actually, Asahi insists that that’s not supposed to be poop, but rather a brightly burning flame. There’s even an official explanation on the company’s website that politely explains that the installation, crated by acclaimed French designer Philippe Starck in 1989 is supposed to represent “Asahi Beer’s burning heart as it leaps into the new century.” Rumor has it that the flame was originally meant to stand upright, before the local government stepped in and said that would make it just too fecal in appearance.

But despite Asahi’s efforts to sway public opinion, everyone just calls it “the Golden Poo,” since its gently undulating shape is pretty much an exact match for how Japan draws droppings. Opinions are divided as to whether the Golden Poo is an ironically amusing landmark or embarrassing eyesore, but those in the latter camp have been greatly pleased by recent social media reports that the object has disappeared from the roof of the building.

We headed out to Asakusa to check for ourselves, and sure enough, we couldn’t see the Golden Poo shining in the sun. But as we got closer to the building, we realized that there is scaffolding covering and obscuring the place where the object has sat for the last 28 years, so it might still be there. Even if it is, though, this could be a sign that Asahi is getting ready to dismantle and remove the installation, something that detractors have been hoping would be done to avoid embarrassment before the expected influx of foreign visitors to the city for the 2020 Olympics.

At the same time, though, fans of the Golden Poo were startled by the development, and to get to the bottom of things, we gave Asahi’s customer service hotline a call.

SoraNews24: “Hello. We’re not calling about a product necessarily, but it seems like the golden object is missing from the top of your headquarters. Could you tell us why?”

Asahi: “Ah, yes. First, by no means are we taking it down. Currently we’re repainting it, and the entire object is covered with a sheet during the process.”

SoraNews24: “Oh, So it’s just that we can’t see it. The object is still there, right?”

Asahi: “That’s exactly right. And not being able to see it is only a temporary situation.”

SoraNews24: “OK. By the way, when will you be done painting the Golden Poo-er, the object, we mean.”

Asahi: “The process is scheduled to be compete sometime in mid-December. We hope you’ll enjoy seeing it in its new, even more beautiful state.”

So yes, Asahi is indeed polishing a turd, and it sounds like it’ll be greeting visitors to the neighborhood for years to come, including during the Olympic Games. In the meantime, if you’re dying to see some poo in Tokyo, you’ll just have to keep your fingers crossed that some train station deuce dropper strikes again, or maybe pick up a pack of Japan’s new poo candies.

Photos ©RocketNews24
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