The Russian embassy at night 夜のロシア大使館

The Russian embassy in Tokyo (map) sits adjacent to the Tokyo American Club 東京アメリカンクラブ, a juxtaposition that brings to mind the American embassy bugging scandals in Moscow (1979, 1987). I first (literally) stumbled upon these iconic institutions while ascending the steep, narrow road that leads up to the busy Gaien Higashi Dori 外苑東通り. Because I was returning from a night of drinking, I considered relieving myself at the construction site that borders the left side of the road. I stopped for a moment and felt someone’s presence. I turned to my left and was startled to see a guard standing silently in a small booth. I gave him a brief nod of the head and continued quickly up the slope.

I’ve walked past the Russian Embassy many times, usually at night. At least one large truck is permanently stationed outside the front gate, and the perimeter is patrolled by several Japanese guards. No matter how many times I pass, I get a thrill seeing the security and imagining state secrets being guarded inside. In the photo above, the Russian embassy is in the background, behind the bright spotlight in the center of the frame.

The only embassy in Tokyo with more visible security measures is the American Embassy, which occupies a large and valuable plot of land just 1-mile from the Russian Embassy. The street that fronts the American Embassy is blocked by an accordion fence, controlled by guards to allow only authorized vehicles to pass. I walk and run on this street quite frequently, and even as an American, the heightened security makes me feel anxious and unwelcome. With so many guards, I get neurotic, thinking that if I look at them, they’ll think I’m staring at them; but if I don’t look at them at all, they’ll think I’m purposefully avoiding them, which is equally suspicious.

I’m so paranoid I’ve never been able to take a picture of the US Embassy 米国大使館 東京・日本. Fortunately, Google Maps Street View has no shame (see above).  The American embassy is the bright, shiny building behind the traffic light (see map).


U.S. Embassy in Japan (map)
1-10-5 Akasaka
Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-8420 JAPAN
Phone: 03-3224-5000

米国大使館 (地図)
東京都港区赤坂 1-10-5

Embassy of the Russian Federation (map)
2-1-1, Azabudai, Minato-ku,
Tokyo, 106-0041, Japan
Tel: 03-3583-4445

在日ロシア連邦大使館  (地図)
電話: 03-3583-4224; 03-3583-5982; 03-3583- 4297


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