I must congratulate our Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manolo Lopez for the book History and Heritage of the Kudan: The Official Residence of the Philippine Ambassador to Japan, which was successfully unveiled in Tokyo last November. The book was equally well received during its local launch at the Rockwell last Tuesday, with members of the diplomatic corps and business community in attendance.
The book details — in engaging narrative written by historian Ambeth Ocampo — the rich heritage and history of the prime property in Tokyo with its 80-year-old mansion that was originally owned by BaronZenjiro Yasuda, the great grandfather of musician Yoko Ono.
And to think we almost lost the Kudan because there were plans to sell it and our other patrimonial properties in Tokyo during the previous administration. In fact, the Nanpeidai property located in a prime shopping and entertainment district in Tokyo was sold in 2008 to a Japanese consortium. But thanks in large part to the efforts of Ambassador Lopez with support from Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, the government was able to successfully recover it in June 2013.
The design of the official residence of the Philippine Ambassador to Japan is reminiscent of the Spanish colonial style favored by the members of the Japanese upper class during the 1930s. It even has a watchtower where one can have a very good view of Mt. Fuji. And while the interiors have since been renovated, the façade has maintained the original design.
The property was purchased in 1944 during the time of President Jose P. Laurel for the price of ¥1 million, and served both as chancery and residence at the close of World War II. In March last year, the National Historical Commission of the Philippines declared the Kudan residence as a “National Historical Landmark” — the first to be designated as such outside the Philippines — confirming its stature as a valuable part of our national patrimony that should be treasured and preserved. Photos by Ramon Joseph J. Ruiz