I bought my first Japanese Toyota Carina brochure somewhere in 2007, just after I purchased my own Carina TA60. Many brochures followed over the years and I think I have almost all of the third generation complete. Here and there I also picked up some Japanese second-generation Carina brochures. Over 10 years ago I purchased this second-generation Carina brochure:

Second-generation 1977 Toyota Carina brochure
Second-generation 1977 Toyota Carina brochure

Ever since I bought that brochure, it has intrigued me why this Carina was parked in front of a gigantic mirror-glass cube-shaped building. What is the purpose of that? Am I missing some cultural reference here?

Down the rabbit hole

It happens more often to me that I’m wondering what buildings or surroundings are used in car brochures. Maybe it’s worse: I’m obsessed with it until I have figured it out. I have one third-generation Carina brochure that I have been able to locate 95% of all photos. I also have a huge stack of AE86 brochures from various countries (Austria, Australia, Finland, the Netherlands, etc) and there is one thing they have in common: the AE86-es are all in front of the same generic 1980s building. But I digress…back to the second-generation Carina brochure.

Australian Toyota Sprinter AE86 brochure - Notice the glass building in the background!
Australian Toyota Sprinter AE86 brochure – Notice the glass building in the background!

Searching through Japanese architectural buildings

With the brochure above, I concluded a long time ago that it had to be a building in Japan. I have been searching for years on various Japanese architectural sites to see if I could find this giant cube building. I have searched the Osaka World Expo 1970 buildings, hoping to find a big mystery cube. I have searched Google with various keywords like “glass cube building Japan” and similar search phrases. Unfortunately, I have been unsuccessful up until today. The cube remained a mystery building.

Searching for "glass cube buildings Japan" in Google doesn't give desired results
Searching for “glass cube buildings Japan” in Google doesn’t give desired results

Google Bard images integration

That was until I found out that in July 2023 Google silently improved their Lens feature in Google images. They call it a new feature in Bard, but basically what it allows you to do is upload an image. Where previously Google would try to search the very same picture and you would end up with a useless set of websites containing the exact same picture, now it scans and analyzes the picture you upload. This means you can just copy-paste an image to Bard and it will highlight certain aspects of the image. For instance, uploading (copy-paste) a photo of the Paris skyline will highlight the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, the Notre Dame and many more landmarks.

Searching image content with Google Bard did give me the correct result!
Searching image content with Google Bard did give me the correct result!

Ikeda Museum

When I found out this feature now existed, I immediately copy-pasted a photo of the brochure. Lo and behold, Bard told me this is the Ikeda Museum in Izu, Shizuoka. The Ikeda Museum has a focus on 20th Century Art and was opened in May 1975. The building was designed by sculptor and designer Bukichi Inoue and was the first building in Japan that was reinforced with stainless steel. Inside the museum, you will find a permanent exhibition of artists like Renoir, Bonnard, Picasso, Matisse, L├ęger, Chagall, Warhol, Miro, Dali, and de Kooning.

It turns out the Carina is parked in the Ikeda Museum parkinglot
It turns out the Carina is parked in the Ikeda Museum parkinglot

Conclusion

I’m still puzzled why Toyota chose to use Ikeda Museum on the cover of their 1977 Carina brochure. The museum was only 2 years old by then, so it must have been a big thing back then. However, if I look at the inside of the brochure, I don’t see any other reference to contemporary art or any other reference to the Museum. Perhaps the thought of Toyota was to emphasize the modernness of the second-generation Carina. Or perhaps emphasize the rustproofing of the second-generation Carina?

1977 Toyota Carina brochure looks pretty normal on the inside with no reference to the Ikeda Museum
1977 Toyota Carina brochure looks pretty normal on the inside with no reference to the Ikeda Museum

If you are in Japan and happen to be near Shizuoka, the address of the Ikeda Museum is 614 Tootari, Ito City, Shizuoka Prefecture.