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The hermit crab is neither a hermit or a crab, yet we’ve accepted this misnomer to represent a crustacean that doesn’t have a shell of its own, but “borrows” shells. As hermit grabs grow they repeatedly swap the dwellings they’ve outgrown for bigger homes, tossing aside old ones for others to use. That’s why the Japanese name yadokari (宿借) is so much more appropriate. It literally means home borrower.
But such behavior must surely be limited to animals. Or so thought Japanese artist Aki Inomata, who was surprised and inspired to learn that people, and countries, can behave in similar manners. Under a unique agreement between Japan and France, the land for the French Embassy in Tokyo changes hands between the two countries every several decades. […]