Mobile bonsai shop on Omotesando sidewalk

Omotesando is Tokyo’s most exclusive shopping street, a zelkovia-lined street of international brands for sale in buildings designed by world-renowned architects (Dior, Ralph Lauren, Channel, Louis Vuitton, etc). Surpassing Ginza for shopping, Omotesando also has spiritual significance as the entrance to Meiji Jingu shrine.

Rushing to an appointment, I was stunned to see this mobile bonsai shop outside a construction site. It’s typical in Tokyo that cycles of renewal involve demolition, scraping, and rebuilding. More surprising is to see how this plant sales person has staked out valuable real estate for a shop that can be unloaded from the three-wheeled scooter’s back trunk.

The trunk itself is used as a display case, and the front of the scooter covered in a banner announcing that its owner is selling bonsai plants.

Both in terms of retail structure and goods, the incongruity could not be greater: mobile and monument, formal and informal, luxury and sidewalk, imported and indigenous, fashion and plants.

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