Shrine shelters two enormous trees in Roka-koen


Recently I was helping my friend Matt making bonsais in his Roka-koen apartment in Setagaya when I saw this incredible sunset. This is his view looking west from his fifth floor apartment. It’s amazing how dense Tokyo is, and how far the city spreads out from the center.

A small Shinto shrine is the reason that these two giant trees are still there. Dating back perhaps to just after the war, these trees seem to be an important stepping stone for neighborhood and regional birds. With the clear winter skies and the leaves gone, you can see Mount Fuji through the trees.

Why aren’t mature trees recognized as a vital urban resource? How can these small islands of nature be connected with larger parks and other micro-green spaces? What is the role of Shinto as a religion and as thousands of property owners in supporting urban wildlife?

One comment

  1. I love this post, and the questions you ask. Sounds like the trees need a spokesperson, and that spokesperson might be you!

    Your questions could be a great point of departure for some artists ( visual, performance, and otherwise) to explore. A gallery showing that investigated these questions could help lead to press, which might spark more consciousness about these important issues.

    Thanks for the post. Here is snowy Brooklyn, I am admiring the beauty of snow-covered boughs and grateful for our lovely (if unappreciated) trees. I am also enjoying your blog with particular interest as I am planning my first trip to Japan in the fall. A lifelong dream!

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