Month: October 2011

Tanemaki project in Japan this month brings Dutch creativity to Tohoku

アムステルダムで住んでいる友だちは今月、日本で “tanemaki project”(種まきプロジェクト)をしています (@tanemaki2011) 。チューリップとパンケーキのワークショップを行います。寄付金付きを集めて、東北の仮設学校を飾ります。

My Amsterdam-based friends Hiyoko and Mark are in Japan this month developing their Tanemaki (planting) project (twitter @tanemaki2011). Hiyoko is a superb illustrator, and she’s organizing events to support decorating a temporary school in Tohoku. Last week they led a fun two-day tulip workshop at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, and this Saturday will be a pancake-making event with Mammoth School. It’s great to see them developing connections between Japan and the Netherlands, which have a special and long relation.

(Image: Hiyoko Imai).

Sunflowers blooming in fall outside JR station

十月にヒマワリを見たから、驚いた。日本に来たオランダの友達によると、アムステルダムはもう冬みたいだそうです。駅周りに小さい森を作るといいと思います。今のところ、このヒマワリたちが素敵な気晴らしになっています。

I was surprised to see these sunflowers blooming in late October. Dutch visitors @tanemaki2011 reminded me that in Europe it’s already early winter, with temperatures already reaching 0 degrees. For an Amsterdam resident, Tokyo fall is like summer yet better.

There’s currently a lot of construction around the Nakano JR station, with new bus areas, exits, and plazas to support an enormous high-rise office building and tall residential towers. I hope they will radically rethink the public space around the station. It’s the center of communal life, yet now mostly revolves around autos, asphalt, and concrete. It would be great to see a livelier meeting place.

A mini-forest would be inviting. In the meantime, this small field of sunflowers is a welcome distraction.

Mint flowering in the late afternoon sun

突然、ベランダのミントに紫色の花がたくさん咲きました。午後遅くの日光に、葉は金と赤い色になります。秋の瞬間です。

My mint is suddenly full of purple flowers. And in the late afternoon sunlight, the leaves turn gold and red. It’s a fall moment.

I love having herbs on my city balcony: for cooking, for scent, and for variety. Mint is ridiculously easy to grow, and I hope the seeds travel and plant themselves somewhere nearby.

Making coleus starter plants using coconut soil

赤い色のコリウスの形が変になったので、剪定したり、根を成長させたり、挿し木を植えたりしました。再植林のように、ネットに入ったココナッツからできた土を使いました。英語で、この小さいタイプの植物をスターター植物と言います。早く育ったら、来月の陶芸生徒展覧会に使います。

I have this red coleus plant that got leggy, so I cut it back and rooted the extra pieces. Now I am hoping to make a half dozen starter plants using the coconut soil that comes wrapped in string nets. I recycled two containers to hold the starter plants.

More balcony garden layers: flower, herb, ceramic flowerpot, houseplant

ベランダは小さいから、植物は皆、隣り合わせになっています。この写真には、室内用植物も二年目の一年草もバジルも素人の作った陶芸の植木鉢があります。こんな風に、組み合わせっているのが好きです。

The small size of my balcony garden means that each plant is always juxtaposed with others. In the center is a pink flower from an annual that’s lasted two years already and whose name I’ve forgotten. It’s in a white ceramic pot I made, and next to the basil I’ve been eating all summer. The broad leaf is a bird of paradise houseplant that is spending some time outdoors after becoming an ant magnet.

Lights and sky reflected in river make a good spot to take a break on bike

東京では、湾や川をあまり見ません。最近、自転車で西東京の近所を渡っています。善福寺川で休むのが好きです。夜になると、電気と空が水面 に映っていて、鳥が鳴いています。

In vast Tokyo, it’s easy to spend weeks and months without ever seeing the bay or any trace of the many rivers that once supplied the capital. I’ve been exploring new bike routes in western Tokyo that cut across the many train lines that all originate in Shinjuku. I always try to cross the Zenpukuji River, a beautiful green corridor through Suginami ward with cherry trees, playing fields, running paths, and a large shrine. I love looking at the sky and streetlights reflected in the water, and listening for birds.

Fall festivals along the old main roads in western Tokyo

西東京の9月の祭りは、旧街道の住民を繋げます。御神輿やお盆踊りや神社の祭りは地元の神を見えるようにします。秋の祭りも町の人々に農業の周期を思い出させます。音楽や衣装や銀賞や踊りが大好きです。特別の料理、提灯、お年寄りや高校生が集まって、普通の公共空間が生き生きとしてきます。

One of my favorite times in Tokyo are the September festivals, with portable shrine carrying and yukata-clad dancing happening in small groups up and down the main roads that pre-date the west-bound Marunouchi subway and Chuo train line. These photos are from Ome Kaido and Itsukaiichi Kaido.

The fall festivals connect city life with agrarian traditions, and by bringing the shrines into the road they literally bring the local spirits into view. I like the music, the costumes, chanting and dancing. But also the festival food stalls, lanterns, and crowds of seniors and high schoolers.

Red spider lilies blooming on pedestrian path signal turn of season

毎年9月にヒガンバナが咲きます。葉がありませんが、この明るい花はきれいです。駅の途中、緑道で季節を感じることができます。

I love these bright red spider lilies, called higanbana in Japanese. They bloom in September with tall stalks, bright flowers, and no leaves. They come back each year along this pedestrian path, and the flower lasts only a week or so. Last year, too, I saw them everywhere in Tokyo. I like how they mark the turn of season.

Perfect morning glory green curtain covers the entire balcony

この朝顔のグリーンカーテンはベランダをずっと覆っています。ちょっとうらやましいです。古い建物だけど、生き生きとしています。

This morning glory green curtain covers the entire balcony in a 1970s apartment building. I am envious of how vigorous and full this vertical garden became. It seems that all the apartments have nets, perhaps to deter birds, yet few are so well used.