Month: April 2012

Can you spot the Shibuya river? It’s below everything else.

陸橋や自転車駐車場やオフィスビルの後部やスロットクラブの看板やほかの看板の下に、ほんの少しだけ残っている渋谷川が流れています。渋谷を歩いていて、川がないことに気がつきます。渋谷川がきれいなら、楽しめるのに残念です。

Below the overpasses, bicycle parking, the rear end of office buildings, signs for Slot Club and other shops, runs what remains of the Shibuya river. Rivers and ports traditionally animate cities, allowing for trade, transportation, and food. In Shibuya, it’s easy to think there is no river at all. What a wasted opportunity.

Blueberry flowers make me think of summer fruit on balcony

今、ブルーベーリが東京のベランダで咲いています。ブルーベーリは観賞植物でも食用でもあります。花は夏にできるフルーツを想像させます。

Blueberries are blooming on my Tokyo balcony garden. I love how this bush is both decorative and edible. But mostly these flowers make me think of summer fruit.

Snap peas are surprisingly easy to grow in Tokyo winter

スナックエンドウは東京のベランダに育ちやすいです。つるは上に育つので、小さいスペースでも大丈夫ですね。冬に植えて、今食べられます。

I am surprised more people aren’t growing snap peas on Tokyo balconies. Because they’re climbers, they take up very little room. I planted them in winter, and now they are ready to eat!

Cherry petals become dark red mush as leaves fill out. Magnificent long path of cherries.

十日後、花吹雪のピンクの花びらは濃い赤色になりました。花びらと茎が分解していて、若葉がまだらの光を作っています。

In just ten days, this lane of cherries in Tatsumi has gone from pink to a dark red, with petals and stems decomposing on the pavement. I like how the leaves are growing fast, and providing shade as the weather warms up.

Wild tulips from Hiyoko in Amsterdam

このかわいいピンクと黄色のチューリップは もともとトルコとイランから来た 原種だそうです。ヒヨコさん、アムステルダムから球根を持ってきてくれてありがとうございます。たぶん昔のトルコとイランのチューリップはこんな風に小さくてきれいだったのでしょう。

I love these species tulips that Hiyoko brought from Amsterdam last fall. They are small and simple, with a great combination of pink and yellow. This type of tulip is closer to its wild origins in Turkey and, before that, Iran. Thanks, Hiyoko, for bringing these bulbs to Tokyo!

Shiny new Zen rock garden in highway rest stop. Bad taste unites the world.

改装したサービスステーションの中に、「禅」という岩石庭園があります。円形の芝生はちょっとおかしいですね。趣味の悪い物が世界をつなげています。
This highway rest stop outside Tokyo has apparently just remodeled. There’s a new stand-alone Starbucks, and a shiny mall environment with lots of food items for gifts, plus prepared foods for travelers. In the center of this temple of commerce sits a faux Zen garden, with raked pebbles, unusual stones, and, most oddly, circles of artificial lawn. I guess the designer thought they needed a splash of color.

Highway rest stop cherry blossoms. Unlike US, Japanese rest stops are immaculate.

きれいな桜がサービスステーションにあります。日本のは米国のより全然違います。

I love this elegant cherry tree in bloom at a highway rest stop. In the background, you can see a row of cherry trees lining the highway. I am rarely a car passenger in Japan, but I was my in-laws on a day trip last weekend.

In the United States, highway rest stops have a bad reputation: dirty, few food options, insufficient toilets, and an atmosphere of decrepitude and crime. In Japan, they are immaculate, constantly renovated, over-supplied with clean toilets, food options that rival a large mall, and endless rows of souvenir edible gifts for people you will visit or for friends and family back home.

“Flower blizzard” marks the end of cherry blossom season. With a tinge of regret, it is one of hanami’s most beautiful sights.

最近「花吹雪」という表現をおぼえました。花見の季節が終わるころ、道はピンクの絨毯になります。悲しいのに、ハラハラ落ちている桜の花びらもとても素敵です。辰巳で。

I recently learned the word hanafubuki (花吹雪), which means flower blizzard. At the end of cherry blossom season, city pavement becomes a pink carpet. Along with watching the petals fall from the tree, this carpet is one of the best parts of hanami.

This photo is from a small park in Tatsumi, between Tokyo Bay and the southern edge of Shitamachi. It also borders Yumenoshima. Now that I discovered an Olympic pool in Tatsumi, I will be spending more time in this strange zone caught between nature, industry, trucking and warehouses, new and old housing, and stacked freeways.

Springtime at Omotesando Koffee. The small garden and old house make you feel like you’re on a country lane.

Omotesando Koffee の入口はとても素敵です。美味しいコーヒーが飲めるだけじゃなくて、小さい庭が四季を感じさせてくれます。春に、桜とモクレンが咲いていて、金属製の花瓶には毎週、違う花がいけてあります。おしゃれなお客さんは三年以上の常連で、バリスタオーナが東京に来る前に、大阪のカフェにも行きました。

This is the lovely entrance to Omotesando Koffee. It would be enough just being one of Tokyo’s best espresso coffee bars. O K also sells a single pastry that is eggy and square and incomparable. And O K has a micro-garden that is incredibly charming, with many traditional Japanese plants including maple and a lovely drooping cherry tree with long stemmed flowers.

The fashionable gentleman in the photo explained to me that he used to drink coffee at the Osaka coffee bar run by the same owner, before he moved to Tokyo three years ago. In the foreground is a lovely, metal sculpture and flower vase with understated petals.

Visiting Omotesando Koffee you feel like you’re on a country lane, not in the middle of a mega-city.

Spring has sprung on my Tokyo balcony

東京のベランダで春の到来を感じるのが大好きです。今年の最初のアゲハを見ましたし、鳥がたくさん来ましたし、ブルーベリの花が咲いているし、イチゴのフルーツが大きなっています。

I love sensing spring’s arrival on my Tokyo balcony. First butterfly of this year, more birds, blueberry bush flowering, strawberries taking shape.

Twilight cherry blossoms at Aoyama cemetery

青山霊園は、夕暮れの桜の花びらがとても素敵です。

The road through Aoyama Cemetery is lined with gorgeous old cherry trees. I went there for AQ‘s office hanami party, and on the way home I took this photo at twilight.

Cherry blossoms rising above giant buddha in Shinjuku Ni Chome temple

この新宿の二丁目のお寺は静かで広いところです。ここの桜が人を引き付けます。仏陀の赤い服はよだれかけみたいです。見ていると、お腹が減ってきます。

This temple in Shinjuku’s Ni Chome is a quiet open space in a crowded part of the city. It’s a great juxtaposition of the sacred and ordinary, nature and the built environment.

This day, the cherry tree in bloom seems to have enticed more people to enter. I am always charmed by the red cloth bibs place on buddha and ojizo statues. The bibs make me think the statues are preparing for a meal.

White pansies have bloomed all winter in kintsugi ceramic

史火で友人のマシューが作った金継ぎの植木鉢の中でこの白色のパンジーは冬からずっと咲いています。金継ぎという芸術は壊れた陶器を直すことです。

I love this white pansy and the beautiful kintsugi pot that my friend Matthew made at Shiho ceramic studio. Kintsugi is a technique for repairing broken pottery, and involves painting the cracked lines in gold or silver. They’re have been many continuous flowers for months, even though I never added soil or any nutrients to the store-bought filler plant. Very satisfying and cheerful.

Boat and biking on Oshima with Paper Sky

伊豆の大島は東京の品川区だと知っていますか。浜松町から船で8時間かかりました。Paper Sky Bicycle Club のツール・ド・オオシマはとても楽しかったです。黒溶岩の砂漠での日の出も優しい自転車おたくたちもローカル料理もすばらしかった。Paper Sky は素敵な雑誌で、ニーハイメディアという出版社は最近自転車、山のハイキング、料理本のグループを打ち上げました。実際に人を集めるのはすごいと思います。

DId you know that Oshima island, off the coast of Izu, is part of Shinagawa ward? From the pier near Hamamatsucho, it’s an eight hour overnight ride on a slow and rather large boat. I recently went with Paper Sky’s Bicycle Club.

Highlights included watching the sun rise at black lava rock “desert” atop the volcano, fun and fashionable cyclists in their twenties, thirties, and forties, the slow over-night boat ride, two onsens, a small port made from a volcanic crater. We saw the end of the camellia season, the blooming of Oshima cherry trees, and ate ashitaba leaf vegetable. Dai dai cocktails cmobined local citrus with booze.

I am now even more impressed with Paper Sky, which is a travel magazine and also the hub of mountain climbing, food, book, and bicycle clubs. My fellow travelers were an interesting mix of bicycle sellers, magazine editors, serious and hobby cyclists, photographers, and creative types. I was surprised that the rental bikes were all Bruno bikes, which have small tires, great colors, and are excellent for city biking and mid-range touring.

With its real world events and groups, Paper Sky’s publisher, Knee High Media, is clearly thinking about a new type of publishing beyond paper, the web, and smart phones.