Month: July 2012

Blueberry bush with fruit for sale at Marunouchi flower shop

丸の内の花屋さんは、ブルーベリーの実のついた素敵な木を売っています。食用の植物は目を楽しませてくれます。

This gorgeous blueberry plant, full of perfect fruits, is being sold at Marunouchi flower shop. I love how it’s getting more common to use edibles as decorative landscape.

Tokyo Station unwrapped and glowing at night

足場が取れて、きれいな東京駅が見えます。まだ入口と広場は工事中です。

The scaffolding has come down from the gorgeous red brick Tokyo Station after years of renovation. Still to come are the re-done entries and front plaza.

Rare summer view of Mount Fuji

夏のもやで、あまり富士山が見えません。ところが、晴れた日に、富士山の上に雪の残りが見えます。

Summer’s humid haze often blocks views of Mount Fuji. It’s amazing to see the last bits of snow on the volcano.

How to entice tanuki “racoon dogs” to return to Tokyo

最近、東京ローカルフルーツのジェス(@jessmantell) とクリス(@a_small_lab) とタヌキが東京に来るタヌキの研究をしています。動物建築というコンテストに提案を送って、もうすぐ記事がオンライン出ます。この新しい研究所の名前は、「the Studio for Creative Revitalization of Tanuki Urban Manifestations, or S.C.R.O.T.U.M.」です。

渋谷で写真撮影をしました。タヌキが渋谷川から東京に入ってきます。東急グループの新しいヒカリエを訪れて、渋谷駅のDean & Delucca でコーヒーを飲みます。そして、サラリーマンに健康的な息抜きと逃避の方法を教えています。

Tanukis are real and mythic animals that once inhabited Tokyo, and are now primarily found as large ceramic statues outside local bars and restaurants. Tanukis are shape shifters, with a special superpower emanating from their floor-scraping scrotums.

My Tokyo Local Fruit co-instigators, Chris Berthelsen (of A Small Lab) and Jess Mantell (of Edoble), and I have been thinking about this subject through a contest submission for Animal Architecture and related articles to be published online soon. We’re calling our new research effort, the Studio for Creative Revitalization of Tanuki Urban Manifestations, or S.C.R.O.T.U.M.

We would like to encourage more urban human/non-human cohabitation, and are inspired by what a tanuki-friendly Tokyo would look and feel like. Here are some images from a recent photo shoot in Shibuya. Jess will add to the images to suggest new scenarios of interaction and play.

You could imagine tanuki entering the big city by river, and then interacting with the human inhabitants.

Tanuki visits Tokyu Corporation’s new Hikarie shopping complex, has a coffee at the Dean and Delucca outside Shibuya station, and encourages office workers to find healthier ways to relax and escape.

A very intricate weed grows on the concrete banks of the Shibuya River

渋谷川の端に、複雑な雑草を見ました。汚いところで、こんなきれいな植物が育ちます。

Next to crumbling concrete, trash, and a drainage pipe, I saw this beautiful weed with red and green flowers on the hard edge of the Shibuya River.

Lush green wall in posh Aoyama shopping district

青山に、よく育った壁の庭を見ました。後ろには偽物の教会があって、結婚の大量生産をしているのでしょうか。

Walking to meet a friend for lunch, I passed this beautiful, lush green wall in Aoyama. Is this the wall designed by Frenchman Patrick Blanc? There seem to be several types of stores here, plus a faux church wedding mill in the back.

Lively Green Drinks monthly event by @greenzjp held @shibaurahouse

楽しい @Greenzjp のGreen Drinks Tokyoのイベントに参加しました。素敵な@ShibauraHouse で行われました。東京ローカルフルーツについて、ちょっと話しました。Green Drinks Tokyoのイベントは毎月あって、自分で作るおにぎりもあります。

The Green Drinks Tokyo event hosted by @greenzjp and held @shibaurhouse was very lively. Greenz.jp is creating a lot of content and community around sustainability in Japan. I spoke briefly about Tokyo Local Fruits. There’s make-your-own onigiri and a lively group eager to learn and share.

Stone wall and giant trees offer rare glimpse into past

大きい木の影の下で、この芝公園の壁は江戸時代の建築を思い出させます。

This one stretch of wall at Shiba Koen, with the towering trees above it, provides a rare glimpse into Tokyo’s architectural past.

Using a bush to hide the balcony washing machine

カナメモチという植物を知っていますか。きれいな赤色と緑の葉の木で、ブラインドの代わりになります。東京でよく使われます。今、ベランダの洗濯機を隠したいです。

This red and green leafed bush, called kanamemochi (カナメモチ), is one of the most common hedges in Tokyo. I have a single plant, which used to be in front of the air conditioner. Now that we’re using the AC and blasting hot air into the balcony, I’ve had to move all the plants that used to be in front of it. I just potted it up, so hopefully it will become a thicker and better screen.

Shiho ceramic teachers and students make sake bottle character

180度開脚しているのが一番好きです。史火陶芸教室の先生と生徒さんが「とっくりとっくん」という日本酒のキャラクターの陶芸を作りました。このキャラクターのことをあまり知りませんでしたが、面白いですね。

This sake bottle character is named Tokkuri Tokkun (とっくりとっくん). The Shiho ceramic studio teachers and students each made one. I like Tokkuri Tokkun’s super-flexible limbs, particularly the one doing the splits.

Long allée of cherry trees in Tatsumi are especially beautiful at night

辰巳の桜の散歩道は、夜が特別にすてきです。高速道路を作ったときに、公園の木を植えたのだと思います。今この林は40年以上に見えます。

This long allée of cherry trees in Tatsumi, perhaps a kilometer-long straight path, is magnificent, especially at night. I suppose they planted the cherry trees at the same time the elevated freeways were constructed. All the trees in the park are reaching maturity now, probably 40 years later.

Night view of freeway snarl at Tatsumi station

夜の辰巳は、倉庫や物流や高速道路のうなり声が、日中とは違う雰囲気を持っています。夏の夜はもっと涼しいし、影があるし、さまざまな電気がきれいな表面を作り出しています。

At night the shipping, warehouses, and freeway snarl of Tatsumi takes on a different feeling with more shadows. In the summer the air is cooler, and the mix of lighting creates a slick veneer.

What happens after the stations are sealed from the floods?

この東京メトロのポスターとアニメを見ましたか。大きい洪水の場合に、駅を密封します。けれども、出られそうにないです。この後でどうしたらいいのでしょう。イラストもアニメかわいいですが、状況はこわいです。

There are posters in the Metro explaining how prepared they are for floods. There’s an even creepier animation of people moving through Tokyo streets and subway passages, while agents shut the station entrance, air vents are closed, and the tunnels themselves have giant walls to prevent the floods from surging into the station.

I think we’re supposed to feel that the Metro is ready for emergency. Instead, I wonder what type of global warming could cause all that water in the stations. And once we’re all safely sealed inside the stations, then what? Eventually the convenience stores and vending machines will run out! Not to mention the closed air vents.

Zojoji temple decorated for tanabata

夏の七夕の飾り付けが大好きです。近所のスーパーや古いお寺で、自分の願いを書いて、笹に飾ります。芝公園の増上寺で。

Cut bamboo and hand-written messages mark Tanabata, a traditional summer festival. I like how it’s celebrated in both the local supermarket, and also the old temples. This is from Zojoji temple in Shiba Koen.

First baby bitter melon on Shibaura House’s green staircase

.@ShibauraHouse のグリーン階段で、最初のゴーヤができました。私のアイデアでは、この曲線状の階段をアサガオとゴーヤが埋めます。今年は梅雨が長くて、つる植物がまだ始まったばかりです。これから、早く育つと思います。

Checking up on the two gardens I helped plant at Shibaura House, it was delightful to see the first baby bitter melon, called goya in Japanese. I think the staff were concerned that it was growing slowly, so it was exciting to first see the yellow flowers, and then to find the first vegetable! I was also thrilled to see the vines just starting to be visible from the sidewalk outside Shibaura House.

Shibaura House’s second floor has a balcony with a curving staircase. My idea was to cover the staircase railing and protective wire fence with a combination of morning glory and goya for summer. There were also some passion flower seeds, but I guess they did not sprout.

Rainy season has been oddly long this summer. It’s usually over by the end of June, but this year shows no sign of ending yet. Given the intense summer heat in Tokyo, I am certain that this staircase will fill out nicely in the next weeks.