Month: July 2012

Blueberry bush with fruit for sale at Marunouchi flower shop


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


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


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


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


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. 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


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


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


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


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


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?


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


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.