Month: October 2012

Kintsugi pot adds metallic charm to balcony garden

金継ぎという技術はこわれた器を直す方法で。史火陶芸教室の久家先生の専門です。ベランダに、銀色と花が素敵ですね。

This kintsugi pot adds a bright metallic shine to the balcony garden. Here I’ve planted this long-blooming flower. I like the pink-red flowers, which have bloomed for months. Kintsugi, which is the decorative repair of usually old pottery, is a specialty of my teacher at Shiho ceramic studio.

I don’t know the name of this plant, and frankly bought it as “filler.” The husband thinks that “filler” is a harsh name, but don’t most gardens also rely on having a few plants purchased for their immediate appeal with minimal money and thought? Since it’s thrived so long, I should probably learn its name.

Update: The Japanese name is Seroshia (セロシア), and it’s called Celosia argentea, plumed cockscomb, and Prince of Wales Feathers and Flamingo Feathers.

Spout theme at this year’s Shiho ceramic studio show

史火陶芸教室の展示会のためにつくった、私の片口です。西荻窪のギャラリーで、11月22日から27日まで展示会があります。もうすぐ、住所も地図をのせます。

This year, for the Shiho ceramic studio show in Nishi Ogikubo (November 22 to 27), all the students and the teachers made ceramics with spouts. Everyone did something very different.

I am not sure why, but I decided to apply lots of holes, and use them as air plant “bonsai pots.” Air plants are so much easier to grow than moss and almost any other house plant.

If you’re in Tokyo, please come to the show. I’ll post a digital version of the flyer with the address and map soon.

See Tokyo by water, including Japanese garden, funny boat, & historic Asakusa

With A Small Lab‘s Chris Berthelsen, I’ll be leading an afternoon tour tomorrow of Tokyo Bay and the Sumida river for Still City, an exciting workshop hosted at Shibaura House with international participants interested in urban design.

Anyone is free to join us tomorrow, or to use the itinerary on your own at any time. I like the layers of history visible when viewing Tokyo as a once great waterway, and the current reverberations of last century’s apocalyptic earthquakes, war bombing, surrender, and reinvention. The centuries old Japanese garden uses salt water from the bay for its ponds, there will be early fall folliage, and we will ride Himiko, the crazy boat in the photo above.

Still City is a Dutch-Japanese workshop looking at opportunities suggested by viewing Tokyo as emblematic of post-growth urban life. It’s supported by the Japan Foundation and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with its local embassy.

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Still City Tokyo Program: Tour (30 Oct. 2012) — Tokyo by Water with Jared Braiterman of Tokyo Green Space and Chris Berthelsen of A Small Lab

Overview: We’ll visit a traditional Japanese garden near Shibaura House, recall Tokyo’s river heritage on a water bus up the Sumida River, and explore Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s oldest neighborhoods. A frugal afternoon exploring a few still spaces in this churning megalopolis. Spontaneous picnicking, beers from final-generation liquor stores, and foraged city food are all possible.

1. Enjoy a traditional Japanese garden: Meet at Hamarikyu Garden at 1.00 pm (Nakanogomon Gate entrance)
Hamarikyu Garden is an Edo-style garden situated between the glass high-rises of Shiodome and Tokyo Bay. A traditional Japanese garden dating back hundreds of years, this spot by the bay played a critical role in the negotiations between US General McArthur and Emperor Hirohito in settling the war and the fate of the imperial family. Perhaps they partook in duck hunting together, a ruling class pastime marked with a religious shrine.
Where: Hamarikyu Garden is a short walk from Hamamatsuchou, Shimbashi, and Shiodome stations, about 2 km from Shibaura House. You can easily walk from Shibaura House, or take the Yamanote line or the Yurikamome monorail.
Cost: 300 yen admission

2.  Boat up the Sumida River to Asakusa: Meet at Hinode Pier’s Waterbus Station at 2.45 pm
The water bus from Hinode Pier to Asakusa takes about 40 minutes. Going upstream on the wide Sumida River, you can experience Tokyo’s river heritage, and see a good part of eastern Tokyo, including the new Sky Tree. For those new to Tokyo and even for those who live here, viewing Tokyo by boat is a rare and fun event.
Where: Hinode Pier is half way between Hamarikyu Garden and Shibaura House. There’s also a Yurikamome monorail station there.
Cost: 720 yen. Boat leaves at 2.55 pm.

3. Explore old Tokyo at Asakusa: Arrive by water bus at 3.30 pm
Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s oldest neighborhoods. It has been less gentrified in the post-war years, and retains an old Tokyo feeling. We’ll check out a shrine, a market, and some back street gardening. Time permitting, we’ll stop at a neighborhood bathhouse to relax after the tour. Feel free to return at any time.

Return to Shibaura House: Take the Toei Subway Asakusa Line to Mita station, then walk. 18 min on express train, 210 yen.

Gorgeous suburban road leading to Nodai campus

この道路は木のトンネルみたいです。農大に行く時に自転車でここを通ります。大学の前にあります。

This road beneath a canopy of street trees leads to the Nodai campus from Chitose Funabashi. When I commute there by bike, it makes a lovely end to my ride.

Old business district full of narrow roads with an excess of pedestrians, shops, signs, and goods pouring into the street

新橋の細い道に看板や品物や料理が舗装にあふれます。車があまりないので、にぎやかです。

Compared to the last photos, this narrow street in Shimbashi, an older business district that’s no longer Tier A real estate, allows pedestrians to take full use of the street and offers an amazing variety of products, signs and even foods spilling out of the shops.

Entrance to Shibuya from Roppongi is a river of auto traffic

六本木から渋谷に来ている車の流れが50年前の都市デザインを保ち続けています。東京はいつ21世紀の都市デザインをはじめることができるでしょうか。

Layers of auto traffic rush towards Shibuya station. Has any global city maintained its aging urban auto infrastructure as thoroughly as Tokyo? Planning wise, Tokyo today can feel like it’s reliving the 1960s, as if nothing has changed in terms of mobility, urban design, and creating maximum value in dense cities.

View of Shinjuku at twilight, wide road and narrow sidewalk

この新宿の景色には、道路は広いですが、人と植物の空間が少ないです。もっと想像力を使えば、良かったと思いませんか。
This view towards Shinjuku demonstrates how wide the road is and how little space is allocated to people and plants. What a lack of imagination.

Mechanical claw gobbles up Showa history

日本語では「パワーショベル」と言いますね。昭和時代の家にさようなら。

Living in Tokyo you become used to the continual process of demolition and new construction. Not the ten or twenty year boom and bust cycles I’ve seen in San Francisco and New York City. Even in the perpetually shrinking Japanese economy, Tokyo continues to morph and grow. The photo is from the demolition of a post-war Showa house in Nakano, a residential neighborhood. It will undoubtedly be replaced with a multi-unit structure made of pre-fab materials and slightly customized, standard layouts.

Closer to my house, I’ve seen the local liquor seller vacate his main storefront, which was replaced by a brand new 7-Eleven in less than four weeks. I watched the incredibly fast work to the interior, modernizing a 1970s storefront into the faceless, placeless space of a convenience store. They also installed enormous heating and cooling structures on the roof. I was glad to see that the liquor store owner has retained an adjacent, closet-sized space for his liquor sales. He seems to enjoy interacting with the neighbors.

You can offer candy to strangers, but . . .

他人にお菓子をあげても、食べるとはかぎらない。「ビデオ」。タヌキさん、東京にお帰りなさい。

You can offer candy to strangers, but you can’t make them eat it. Sexy lady quickly rejects tanuki’s gift. Outside of Azabu-juban station. Let’s Welcome Tanuki Back to Tokyo.

Tokyo Tower in late summer

芝のアウトドアのプールが閉まる前に、晩夏の東京タワーの写真をたくさんとりました。東京タワーは東京の数少ないランドマークですね。「ランドマーク」とは、自分の居場所がわかるような目立つ建物のことです。

Before the Shiba outdoor pool closed in mid-September, I spent more time admiring Tokyo Tower, both from the pool itself and from park surrounding it. I’ll post a few photos of this rare Tokyo landmark in the next week.

An endless cityscape of houses with minimal tree canopy

東京ではあまり木が見えない。背が低い家がつくる模様はクモの巣のようです。

Tokyo is super dense. I love how so few of the houses are lined up in this irregular web of small streets.

Bike transportation for Tokyo balcony gardening

自転車で、新しい植物と土をベランダの庭に持って来ます。

I transport by bike almost all the garden supplies for my balcony garden, including plants and soil. The big box, home center is about 2 kilometers away.

Lots of new growth on camellia

大きい植木鉢に入れたツバキがもっと大きくなっています。
I’ve had this camellia for a few years, and just added some fresh soil. I want it to be super healthy for fall so that it produces a lot of winter blooms.

Ni chome sidewalk garden thrives in no-space in center of Tokyo’s gay neighborhood

東京のゲイに人気のある近所の中心で、この歩道の庭がいつもきれいです。新宿二丁目で。

I love this ever-changing sidewalk garden in the heart of Shinjuku Ni-chome, Tokyo’s gay neighborhood. The gardener seems to be a long time resident who used to run a shop from the first floor of his home. I love how the plants are all labeled, even simple ones likes roses. And that this dense garden exists despite the lack of space and the many people passing by at all times of night.

Sacred trees in courtyard of Meiji Jingu

この二つの大きい木を繋ぐ神道の飾りはとても素敵だと思います。明治神宮で。

I love this hemp rope and lightening-bolt like paper decoration that makes visible the sacredness of the mature trees in the center of Meiji Jingu shrine. Approaching the shrine through a magnificent planned forest, visitors sense that this place has been set apart from a city that is in state of constant change.