Month: November 2012

Dense planting on balcony provides natural screen from big city

今年のベランダの植物は、ずっと濃くなりました。遠くに、都庁のツインタワーが見えます。

This year the plantings on the balcony seem extra thick. The twin towers in the distance are the offices of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

Still a few morning glory flowers on balcony

寒くなったのに、アサガオがまだ咲いています。サルビアもあります。

It’s getting colder in Tokyo, but I am happy to still see morning glory flowers on my mid-rise balcony. Just above is a salvia adding more purple to this narrow space.

New greenhouse at Shinjuku Gyoen opens. A warm escape from winter.

新宿御苑に、新し温室が開けました。

An amazing, tropical place to spend a cold day. Yesterday, I enjoyed watching the park’s fall foliage through the enormous glass walls.

Seeing Mount Fuji reminds me that I am in Tokyo

いつも富士山を見るたびに、私は東京にいるなあと思います。

I am always delighted to see Mount Fuji from our balcony. In the morning, it glistens with snow, and at  sunset the backlighting and colors are extraordinary. Seeing Mount Fuji reminds me that, yes, I am in Tokyo.

Under dramatic sky, inner west Tokyo looks like a movie set

日没の劇的な空の下に、中野と新宿が映画のセットみたいです。ミニチュアというカメラの設定を使いました。

This “miniature” setting on the digital camera makes the Nakano skyline seem less real. This wild jumble of buildings leads all the way to Tokyo city hall and the Opera City tower.

Our view from the living room includes green curtain and the cityscape

リビングルームから、ベランダと都市の風景が見えます。

I am surprised that the Okinawa morning glory on our balcony continues to bloom into November. The benefit of having a very small apartment is that you are always close to the window, the garden, and the city around you.

Which part is most useful for making friends? Tanuki makes guest appearance at morning story-telling

S.C.R.O.T.U.M.の来校!大型絵本でたぬきの「ともだちづくり」の力についての発表です。
先生のコメント:「お父さんのお話は、何と、自作の大型絵本!たぬきの体の一部分は、とてもすごい能力があり、それを使って友達も簡単に作れそうです。たぬきの魅力を再発見できました。また、大型絵本も寄付してくださり、いつでも見られるようになっています。ご来校の際は、是非、ご覧ください。」

S.C.R.O.T.U.M.‘s Chris Berthelsen spreads the word of inter-species friendship to a local elementary school and leaves a gift of a large format picture book for future reference. We were impressed by the teacher’s acceptance of our presentation of inter-species friendship, and her enthusiasm to make it top news in “this week’s newsletter”. Not many families, and (I think) zero fathers take part in the tradition of ‘morning storytelling’. They’re all too busy. Hopefully the positive write up will encourage them to take a morning off from their work.

The book itself is a one-off production – a quickly printed out selection of S.C.R.O.T.U.M’s Animal Architecture submission with Jess Mantell, and Jared’s “Making Friends” photo montage. We were inspired by the enthusiasm of the children and their incisive questions, especially “so what part of the body does the female tanuki use to make friends?”. We are now in an ongoing (and legal) study with this bright 8 year old girl.

This small ship that goes to Tokyo city’s outer islands, including Oshima and Ogasawara

さるびあ丸という船は、東京の浜松町から小笠原島に行きます。25時間もかかる旅行ですが、行きたいです。

I like this night view of the Salvia Maru (さるびあ丸) ship that goes from Tokyo to the distant islands administered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, including Oshima off the Izu peninsula and Ogaswara, which is a 25 hour trip by boat with no airplane service. This boat looks kind of small for traveling in the Pacific Ocean, doesn’t it? At the Hamamatsucho pier.

Flood gate on Shibaura canal near Hinode

逆さまの魚の絵が水門を飾っています。日の出の芝浦運河で。

By day, Tokyo’s waterfront is often underwhelming visually: a mix of port shipping, older buildings that routinely turned their backs to what used to be polluted water, and new luxury high rises. By night, the water sparkles, and the city is far more seductive.

I love how this flood gate on the Shibaura canal has a giant cartoon fish. When the gate is lowered, the painted fish descends to join the real fish in the canal. I wonder why his heading is facing up. Maybe he doesn’t want to leave the city’s bright lights just yet.

Found some sun-lit boats in Shiba river, under the elevated freeway

首都高速道路の下に、素敵な船が浮いています。まだ川を使う人たちがいて、うれしかったです。

Just a few hundred meters down river from an ugly stretch of buried Shiba river, I found these beautiful boats shining beneath the freeway. It’s lovely to see these boats and to know that the river is still being used by some people.

Complex wall garden also includes community notice board and bike parking

中野の南台で、誰かが、きれいな壁の庭を作りました。あまり場所がないところにも、庭ができます。

On Nakano Dori, just above Sasazuka, I marveled at this ingenious wall garden. I love that this gardener has created three horizontal layers of pots: on the sidewalk, on the suspended shelves, and on top of the cinderblock wall. There are also several levels of trees popping up from the micro space between the home and the wall. Along with the notice board and the bike parking, the garden shows how to maximize a limited space.

Suginami ward’s giant green curtain shows positive activity by local government

今年の杉並区役所のグリーンカーテンはすてきです。

When people ask me about positive government action for urban nature, I always point to the Suginami ward’s giant green curtain. This massive screen of vines rises each summer on their eight story ward office next to the Minami Asagaya station on the Marunouchi subway line. It has inspired local residents to create their own balcony green curtains, inserted a huge green space that occupies very little square footage on the ground, and demonstrated that their old office building can be energy saving, attractive, and full of life.

Layers of new and old, luxury and public, with a telephone booth!

東京では、いつもどこかが工事をしています。辰巳団地から、たくさんの重なる層が見えます。背景に、スカイツリーとヘリポートがある高級マンション。前景には、団地や電話ボックス。

Tokyo is a city always being re-built. In this frame, you see the telephone booth in the midst of street repair, the 1960s Bauhaus-style public housing called “danchi,” and in the distance Sky Tree and a recent luxury tower with heliport. I am fascinated by the heliports on the new luxury towers by the waterfront. Are they a requirement for safety? Or a marketing tool for real estate companies? Should the 99% without access to heliports be concerned?