biodiversity

Ducks keep city dwellers company at ponds and rivers

Tokyo_ducks_shinjukugyoen
こんな寒くても、東京に鴨がたくさんいます。新宿御苑で。

Ducks are still a common sight in Tokyo, wherever there’s clean water. Don’t they get cold in winter? Also in Shinjuku Gyoen.

I mistook this rampant winter “crow’s cucumber” for passion fruit

winter_fruit_vine

冬でも、生い茂ったカラスウリが電気線にからまっていました。

This weed-like vine is full of fruit, hanging from the power lines near the Odakyu rail tracks. In Japanese, it’s called “karasuuri,” and some varieties are used in Chinese medicine. I love how rampant it is, even in winter.

Hard-hat intervention at sidewalk Sony Aquarium in Ginza. Beware of the sidewalk shark!

sony_aquarium_ginza
銀座のソニーアクアリウムで何が起っているのか分からないけど、面白そうです。歩道でもサメにご注意ください。

Not sure what the crew is up to, but it makes for a dramatic surprise in Ginza. Beware of the sidewalk shark!

Making Friends heads to London with tanuki

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Making Friends has been accepted for a tech-focused London conference on ethnography and business. This poster is a mash-up of real-time research, storytelling, and prank. Making Friends tests the boundaries of inter-species friendship while risking rejection and misunderstanding.

Please share this poster with anyone who might be interested. We are also seeking a design school, corporation, or other organization that would be interested in hosting a Making Friends talk, workshop, or consulting project.
Below we explain what Making Friends is about and the benefits for creativity, visual story-telling, and risk-taking. It also includes the anonymous conference reviews that are confused and appreciative. Thanks, as always, to my co-creator A Small Lab‘s Chris Berthelsen.
Click to enlarge, or download the 2 page PDF that  includes the poster, sponsor benefits, and anonymous conference reviews. Thanks for joining us in improving the world’s Making Friends abilities.
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A woman walks her pet turtle in the rain, at a Koenji shopping street

Turtle_Look_Shoutengai_Koenji

長いあいだ、東京に住んでいるので、もうおどろくことはないと思いました。けれども、高円寺のルックという商店街で雨の日に、亀と一緒に散歩している人に会いました。亀は足を前方と後ろに動かして、頭は見回しています。

亀は濡れているのがきらいだと言いました。だから、オーナーはタオルで亀をふいてあげます。こんな都市の動物と人間の友情はすばらしいと思います。

Sometimes, I think nothing surprises me any more in Tokyo. And then I see this lovely woman walking down Koenji’s Look shopping street with her pet turtle. The turtle looks like he is swimming in air, legs reaching forward and back and eyes taking in the surroundings.

The human guardian explains that she is carrying this towel under her umbrella to wipe off the turtle. Apparently, her turtle does not like to get wet! Thanks to both of them for adding some cheer to a rainy day.

The captain and crew shut the door of the Ogasawara Maru

officers_departure_ogasawaramaru

船長と他の制服を着た乗務員が小笠原丸のドアを閉めます。今回で、小笠原の写真ツアーは終わりです。また今度、もう一度、小笠原丸に乗りたいです。

I thought there’s no better end to this travelogue about Ogasawara than this photo of the captain and crew getting ready to shut the door to the ship prior to departure.

Elaborate send-off ceremony on ferry’s departure

flotilla_departure_ogasawaramaru

小笠原から船が出るときに、儀式があります。陸上では、はっぴを着ている人が太鼓を演奏します。港では、小さな船がたくさんついてきて、さよならのあいさつとして、皆一緒に海に飛び込みます。

When leaving Ogasawara, there is an elaborate send-off. Men, women and children in Shinto happi jackets pound drums and ask for a safe voyage. A flotilla, including kayaks, fishing and diving boats, follows the ship through the harbor. And as the boat nears the edge of the open sea, in a scene that all the regulars seem familiar with, people in the small boats dive and jump into the sea in showy unison.

Truly, this is the most jolly transit send-off I could imagine.

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Fallen leaves are purple, gold, silver, and rust colors

fallen_leaves_chichijima

3月に落ち葉を見て、驚きました。紫色や金色や銀色や錆びたような色です。小笠原の季節と東京の季節は、全然違います。

I was surprised to see these fallen leaves in March. I guess subtropical Ogasawara’s seasons are very distinct from Tokyo.

Only recent human history: American, Japanese, American, Japanese ownership of Ogasawara

cave_chichijima

小笠原の人間の歴史は二百年くらいしかありません。第二次世界大戦のトンネルもアメリカの教会まだあります。

What’s surprising about Ogasawara is that there are no indigenous people. First settled in the mid 1800s by Americans who departed from Hawaii, the Japanese seized it during their colonial expansion, retaken by the United States after World War II, and then returned to Japan in the 1970s.

There are numerous reminders of the war. Inside the many hills you still see dank tunnels created for the island’s defense. Apparently there was no land war here, unlike (somewhat nearby) Iwo Jima. There’s also this incredibly forlorn-looking, Saint George church in the main port village. I love how the entry walkway does not meet the current sidewalk.

It’s odd to be in a place with such little human history. The English name for the islands, Bonin, is a mispronunciation of the Japanese words “no people” (bu nin, or mu nin).

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Giant tree fern with unusual trunk

tree_fern_chichijima

森林生態系保護地域のなかで、「丸八」という木生シダが見えます。巨大な木生シダはニュージーランドとサンフランシスコを思い出します。

Inside the fenced-in Nature Sanctuary, we saw this lovely native fern tree.

Stylish Tokyo dog in a wetsuit on Ogasawara’s Miyanohama beach

dog_wetsuit_chichijima

砂浜で会ったおしゃれな東京の犬はウェットスーツを着ています。3月の海の水はきれいですが、まだ寒いです。

I had a nice chat with this dog’s owner at Miyanohama beach. It turns out she lives 1 or 2 kilometers from me here in Tokyo. Her orange windbreaker was almost as stylish as this incredible dog wetsuit. I think he needs a surf board. In March, the water is still cold so I guess this is also practical.

Native palm trees in Chichijima

Noyashi_Chichijima

小笠原に自生するヤシの種類は二つあります。ビロウヤシはうちわ形の葉があって、辺りの植物より背が高いです。ノヤシは羽のような葉と木の幹に金の輪があります。

Ogasawara has two native palm trees. Both have very simple common names in Japanese: biroyashi, which means fan palm or Chinese fan palm,  and noyashi, a feather palm that uses the “no” of Nakano, which means field or rustic. The noyashi has beautiful, almost golden leaf bases on its trunk.  Below, in a nature sanctuary on the east side of Chichijima, the biroyashi rise above the low scrub on steep cliffs.

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