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Shibaura House’s Kanto Tour Guide makes a stop at my favorite tonkatsu restaurant

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Shibaura Houseの依頼で、Kanto Tour Guideの杉並ツアーを書きました。先週、そのツアーを実際に一緒に歩いてみました。最初にとんきという一番好きなトンカツ屋で昼食を食べました。Kanto Tour Guideについては、こちらへどうぞ

Shibaura House asked 10 foreigners living in Kanto to design half day and one day tours, primarily for Japanese to re-discover their country with a new perspective. I wrote a short guide for Suginami, starting with my favorite Higashi Koenji tonkatsu restaurant named Tonki. Shibaura House even made a small tour group flag. I think the chef was surprised by our visit. Afterwards, we visited Amp Coffee, cookie shop Steka & Mojl, Kuge Crafts (手仕事屋久家), and the Suginami Childrens’ Traffic Park near Zenpukuji river.

There’s some great photos on Shibaura House’s Facebook page. Also here. More information about all 10 tours on their website.

Bicycle shop anniversary party in Yoyogi Park

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 Blue Lug という幡ヶ谷の自転車の店は、4周年記念を代々木公園で祝いました。今、お店は私が7年前にサンフランシスコで買った自転車をオーバーホールしてくれています。楽しみにしています。

Congratulations on four years, Blue Lug. The Hatagaya shop is overhauling my 7 year old Sully bike that I brought from San Francisco. Amazingly, the bike repair guys know Freewheel, the store on Valencia Street where I bought it. They confirmed that Freewheel, and not me personally, had originally assembled the bike.

Tokyo street gardens, new article and photographs published by Ikebana International

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東京の路上の庭についての記事と写真が『Ikebana International』(国際生け花)という雑誌に載りました。英語だけで申し訳ありませんが、是非、記事のコピーをご覧になってください (PDF, 1.4 MB)。

Ikebana International asked me to write about Tokyo street gardens and share my photos for their member-supported publication that dates back to 1956. Thanks to the editor Kim Schuefftan for allowing me to reach a very different garden audience. I am curious what Ikebana International and Tokyo Green Space readers think about the article, Tokyo Street Gardens: Unrecognized Beauty (7 page PDF, 1.4 MB). Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 24-30. 2014.

Tokyo street gardeners are rule breakers

東京の路地に小さな庭のスペースを作る方は、一般のルールに従わないところが素敵です。このブログの写真を使って、友達のショウさんがBell Street Filmsと一緒に30秒のビデオを作ってくれました。去年、ショウさんはベランダの庭にデザイン人類学校と東京グリーンスペースについてビデオを作りました。

This 30 second clip features my photographs of flowerpot gardens and stories about their makers, who explain to me how they break the law in order to create safer streets. Last year, my friend Sho’s Bell Street Films made a short video about Tokyo Green Space and design anthropology, shot mostly in my balcony garden.

Two-story shop houses dwarfed by efficient, mid-rise apartments

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現代風のマンションの隣に残っている昭和時代の家はなつかしい感じがします。新中野の杉山公園の前で。

At a major intersection in Shin Nakano, across from Sugiyama park, you can see how several Showa-era two story buildings with shops below and housing above refused to give way to the mid-rise apartment building boom of the past decades. I love the colorful wall ceramics and roof tiles and the local history they evoke.

Picked up some shade plants from monthly San Francisco Botanic Garden plant sale

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サンフランシスコの植物園で素敵な日陰用の植物を買って、電車で運んできました。月に一回、植物の販売があります。

I had a great time visiting the monthly San Francisco Botanic Garden’s plant sale, run by volunteers for fundraising. There are always very unique plants and lots of expert advice. Compared to commercial sellers, the plants have all been tested and cultivated locally, and the prices are very good. I filled a cardboard box with 12 small plants that cost $65, and hauled it home on the MUNI train.

Below is a luculia bush, which was flowering exuberantly when purchased. It’s my third. They grow easily, and the scent is lovely.

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Can stylish seed bombs make better neighbors?

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種爆弾を使って、お隣がよくなるでしょうか? カリフォルニア・ススキと野草の種の入った種爆弾を隣の庭に投げ入れました。何も生えていなくて、さびしいので。パッケージと成分表がなかなか素敵でしょう?

My San Francisco neighbor is an absentee landlady, who grows nothing but weeds in her back yard. After some pre-watering, i threw two seed bombs over our fence. I wonder if these wildflowers and grasses will sprout?

I love the packaging and the ingredient list.

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Double Face condo billboard offers city and nature, in image only

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家の近くに、「ダブルフィイス」というビルが建てられています。看板のまんなかに、モデルさんがいて、背景の半分は建物で、もう半分には森があります。実際には、木は1つも植えないみたいです。ところで “double-faced” は英語で「偽善」という意味もあります。

I assume Double Face has no specific meaning in Japanese. It’s hard to imagine the phrase being used in marketing when confidence and reputation are at stake.

Near my house is another new construction, Double Face in katakana or just Face Face in English. The concept is city and nature. But from what I see the building itself will contribute almost zero natural benefits to the sidewalk or community. Not even a single tree outside the mid-rise building. Again, I can sort of understand the concept, but the execution as a billboard and as a property leave much to be desired.

At this point in construction, what they’re offering the public is a vending machine, one of many drink machines along this boulevard.