Global cities

Wide streets and big skies in San Francisco

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

I’ve been enjoying wandering through my old haunts in San Francisco. I lived on this block for ten years during and after graduate school.

Compared to Tokyo, I always wonder, where is everybody? It seems they are either indoors or in their cars.

Fur matching and remodeling, still available on 29th Street

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

What is the occasion for “fur matching”? When you’ve burned a cigar hole in the sleeve? I also wonder what “fur remodeling” includes: a wash and set, deep conditioner, brushing and blow drying, scissors and thread, or what?

Manhattan has not yet been completely re-made with glassy new high rises and frat boys

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

Manhattan is mostly unrecognizable from when I first visited in the 1970s as a child: the streetscape, the people, the sense of creativity and excitement are all different. I was relieved to see this neon-clad, “handmade” cigar shop wedged between patrol car and “reasonable rates” tax preparer.

Did I mention how much I love Taipei?


Plants growing everywhere, people building shacks and hanging out on rooftops, narrow alleys.

Foreigners still confused that Tokyo-ites love wearing face masks



April is a month that attracts many foreign visitors. Again, I am asked in hushed tones, are Japanese wearing masks because of Fukushima and fears of nuclear fallout? Anyone who lives here knows it’s allergy season, and many people wear them out of a combination self-treatment and courtesy to others. Masks, normal and even polite in Japan, are perhaps the most common form of exotic costume when seen by foreigners.

This San Francisco sidewalk garden reminds me of Tokyo

The simplicity of a garden made of pots, the tiered stand for packing more plants in a small space, and the generosity of the gardener remind me of Tokyo.

Hiyoko’s seeds from Belgium have become seedlings



I think these are mini-sunflowers. We’ll find out soon. This ceramic also made at Kuge Crafts.

First article about Tokyo Green Space in Chinese: 東京都市學,衝突新美學


ペイユン・リンさんのおかげで、初めてTokyo Green Spaceについての中国語の記事が出ました。『Green』は台湾の建築関係の雑誌です。記事の題名は、「東京都市學,衝突新美學」です。

Thanks to Peiyun Lin, an article about Tokyo Green Space appears in this month’s Green magazine, a Taiwanese architecture magazine. The title is “東京都市學,衝突新美學,” which the author translates as Tokyo Green Space: The City Full of Conflicts. The photos are mine, and Peiyun’s story based on this blog.


Yes, you can spend more than US$ 200 for a watermelon in Tokyo



Foreigners who imagine Tokyo is expensive always mention over-the-top fruit. Even if it were in a gourd shape, as this one is, who in the US or Europe would spend over $200 for a watermelon? In Japan, few purchase these trophy fruit, but they are always available at places like Isetan’s food emporium.

Single yellow tulip in red tulip bed, Park Avenue, New York City


Visiting New York City the last week of April, everything was in bloom, and tulips seem especially popular this year. I love how on Park Avenue the beds of red tulips have random yellow tulips breaking the conformity.

Launching new Japanese Gardens Outside Japan website for Nodai


海外の日本庭園についての新しいサイトが立ち上げになりました。このサイトには、アフリカからロシアまで、何百もの日本庭園が紹介されています。サイトのスポンサーは著名な専門家である東京農業大学の鈴木誠教授です。日本庭園は生きた芸術作品であるため、地域社会との継続した様々なサポートが必要です。きれいなサイトデザインとロゴは、イアン・リナムさん(Ian Lynam)のおかげです。よろしくお願いいたします!

I am very pleased to announce a new website that provides scholarly and general public information about the hundreds of Japanese gardens outside Japan. This project puts online the database of Tokyo University of Agriculture’s Professor Makoto SUZUKI, the world’s expert on this unique Japanese cultural export. There are Japanese gardens in six continents, in conditions ranging from arid Australia to urban Brazil. I hope that my blog readers may have the opportunity to visit one of these living art works near where they live or travel.

A special thanks to the incomparably talented Ian Lynam, who created the visual design and the logo for the new Center for International Japanese Garden Studies.

nodai_garden_brooklyn_botanic_B Nodai_CIJGS_logo_t

Tanuki goes for a swim at the Netherlands embassy in Tokyo

オランダ大使館で、タヌキさんが泳いでいます。「Still City」というワークショップのオープニング・パーティーです。

Tanuki san made a splash during the Still City workshop, a Dutch-Japan exploration of post-growth urban life.


Edo modern at Hamarikyu garden


Recently I brought 28 participants of the Dutch-Tokyo Still City workshop on “post-growth” urban life to Hamarikyu garden. This photo captures the simultaneity of activities inside and outside the garden: Edo-style pruning of pine trees, city dwellers enjoying traditional tea, port and luxury housing structures, even an incinerator chimney.