Tokyo

Costumed superhero cleans up debased Nihonbashi, once the center of all Japan

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満月マンというスーパーヒーローの仕事道具は、ほうきとちり取りです。暑い日でも、支持者と一緒にほうきとちり取りを持ってきます。昔は、日本橋は日本国道路元標でしたが、オリンピックの開発後は、とても品格がなくなってしまいました。満月マンのおかげできれいになりそうです。どうもありがとう。m(_ _)m @mangetsu_man

This superhero’s tools are a broom and a dustpan. Mangetsuman even works on the hottest summer days. He explains his vision came to him in a dream, and he inspires others to also assemble here with broom and dustpan.

Most of his fans get his superhero business card. He gave me a micro-box of lemon drops. Special!

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Blame the last Olympics for the freeway running on top of Nihonbashi bridge. Mangetsuman, a costumed cleaning superhero, armed with broom and dustpan, had a dream one night and decided to take on the mission of cleaning up the bridge.

Tokyo Green Space appears in LiVES magazine current issue (in Japanese)

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久家衆生さんのおかげで、最新号の『LiVES』に東京グリーンスペースについての記事と写真が載りました。

Thanks to Shu Kuge, LiVES magazine published a two page article with original photographs about Tokyo Green Space in their current issue.

Nakano and Koenji are nowhere in the new Tokyo Metro tourist poster

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外国人の観光客のために、シンプルな東京メトロの新しい地図ができました。観光客は山手線ばかりを使ってしまいます。中野と高円寺が入っていません。

Tokyo Metro, in one of its first large communication efforts for foreigners, has helpfully simplified Tokyo transit for those ready to go beyond the Yamanote JR loop line and the Sobu-Chuo metro commuter lines. Cool Tokyo, Night Life, Metropolitan Luxury, and Cultural Fusion are newly invented geographies with some suggested destinations.

I am secretly glad not to see Nakano and Koenji on the map. We can be “off the radar. I also wonder how well the tiny interactive Journey Planner works. The initial screen looks like the map threw up on itself in four languages. I guess it’s a start.

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Comic artist Shu Kuge creates new Tokyo – San Francisco map for Social Models

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もう紹介したかもしれないのですが、Shu Kugeという漫画家がこの地図を描いてくれました。13年前、初めて作ったビジネスのホームページにも素敵な地図とスタッフの似顔絵を描いてくれました。今回も地図を描いてもらって嬉しいです。「ソーシャル・モデルズ」は東京とサンフランシスコをつなぐデザイン・リサーチ会社です。

Maybe you have seen this already? Comic artist Shu Kuge made this map showing how the ocean connects Tokyo and San Francisco. For my first business website thirteen years ago, Shu drew a very memorable office map and staff avatars. I am lucky that he has created something new for Social Models, my new design research studio that is co-located in these two great port cities.

Launching Social Models, a design research studio in Tokyo & San Francisco

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クライアントの依頼例:ベンダー・営業チームとのコミュニケーションを向上させてほしい。

 

Tokyo Green Spaceと平行して、私が関わっている仕事を紹介させてください。デザイン人類学者として、コンサルティングをしています。会社名は、SOCIAL MODELS「ソーシャル・モデルズ」。クライアントの多くが企業・大学・芸術機関です。最新のホームページを立ち上げました。東京とヨーロッパで活躍するデザイナー、ルイス・メンドにデザインしてもらいました。ホームページには、リサーチの視点が写真と一緒に紹介されています。是非、寄ってください!

As many of you know, my “day job” is as a design anthropologist working with corporations, universities, and arts organizations. Recently, I re-formed my thirteen year consulting company as Social Models. Thanks to the amazing designer, Tokyo resident Luis Mendo, the new site’s images combine my love of photography and offbeat urban stories to show how design research rests on close observation and makes new opportunities visible.  I can’t thank Luis enough for his skills at helping me communicate my passion for research and design in Tokyo and San Francisco.

 

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.

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.

Let’s cover Tokyo in winter lavender

東京を冬のラベンダーでいっぱいにしよう。

It’s the second day of the new year. I am enjoying the blue sky and the realization that there is so much winter gardening that you can do on a Tokyo balcony. This lavender continues to bloom under the clothes rack. I can enjoy the beautiful color from my kitchen desk, and my clothes can brush up against the scented leaves as they dry.

Tokyo has a special feeling during the first days of the year, when many residents are still celebrating the holiday with their families outside the mega-city. In this quiet time, I wonder about covering a Tokyo building with lavender plants, or creating small lavender city farms on a scale large enough to allow Tokyoites and international visitors to bring lavender gifts home to their families.

Image of Tokyo residential vegetable garden in 1944

Tokyo residential vegetable garden in 1944

This is an image of a residential vegetable garden during the war in Tokyo from March 1944, published by Life Magazine. It comes from an amazing urban agriculture website called City Farmer, out of Vancouver, Canada.

United States residents are aware of our country’s World War II “victory gardens,” recently revived by the Obama White House. Yet somehow seeing a similar war-time image in Tokyo, shortly before the city was decimated by fire bombs, is surprising.

In times of war and scarcity, urban residents naturally turned to growing food in their gardens. Are today’s combination of unemployment and climate change enough to generate an equally widespread movement in global cities today? What skills have urban residents lost? What governmental and non-governmental resources could make urban agriculture a significant source of food?

Some images of the Obama’s White House garden after the jump.

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Urban National Forest

Tenderloin National Forest

In one of the densest, poorest and most dangerous San Francisco neighborhoods, a university class and an art gallery have created what they dub the Tenderloin National Forest. A San Francisco State University class and The Luggage Store Gallery have created a much needed green space, and appropriated the name and logo of the national forest service.

Tenderloin National Forest

On the other side of the Atlantic, class spectrum and new versus old developments, today I also read about Vauban, a new suburb in Germany that puts cars in collective garages on the periphery and devotes its narrow alleys to pedestrians and bicycles. It is a new development on an old military base, connected to the city of Freiburg by tram. And it is planned to reduce global warming and to improve the residents’ quality of life. 

Vauban, a new German suburb

The funny thing is that this new suburb’s street priorities are not that different than most of residential Tokyo.

Why green cities?

Green cities, where the urban forest replaces concrete slabs, are receiving new support from city governments and corporations. The Tokyo Municipal Government announced many exciting green city initiatives starting in 2006 in a ten year plan for transforming the city in its bid for the 2016 Olympics. Other motivations include climate change, heat island effect, energy efficiency, and tourism.

Japanese governments and corporations are begining to promote their leadership in green cities for a global audience. It is a pleasure to see Hitachi, a sponsor of Tokyo Green Space, promoting environmental diplomacy in China. Under Hitachi’s China Energy Conservation and Environment Commercialization Promotion, Hitachi activities include sharing water treatment technologies with Sichuan University and hosting an “eco-cities” conference with Chinese government organizations and corporations.

Hitachi CEO Kawamura Takashi is backing an unprecedented 2025 Environmental Vision in which Hitachi products will reduce global CO2 emissions by 100 million tons. This ambitious vision seeks a 50% reduction from 2000 levels. And to provide a concrete idea of the size of this committment, Hitachi explains that eliminating 100 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions would require a new cedar forest of 130,000 square kilometers, or one third the size of all of Japan.

Hitachi's image of forest required to eliminate 100 million tons of CO2

Hitachi’s bold plans suggest that reversing climate change is not a charitable gesture but essential to its business success in a global marketplace. Rather than seeing trade-offs, Hitachi envisions “harmonious coexistence of environmental preservation and economic growth.” 

Efforts to reduce carbon dioxide and promote the environment must of necessity focus on cities. According to the United Nations Population Fund, in 2008 more than half the world’s population, 3.3 billion, were living in cities. If the 20th century saw urban global populations rise from 220 million to 2.8 billion, the rate is now only increasing. By 2030, almost 5 billion people will be living in urban areas, with the largest growth rates in Africa and Asia. The UNPF estimates that in 2030, more than 80% of urban residents will be in the developing world.

If designed well, the city of the future promises to be most sustainable environment for the world’s population. It is exciting to see how Japan, with its 30+ years in energy efficiency and bold new ideas, is becoming a global leader in smart growth, technology and the environment.

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Umi no mori: What if a forest is created and no one knows?

Umi no mori, Sea Forest, wind passage, Tokyo

What if an urban forest is being built in Tokyo and no one knows?

In the past weeks, I have met with a Tokyo Metropolitan planner, the Mori Building press department, a foreign real estate developer, a University of Tokyo environmental scientist, a clean energy entrepreneur, and a visiting artist-in-residence working on urban farming. In the next days, I’ll also be meeting with a Tokyo architect and a senior Hitachi representative.

At this early stage in my project, one thing that has become clear is how little known some of Tokyo’s most innovative projects are among real estate professionals, cultural leaders and ordinary citizens. I have been surprised how few people in Tokyo know about Ando Tadao’s plan to create a forest in the sea, called Umi no mori, with half a million trees built over 88 hectares of landfill in the Tokyo bay.

Initiated in 2007 as part of the ten year plan to re-make the city in part to compete for the 2016 Olympics, this Sea Forest project aims to clean the city’s air, reduce the heat island effect, involve elementary school children, and provide cool breezes throughout the city in summer.

The land is built on top of 12.3 million tons of municipal waste buried from 1973 to 1987, topped with alternating layers of refuse and cover soil, originating at no cost from water purification plants, sewage sludge, city park and street tree compost.

Resoil for Umi no Mori, Sea Forest

There are also ambitious plans to involve elementary school children with growing seedlings and planting them in the new forest.

Umi no mori, Sea Forest, kids planting and growing seedlings

And here’s Tado Ando’s inspiring message about this project’s importance for Tokyo and the world’s connection with the environment:

Umi-no-Mori ( Sea Forest) will become a symbol of our recycling-oriented society through which Japan, a country that has a tradition of living hand-in-hand with nature, can make an appeal to the world about the importance of living in harmony with the environment. In view of the fact that landfills exist in all corners of the world, I perceive this island as a forest that belongs not just to Tokyo, but to the world, and through this project, wish to communicate the message of “living in harmony with nature.”

「海の森」は東京の森ではなく地球の森として、世界へ向けて、「自然とともに生きる」というメッセージを届けることができると考えています。かつて焼け野原になった街・東京は、先人たちの努力によって復興されました。今度は私たちの手で緑豊かな森をつくり、次世代の子供たちに美しい自然を愛でる心を伝えたいと考えています。未来の東京、日本そして地球のために、皆さん一人一人の「志」をどうか募金に託してください。

Perhaps the Tokyo government does not want to spend too much money on publicizing their activities, with the idea that it’s better to act than talk. However, this enormous public work project seems like a great opportunity to educate Tokyo residents and the world about the positive activities city governments are taking on behalf of people and the environment.

To read more about Umi no Mori:
http://www.uminomori.metro.tokyo.jp/index_e.html (English)
http://www.uminomori.metro.tokyo.jp/index.html (日本語)