イチョウ

Before the leaves appear, nothing but vertical lines

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縦の線が見えます。若葉が出る前のイチョウ、ドコモのビル、そして自転車に乗る人が空を指差す様子。千駄ヶ谷で。

The ginkgo trees before the leaves sprout echo the atrocious Docomo tower in Shinjuku. Even the bicyclist adds to the vertical theme.

Sidewalk is more welcoming when people are taking care of it

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世話をされている歩道に来ると、歓迎された感じがします。掃除しても、イチョウの葉っぱがどんどん落ちてきます。

I like how the ramen cook wears his chef’s hat as he sweeps up the ginkgo leaves. The leaves keep falling.

Colorful Tokyo sidewalk on a rainy fall day

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古い青梅街道で、素敵なイチョウの黄色い葉が楽しめます。

The kilometers of mature gingkos lining Omeikaido make this wide and busy boulevard much more enjoyable. The yellow leaves are now, of course, all gone. But since I am posting more film photographs, I want to share some of my favorite fall photos that were recently developed. Fallen gingko leaves, school uniforms, umbrellas, face masks, and a slow-moving sidewalk bike are a perfect urban scene.

The gate outside the small shrine near our apartment. I went to offer thanks today for visa renewal.

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新しいビザをもらったので、今日、地元の神社に参って、お礼をしました。鳥居とイチョウの葉がとても秋っぽいですね。

I stopped at the local shrine today to offer thanks for my visa renewal. The gate and the ginkgo leaves made me stop.

Ginkos connect an old street with decades of layers

青梅街道は江戸時代からある道で、昔ここに農園がありました。今はイチョウの木がたくさんの種類の建物をつないでいます。廃墟化した戦後の建物や商業用の建物や住宅やさらには軽工業のビルがあります。

Ome Kaido is a large boulevard in my neighborhood that dates to Edo times when this area was largely fields. I like how the ginko trees provide a unifying element to a heterogenous streetscape of  abandoned post-war buildings mixed with newer commercial, residential and even light industrial buildings from every decade since.

Directly across the street from this corner is a ten story office building. I noticed the roof-top sports facility years before I recognized the logo at the entrance that marks it as the headquarters of one of Japan’s leading adult content companies.

Bright golden ginko against black night sky

中野で、金色のイチョウが夜空に向かって光を放っています。大きい道路沿いの長い並木のいくつかは早く紅葉して、他はまだです。見上げてみましょう!

Golden ginko leaves radiate against a black night sky in Nakano. Ginko is the official tree of Tokyo, and stylized versions appear on many sidewalk railings. This week they are turning gold. I like how in a long row on major streets, some turn sooner, and others wait. Look up!

University of Tokyo moves old ginko tree for construction

東大法学大学院の新しい図書館ができるまで、成熟したイチョウの木を移動しています。 東大は木の価値に気がついていて、うれしいです。本郷のキャンパスの背の高い木や三四郎池はとてもすてきです。

It’s wonderful to see how the University of Tokyo is carefully removing two mature ginko trees as it breaks ground for a new law school library. The Hongo campus is gorgeous, both for its brick buildings that are vaguely ivy league and art deco, but also for its stunning trees and Sanshiro pond.

The frantic pace of construction and reconstruction has left Tokyo with an inadequate tree canopy. It’s great that these two trees will survive the new building, and that the University of Tokyo demonstrates that it values its natural environment.

Unexpected fall scene in traditional Japanese garden

ほとんどの外国人は、ヤシの木とイチョウの落ち葉の組み合わせを日本の秋の風景とは想像しません。

Tokyo palm trees with ginko leaves are not most foreigners’ image of the typical Japanese fall landscape.

I love this juxtaposition of Tokyo’s most common, self-seeding palm tree named Shuro (シュロ, or Trachycarpus fortunei) and fallen yellow ginko leaves. Most people think of fall as defined by maple leaves turning red, or winter as pine trees. This unexpected combination of ginko and palm is an alternative juxtaposition of deciduous and evergreen.

This photo is from “Shuro hill” at Tokyo’s oldest Japanese garden, Koishikawa Korakuen (小石川小楽園), created in the early Edo period by the second Tokugawa ruler. This area is also called “Kiso yama,”with the mountain, path, and stream designed to evoke the Kyoto highway. This is but one of many garden scenes that miniaturize famous places in Japan and China. My appreciation of this garden is indebted to the passion and knowledge shared by my professor Suzuki Makoto who gives the most extraordinary tour.

This last image shows the juxtaposition between this nearly 400 year old garden and modern Tokyo. In the background are Tokyo Dome (right) and the Bunkyo ward office (left). Many of the garden structures were destroyed during the 1945 fire-bombing of Tokyo, and the garden reduced in size by post-war development.

Despite its abbreviated size, the garden is large enough that only later did I realize I forgot to see the rice paddy on the north side. The loud bird cries indicate that this garden is a critical nature sanctuary in a crowded city.