The ginkgo trees before the leaves sprout echo the atrocious Docomo tower in Shinjuku. Even the bicyclist adds to the vertical theme.
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.
I stopped at the local shrine today to offer thanks for my visa renewal. The gate and the ginkgo leaves made me stop.
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.
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!
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.
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.