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.
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.
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.
This year I tried to focus on the different tribes that assemble beneath the cherry trees for hanami season in Tokyo. There were some scenes I expected, and many that were surprises. In this photo of Shinjuku Gyoen, my good friend from San Francisco’s back is in the middle, with a couple on the left and cosplayers on the right.
Even my California friends misunderstand this term. They think it might be a bird that loves the snow. No, it’s an expression in the US’s Northeast to describe often elderly people who spend the winters in Florida.
This year, I’ve prematurely become a Pacific snowbird, spending the winter working in San Francisco, where I lived almost my entire adult life before moving to Tokyo. Living in two Pacific Coast cities is very stimulating.
If you look carefully, you can see there are five different palm trees in this photograph.
San Francisco is often windy and cool. Despite the fact that palms thrive in many cool climates, somehow seeing them gives us the illusion of being somewhere warmer and exotic.
Beyond my garden, the old car dealership and repair shop have been torn down and replaced with luxury housing and a Whole Foods. The top floor apartments will rent for over $8,000 per month.
It’s hard to believe I planted this cold-hardy King palm in 2000 when it was half a meter tall. Now it’s the tallest tree in my San Francisco back garden. Below its reflection is the 100 year old, redwood “butler’s pantry” we removed from the apartment during the renovation. When I was there this fall, I up-lit the trunk.
I have been in San Francisco the past two months for work, so it was a great pleasure to receive this letter from home. Inside is the very last balcony morning glory flower of this year. I love that the stamps are morning glory and butterfly. “Open it slowly.”
I picked up three short kikyou plants at the home center, without knowing much about them. Later I learned that kikyou, also known as bellflower, are one of Japan’s seven fall flowers (yet oddly active in summer). Kikyou is also related to campanula, which spread rapidly in my shady San Francisco garden with abundant purple flowers.
In the (film) photo background, you can see the sprouts of New York tomatoes that I grew from seeds. I’ve shared the seedlings with many friends already.
I also discovered these cool black and white Japanese crests (kamon) based on kikyou. (Source: Wikipedia).