Shige works at a flower shop called Floris Hiroko, and he often sells flowers at the UNU farmers market.
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.
東京の路地に小さな庭のスペースを作る方は、一般のルールに従わないところが素敵です。このブログの写真を使って、友達のショウさんがBell Street Filmsと一緒に３０秒のビデオを作ってくれました。去年、ショウさんはベランダの庭にデザイン人類学校と東京グリーンスペースについてビデオを作りました。
This 30 second clip features my photographs of flowerpot gardens and stories about their makers, who explain to me how they break the law in order to create safer streets. Last year, my friend Sho’s Bell Street Films made a short video about Tokyo Green Space and design anthropology, shot mostly in my balcony garden.
My friend Sho, whom I met in Nakano, created this promotional video for a Japanese fashion brand called ID Daily Wear. You can see that I am wearing their super high-quality and made in Japan pocket t-shirt. But it’s cool that the video also introduces my high-rise garden, the field of design anthropology, and why my neighbors inspire me to document Tokyo Green Space. The photography and especially the editing tell a a big story in a few minutes. The Japanese translation is also superb. Thanks, Sho!
The best present I have received in a long time. This gorgeous letter, with an illustrated, fox character, and five types of seeds selected, in Belgium, to do well in flowerpots. They include mini sunflowers, mini cucumber, micro pea, rice beans, and micro basil.
Recently, a young friend was perplexed by the very concept of a stationery store. “What? Don’t you just send by phone and e-stickers?,” he asked. Some things must be analog.
Thank you, Hiyoko! The seeds are already srpouting.
Some say that tanuki is traveling down river from his woodland sanctuary in the direction of central Tokyo. On a social media site, tanuki can be seen next to the Tamagawa josui, a canal built for the great Edo city hundreds of years ago. Can he make friends, if his only tools are a mama-chari and an antique, pink “feature phone”?
S.C.R.O.T.U.M.‘s Chris Berthelsen spreads the word of inter-species friendship to a local elementary school and leaves a gift of a large format picture book for future reference. We were impressed by the teacher’s acceptance of our presentation of inter-species friendship, and her enthusiasm to make it top news in “this week’s newsletter”. Not many families, and (I think) zero fathers take part in the tradition of ‘morning storytelling’. They’re all too busy. Hopefully the positive write up will encourage them to take a morning off from their work.
The book itself is a one-off production – a quickly printed out selection of S.C.R.O.T.U.M’s Animal Architecture submission with Jess Mantell, and Jared’s “Making Friends” photo montage. We were inspired by the enthusiasm of the children and their incisive questions, especially “so what part of the body does the female tanuki use to make friends?”. We are now in an ongoing (and legal) study with this bright 8 year old girl.
I was surprised to see these sunflowers blooming in late October. Dutch visitors @tanemaki2011 reminded me that in Europe it’s already early winter, with temperatures already reaching 0 degrees. For an Amsterdam resident, Tokyo fall is like summer yet better.
There’s currently a lot of construction around the Nakano JR station, with new bus areas, exits, and plazas to support an enormous high-rise office building and tall residential towers. I hope they will radically rethink the public space around the station. It’s the center of communal life, yet now mostly revolves around autos, asphalt, and concrete. It would be great to see a livelier meeting place.
A mini-forest would be inviting. In the meantime, this small field of sunflowers is a welcome distraction.
手作りの植木鉢に入れたミニ・サンフラワーの写真を撮りました。友達の @cpalmieriの高度なカメラを借りて、最後のブログはLumix GF2を使いました。東京グリーン・スペースのプロジェクトのおかげで、写真への興味が深まりました。
I took some night and day shots of this mini sunflower inside a hand-made flowerpot in order to try out a more advanced camera. Plenty of close-ups had poor focus, light balance, and other problems of my making. Frankly the sophisticated camera’s Japanese language menu was overwhelming, but I like how these two images turned out.
Two weeks ago my friend @cpalmieri lent me his Panasonic Lumix GF-2, one of the smallest DSLR cameras. Usually I use a Canon S90, and when I’ve forgotten it, sometimes my iPhone. The S90 has great low light sensitivity, it’s small, and I am not too concerned about dinging it.
But this project is making me more and more interested in photography, so perhaps a DSLR is in the future. It was fun to pose a plant and to experiment with different types of lighting; I think the most successful was bouncing the LED desk light off the white wall.
A few friends asked if I grew the sunflower. No, I purchased it for 150 yen (2$ US) from a big box garden store. It last one week, and now it’s going to seed.
My friends John and Ruth McCreery sent me these wonderful photos of their guerrilla garden in Yokohama. The McCreery’s adopted a neglected patch of land between the road and the parking lot of their large residential complex. I like how they captured the odd feeling at New Year’s in the Tokyo region when you see plants typical of all four seasons all thriving. Plants that I recognize include large leafed taro, red maple leaves, and blooming daffodils.
Maybe nothing is more typically winter in Japan than the presence of all the other seasons!
Update: Later I received an email from Ruth explaining how the taro plant arrive in the garden unexpectedly:
My friend’s stylish bonsai composition expresses autumn with elements from distant geographies.
My friend Matthew Puntigam created this bonsai composition last week. It’s a wonderful expression of late autumn: the red berries, sparse leaves, and asymmetry of the plant, and the intriguing composition that creates a fantasy landscape with elements from distant geographies.
The plant is, possibly, called ピラカンサス (pirakansasu) in Japanese, or Pyracanthas in Latin. I like how Matt, a bonsai apprentice, has paired the plant with a stone from Sadoshima (佐渡島), an island in Japan or Korean Sea, depending on your perspective, that served as a penal colony and place of forced exile since the eighth century. The diminutive turtle is of unknown provenance, but the slate is an old roof tile from Matt’s Maryland hometown.
Thank you for the gorgeous image!