This is the opposite balcony view, looking outwards.
The laundry line in our Tokyo flat is ever present, in the middle of the garden and directly in view from the kitchen table desk. Whether decorative or not, the laundry line is a porous border between inside and out, home and neighbors.
My handkerchief collection now includes the Bulgarian Kotooshu, one of the longest serving ozeki sumo wrestlers, as well as Asashoryu, the Mongolian yokozuna forced out of the profession a few years ago for bad behavior. Given the function of handkerchiefs, perhaps it’s not the most appropriate form of hero worship.
The best place to escape Tokyo’s winter is inside the new greenhouse in Shinjuku Gyoen. I love exploring all the tropical plants, and seeing the fall and winter park landscapes through the glass walls. From the outside, the building reflects the giant trees and clouds.
Near the gallery where the Shiho ceramic show is held each year, there’s a small real estate office with an amazing collection of at least 50 cactuses. This year, I noticed that when it rains the realtor brings most of them inside, and covers a few outside with plastic.
The office definitely has more cactuses than customers. I am delighted by this plant lover’s dedication. When it’s cold, he brings many in for the night. Given how heavy and thorny the plants are, he’s obviously very dedicated to his passion.
A huge advantage of our small apartment is that both the kitchen and the living face the balcony garden. I love how this ficus vine has crossed the line between outdoor and domestic space.
This is the view from my apartment building lobby on a rainy spring day. Because of energy conservation, many lights are turned off. This increases the contrast between indoors and outdoors.
I walk through this lobby every day, and rarely think about it or consider taking a photo. Recently, I participated in the Xerox and City photo workshop at Vacant, led by Hirano Taro and organzized by Too Much magazine as part of their Romantic Geographies series. We were asked to take photos of our breakfast and then our trip to the workshop in Harajuku. It made me think more about spaces that become automatic or ignored.
Tokyo residents are more aware of energy use and lighting now. Many parts of the city are less brighly lit: from billboards to train stations to residences. By lowering our lighting, we are more attuned to natural cycles, and more sensitive to the boundaries between private and public, indoor and outdoor, personal and shared resources.