Beefy tomatos ripen outside of workshop on busy sidewalk

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工房の外の歩道にトマトが育っていて、もうすぐ完熟しそうです。食べたいです。

These mid-summer tomatoes look so delicious. I like how this small workshop owner always grows spectacular sidewalk plants.

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Lush pink potted hellebore signals end of winter, outside tonkatsu restaurant

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クリスマスローズという花は冬の終わりのしるしです。この植木鉢は、東高円寺のトンキという大好きなトンカツ店の外にありました。

This potted hellebore, pronounced kurisumasu rouzu in Japanese, looks super lush outside my favorite tonkatsu restaurant, Tonki in Higashi Koenji. These flowers signal the end of winter.

Who’s in your back pocket? Mine is Kotooshu.

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後ポケットに、いつもだれがいますか。私のポケットには、琴欧洲がいます。洗濯ひもは家と外の間にあって、庭のまんなかにあって、台所の机からいつも見えます。

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.

A tropical escape from Tokyo winter in Shinjuku Gyoen reflects park and clouds

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寒いときに、新宿御苑の新しい温室を勧めます。温室のなかで、熱帯の植物を楽しみながら、外の東京の風景を楽しめます。全部ガラス張りなので、外側に反射している風景もすてきです。

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.

50 plus cactuses kept by local real estate office

小さな不動産屋さんには、大きなサボテンの庭があります。最近は雨が降ると、オフィスの人が中にサボテンを入れるのだそうです。プラスチックで覆われた外にずっとおいてあるサボテンもあります。
オフィスの人は寒い夜に外から事務所の中にみんなサボテンを入れると言いました。五十個以上の種類があります。重くて危ないし、とげがあるので、大変ですね。園芸家としての情熱と苦労に感心します。

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.

Ficus vine crosses the line between outdoor and domestic space

このイチジクのつるは外となかの境界線を越しました。小さなアパートでは、いつも庭が近いのです。

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.

Leaving the apartment on a rainy spring day

アパートの入り口から見えた、雨降りの朝の景色です。節電ですから、電気をほとんど消しています。中と外の対象がはっきりしていますね。

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.