小さい

Pomegranate fruit getting ripe in small Aoyama shrine


青山の小さな神社に、ザクロ果実がだんだん熟してきています。

This tiny shrine in crowded Aoyama, next to the Comme des Garcons flagship store, is full of trees, including a mature pomegranate tree. I must remember to come back and try one of these fruits.

Can you spot the tiny cucumber taking shape?

小さいキュウリが見えますか。グリーンカーテンにぴったりの植物だと思います。

Cucumbers grow quickly, and they are easy to attach to the green curtain.

Blueberries are packed with flavor

ベランダのブルーベリーのフルーツは小さいのに、とても美味しいです。

We have several blueberry bushes on the balcony. The fruits are small and full of flavor. I wish I had enough to make a blueberry pie.

Small and multifunctional space makes gardening fun

このベランダは小さいのに、多機能です。庭に加えて、洗濯機も物干用のロープもエアコンもあります。普通の東京ベランダです。

Our Tokyo balcony, like everyone’s, is a multi-purpose space: washing machine, clothes line, air conditioner. I like the constraint of gardening in a small space. There’s room for one tiny kid’s chair, and the blue bucket and ladle are what I use to water the garden.

Balcony green pepper. It’s miniature perfection.

きれいなピーマンがゆっくりと育っています。たぶん、そのまま、小さいのを食べたほうがいいかもしれません。

This green pepper is growing slowly. Maybe I should just eat it now as a miniature vegetable?

Tokyo micro-farm has two long rows of snap peas

世田谷区の住宅の間にある小さい畑に、長くて素敵なスナックエンドウの棚があります。花も野菜も格子のアーチもすばらしいと思います。家で一年中食べられるように、今私は収穫を終わったスナックエンドウを抜いて、そこにキュウリを植えました。

I stopped to admire these two rows of snap peas growing in a micro-farm between the houses. I love the trellis work, and the combination of white flowers and green vegetable.

I was on my bike riding to Nodai (Tokyo University of Agriculture), and cutting across Suginami and Setagaya on this unusually straight, narrow road. I believe there’s a sewer line underneath which makes this long street especially useful above and below ground.

On my balcony, I am going to do a final snap pea harvest this week. The leaves are turning moldy so I think now’s the finish line for this winter crop. I already started some cucumber plants to take over in the summer. I train them on the railing, and then, above that, a net.

Snap peas are surprisingly easy to grow in Tokyo winter

スナックエンドウは東京のベランダに育ちやすいです。つるは上に育つので、小さいスペースでも大丈夫ですね。冬に植えて、今食べられます。

I am surprised more people aren’t growing snap peas on Tokyo balconies. Because they’re climbers, they take up very little room. I planted them in winter, and now they are ready to eat!

Springtime at Omotesando Koffee. The small garden and old house make you feel like you’re on a country lane.

Omotesando Koffee の入口はとても素敵です。美味しいコーヒーが飲めるだけじゃなくて、小さい庭が四季を感じさせてくれます。春に、桜とモクレンが咲いていて、金属製の花瓶には毎週、違う花がいけてあります。おしゃれなお客さんは三年以上の常連で、バリスタオーナが東京に来る前に、大阪のカフェにも行きました。

This is the lovely entrance to Omotesando Koffee. It would be enough just being one of Tokyo’s best espresso coffee bars. O K also sells a single pastry that is eggy and square and incomparable. And O K has a micro-garden that is incredibly charming, with many traditional Japanese plants including maple and a lovely drooping cherry tree with long stemmed flowers.

The fashionable gentleman in the photo explained to me that he used to drink coffee at the Osaka coffee bar run by the same owner, before he moved to Tokyo three years ago. In the foreground is a lovely, metal sculpture and flower vase with understated petals.

Visiting Omotesando Koffee you feel like you’re on a country lane, not in the middle of a mega-city.

Year round flowers in Tokyo

東京には四季があるけれど、冬も花がよく見られます。駅に行く途中で、この白色のツバキの前を通ります。庭が小さいのに、いっぱい植物を育てていて、どの季節もきれいです。

I like how Tokyo has four seasons, but even in winter there are flowers. This well trimmed camellia is part of a wonderful residential garden that I pass on my way to the JR station. The space is small, but the gardener has dozens of species that are attractive in all season.

Sunflowers blooming in fall outside JR station

十月にヒマワリを見たから、驚いた。日本に来たオランダの友達によると、アムステルダムはもう冬みたいだそうです。駅周りに小さい森を作るといいと思います。今のところ、このヒマワリたちが素敵な気晴らしになっています。

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.

Small biodiversity garden for construction workers

高速道路の工事現場のまんなかに、きれいな生物多様性の庭があります。すべての働く場所は庭になるはずです。

I saw this beautiful biodiversity mini-garden at a construction site for the  combination surface and underground urban freeways along Yamate Dori not far from Yoyogi Park. Although I bike this route every weekday, it took me a while to realize that this garden was inside the construction site, and visible mostly to the construction workers. What a great idea that workers’ jobs can be improved with on-site gardens. It looks very modular and portable.

This project is, I think, by Shimizu Corporation, one of Japan’s big builders. It’s funny that they get more attention for their grandiose city on the ocean Green Float concept than some of the small and inexpensive projects that they are already carrying out.

CNN on Tokyo’s green streets and vertical gardens

CNNのインタビューです。みんなが小さな緑をたくさん作って、東京生活を楽しくしています。路地と区役所のイノベーションについて話しました。@KyungLahCNN さん、 ありがとうございます。

CNN broadcast their interview with me about how neighborhood gardens make Tokyo life so enjoyable. Focus on small green streets & local government innovations. Thanks @KyungLahCNN

Continue reading