小さな

A closer view of decorative grass on Tokyo balcony

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小さな植木鉢の草がもっと詳しく見えます。色と動きがあって、大好きです。

The color and movement of this grass growing in a small flowerpot are very enjoyable.

Red edged grass adds compact color and movement in wind

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小さな植木鉢の草の先は赤くて、風で動きます。今年の夏、大好きな植物の一つです。

In a narrow ceramic flowerpot, this red edged grass provides color and movement with the wind. It’s one of my favorite plants this summer.

Air plants in small containers sit on widow box

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窓際においたベンチの上の小さな植木鉢の中で、エアプラントが元気そうです。右は、手仕事屋久家でぼくが作った盆栽の植木鉢です。左は、衆生の猫の絵です。

Easy to move around, the tiny scale of air plants are a perfect fit for a Tokyo apartment. I made the bonsai pots on the right at Kuge Crafts. The cat drawing on the left is by Shu.

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A small vase brings color inside

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小さな花瓶が家のなかを素敵に見せてくれます。備前の花瓶は手仕事屋久家で作りました。

I made this “bizen”, wood-fired vase at Kuge Crafts. The deep blue flower is called rindo (リンドウ) in Japanese.

Which hydrangea do you like best? I love all types.

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6月の梅雨で、一番きれいな花はアジサイでしょうか。色と種類が多いですが、僕は全部、大好きです。最近、伊豆の小さな田んぼのよこで、アジサイが咲いていたのを見ました。

I love all types of hydrangea. They are always so oversized, and particularly well suited to Japan’s rainy season. I like the elegant ones that bloom more sparingly, and also the giant pom pom types that come in so many different shades. Recently we saw hydrangea planted on the border of small rice fields in Izu.

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Two succulents in hand-made ceramic add craft to new window bench

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小さな二つの多肉植物(エケベリアとセダム)が冬のベランダで元気になりました。最近、窓ぎわの新しいベンチの上に置きました。この陶器の植木鉢は4年前に、義理の両親の工房『手仕事屋 久家』で作りました。

This small succulent pair has grown well all winter long on my balcony. I brought it inside for a few days on our window seat. This is one of the first ceramics I made at my in-laws’ crafts studio, Kuge Crafts. I’m working with them now to create a new website for their studio.

Miniature four season garden extends into the street

駅に行く途中で、石井さんの庭をいつも見ます。小さな場所なのに、伝統的な四季の植物がたくさんあります。路地に植木鉢をおいて、車がゆっくりすぎるようにしているそうです。
This miniature four seasons garden I also included in the Plant Journal article. I pass it almost every day on my walk to the station, and I am enchanted that such a small space can accomodate almost all of the classic Japanese garden plants, including bushes and trees. Ishii-san also explained that he places the flower pots in the street to slow automobile traffic. A few weeks ago, I posted a photo of Daisuke Hamada taking a photo of Ishii-san.

Professor Owl teaches a class of animals, near Nodai campus

農大の近くに、梟先生が動物のクラスを教えています。コンクリート・ブロックの壁の中に、小さな驚きです。

What a happy classroom taught by professor owl. Yuki spotted this cute diorama in the gap space in a resident’s cinderblock wall, between Nodai and the Kyodo station. What a tiny surprise.

Strawberries are taking shape. Looks like 6 plants will make a big harvest.

「東京イチゴ」には、小さなフルーツがいっぱい出来ています。最初にイチゴを食べられるのは鳥か自分か分かりません。

There are so many small fruits taking shape on my six “Tokyo strawberry” plants. I hope we get them before the birds do.

Bonsai shedding leaves

冬の日光は、室内で植物を撮影するのにいいと思います。

ベランダの庭には、植木鉢が多いです。ですから、室内に持って来るのが簡単です。一つの植物はお客さんを接待するときに使えますし、気分を変えてくれます。盆栽は一番持ち運びがよくて、いくつかの要素が小さな世界を作ってくれます。

The winter sunlight is particularly good for indoor plant portrait photography.

Bonsais are the ultimate in portable and creating an entire, changing world with few elements. Part of gardening involves the overall effect of dozens or hundreds of plants. But part is also the specific plant and season.

As a balcony gardener using containers, I have many small plants that are especially portable. A single indoor plant can welcome a guest or create a mood.

Rose and fujibakama evoke West and Japan

私のベランダの庭には、違う場所を呼び起こす植物を並べて置きます。ここはバラとフジバカマは一緒にあります。小さな庭なのに、楽しいです。

In my balcony garden, I like juxtaposing plants that evoke different places. Here is a late-blooming pink rose, originally from Asia yet cultivated extensively in Europe, along with fujibakama, one of Japan’s seven fall flowers. Mixing forms, colors, and histories make even the smallest garden fun.

Sunset over Shimokitazawa commercial street

最近、よくこの下北沢の商店街に行きます。日暮れはとてもきれいです。自転車で行けて、おいしいコーヒーのお店があります。東京の商店街には、いろいろ小さな店があります。商店街のデザインは散歩したり、ぶらぶらしたりすることがしやすいようになっています。古いけれど、商店街のストリートデザインはヨーロッパとアメリカで人気が出てきています。どうして都庁は車を支持して、商店街を支持しないのでしょう?

Recently I have been spending more time on this Shimokitazawa shoutengai, or commercial strip full of very small businesses. This one is northwest of the station, and somewhat hard to find. What’s great is its combination of shops run by old timers alongside imported hipster clothes, one of Tokyo’s best coffee shops called Bear Pond that roasts their own beans, a hookah bar, and at least ten hair salons.

There are thousands of these shopping streets in Tokyo, near transit stations and along routes that connect homes, workplaces, schools, and leisure areas. It’s strange that Tokyo Metropolitan Government is still so focused on cars and their movement across the city at the expense of walking and biking and other forms of common space usage. There is little government recognition or support for the idea that these relics of past decades are in fact some of Tokyo’s most forward-looking urban public spaces.

Lively pedestrian zones are common in Europe, and becoming more so in many cities in the United States. By not segregating cars, pedestrians, and bicycles, the street pace slows down to pedestrian speed while still allowing passage for delivery trucks and cars. The way the street is painted makes it appear even more narrow, providing further social cues about speed and usage.

Many of Tokyo’s shoutengai are suffering as consumers shift towards shopping at big box stores and driving as a primary form of transportation. The city government is truly looking backwards when it promotes automobile usage and fails to recognize the value of these vernacular public spaces that support human interaction and the environment.