渋谷

Entrance to Shibuya from Roppongi is a river of auto traffic

六本木から渋谷に来ている車の流れが50年前の都市デザインを保ち続けています。東京はいつ21世紀の都市デザインをはじめることができるでしょうか。

Layers of auto traffic rush towards Shibuya station. Has any global city maintained its aging urban auto infrastructure as thoroughly as Tokyo? Planning wise, Tokyo today can feel like it’s reliving the 1960s, as if nothing has changed in terms of mobility, urban design, and creating maximum value in dense cities.

How to entice tanuki “racoon dogs” to return to Tokyo

最近、東京ローカルフルーツのジェス(@jessmantell) とクリス(@a_small_lab) とタヌキが東京に来るタヌキの研究をしています。動物建築というコンテストに提案を送って、もうすぐ記事がオンライン出ます。この新しい研究所の名前は、「the Studio for Creative Revitalization of Tanuki Urban Manifestations, or S.C.R.O.T.U.M.」です。

渋谷で写真撮影をしました。タヌキが渋谷川から東京に入ってきます。東急グループの新しいヒカリエを訪れて、渋谷駅のDean & Delucca でコーヒーを飲みます。そして、サラリーマンに健康的な息抜きと逃避の方法を教えています。

Tanukis are real and mythic animals that once inhabited Tokyo, and are now primarily found as large ceramic statues outside local bars and restaurants. Tanukis are shape shifters, with a special superpower emanating from their floor-scraping scrotums.

My Tokyo Local Fruit co-instigators, Chris Berthelsen (of A Small Lab) and Jess Mantell (of Edoble), and I have been thinking about this subject through a contest submission for Animal Architecture and related articles to be published online soon. We’re calling our new research effort, the Studio for Creative Revitalization of Tanuki Urban Manifestations, or S.C.R.O.T.U.M.

We would like to encourage more urban human/non-human cohabitation, and are inspired by what a tanuki-friendly Tokyo would look and feel like. Here are some images from a recent photo shoot in Shibuya. Jess will add to the images to suggest new scenarios of interaction and play.

You could imagine tanuki entering the big city by river, and then interacting with the human inhabitants.

Tanuki visits Tokyu Corporation’s new Hikarie shopping complex, has a coffee at the Dean and Delucca outside Shibuya station, and encourages office workers to find healthier ways to relax and escape.

Another old house and garden surrounded by new construction in Shibuya

この渋谷で見つけた自宅と庭園も昭和時代の生き残りです。隣の建物の規模とはとても対照的です。

I like how this Showa house, with its manicured garden, has somehow survived in Shibuya. Near NHK headquarters. The difference in scale with its neighbors is striking.

Early cherry blossoms across parking lot in Shibuya. Showa house and mature tree dwarfed by newer buildings.

駐車場のおかげで、裏庭の桜が見えます。この辺りに、最後の昭和時代の自宅と庭なのです。渋谷のNHK本社の近くです。

Because of this parking lot, the result of another building torn down, you can see into the back garden of a Showa house in Shibuya, not far from NHK’s headquarters. The two story house is the last remnant of the older neighborhood that was replaced starting in the 1970s with taller, mixed use buildings. I’m glad this early blooming cherry tree has survived until now. It was a pleasant surprise after a Barbados lunch with @a_small_lab and @jessmantell.

Four men pruning trees in Mitake park in Shibuya

渋谷の美竹公園で、四人が木を剪定しています。高い梯子と移動クレーンを使います。熟練した作業に感謝します。

In Shibuya’s Mitake park, four men are pruning the trees. They are using a tall ladder and also a cherry picker. I appreciate skilled labor.

Elevated forest in Shibuya

渋谷のビルの上に、小さな森があります。宮下公園の斜め前にあって、このビルには店とギャラリーと事務所が入っています。こんなに木が見えて、自然光を使っている事務所は良さそうです。明治通りからは、この小さな空の森が見えませんが、渋谷のBear Pondコーヒーからはよく見えます。

Recently I have been drinking coffee at Bear Pond on the street that connects Miyashita Park and Aoyama. On these hot days, it’s great to look up and see a vertical forest on this 10 story mid-rise that combines retail, gallery, and office space. It’s easy to miss this from Meiji Dori, but you can see it easily from the Bear Pond coffee shop. it must be great to work surrounded by thick trees and natural light. It also looks like you can walk between the top three levels.

Furin & chandelier decorate homeless camp in Shibuya

風鈴がホームレスの家を飾っています。宮下公園の下、渋谷スランブルの近くにあって、この家はとても整然としています。東京はいつも何かと隣り合わせになっていて、垂直な層になっています。例えば、半分公共の空間と空っぽの空間、デザインされた空間とデザインのない空間、住宅、スケードポード場、飲み屋、そしてバイクの駐車場。

A furin is a glass wind chime whose sound Japanese find cooling in summer; something about glass and metal striking. I was amazed to see this domestic symbol, along with a white chandelier (below), decorating two homes in this long row of wood and blue tarp cubes sheltering the homeless. (The furin is just to the right of the rolled up bamboo used to screen door).

I am struck by how incredibly orderly these living structures are, and how on a warm day when you gaze inside, the homes seem orderly and common place: tidy kitchens, matt floors, shelves and storage, on a scale just slightly smaller than what most Tokyo-ites live in.

This long alley of make-shift homes is just below Miyashita Park that paces the Yamanote line for a fe blocks. It’s just past Nonbei Yokocho and near the center of Shibuya. There was controversy over gentrification and corporate funding for city resources when the city accepted Nike sponsorship to renovate the park with design by Atelier Bow Wow. It seems the homeless merely migrated to the area just below the fenced-in skate park and fusball court.

Now it is a typically Tokyo close juxtaposition of semi-public and vacant space, design and non-design, and living, sports, drinking, and parking spaces.

Why are there so few old trees in Tokyo?

どうして東京は木がないところが多いのでしょう?特に、都市キャノピーを作れる成熟した木がたくさんありません。新しい工事は、古いランドスケープを取り除いてしまいます。渋谷区は、どれだけ木があるかを確認して、住民に知らせて、木の価値について説明して、保護しようとしています。

Many parts of Tokyo seem perversely devoid of tree canopy. That’s why I was thrilled to see this very public sign on a chestnut tree (shiinoki or シイノキ) in Shibuya ward. The tree sits at the back of the Naganuma School for Japanese study, in an area where large office buildings and residences are still being constructed. In almost every urban construction site, the prior landscape is scraped.

I am not sure how much protection this sign offers the tree, but it’s good to know that the city is aware of the value of mature trees, and that passers-by will see the sign and wonder where the other trees went.

Weeds shooting up

野草が見えて、夏はこれからだ。

Rainy season propels city weeds, and signals the start of our jungle-like summer.

Dandelion and dokudami, Shibuya. Related: see previous post about dokudami weed, and reader comments about edible versions in Vietnam.

Nonbei Yokocho

最近、のんべい横丁に初めて行きました。たぶん電車のそばなので、このきれいな路地は生き残っています。東京の過去を想像させます。

Between the new Miyashita park and Shibuya station, I came across this lovely alley called Nonbei Yokocho, full of tiny bars. Maybe because it’s next to the train tracks, a marginal urban space, this collection of old houses built before or just after the war have survived. I love the weeping willows, the lanterns, and the reminder of Shibuya’s earlier incarnations.

Shrine entrance invites tree lovers and prayers

自転車で日本語の学校に行く途中で、山手道路沿いにいつもこの階段を見ます。坂を登って、林と神社を訊ねたい。代々木八幡の神社に行ったことがありますか。

I bike to school on Yamate Dori, one of Tokyo’s modern ring roads. It’s currently under construction and rather ugly: a freeway underground, a 6 lane road on the surface, sidewalks torn up, new and mostly undistinguishable apartment buildings. On this ride from Nakano to Shibuya, one of the highlights is glimpsing the stairs leading up to this tree-filled shrine. I stopped and found out that it is Yoyogi-Hachiman shrine. I haven’t made it up the stairs yet, but it beckons as an inviting escape from the more functional, profane city racing by it.

May is a great time for roses around Tokyo

どのバラにも香りがあるべきだと思います。けれども、香りがなくても、バラを見たら、いつも元気にならずにはいられない。

I have seen some lovely roses walking in Tokyo recently. The red one above is from the border between Sakuragaoka 桜丘町 and Uguisudani 鶯谷町, a leafy upscale neighborhood ten minutes from the world famous Shibuya pedestrian crossing (called scramble, スクランブル in Japanese). I like how this red rose has escaped a private garden and is now attaching itself to the street mirror meant to prevent collisions.

The yellow rose is from a house in Nakano, near a pedestrian walkway built on an old creek. I wish all roses had fragrance, but whenever you see roses, it is hard not to feel cheerful.

Shibuya office tower has green wall on back side

垂直の庭は普通のオフィスビルを一変します。デットスペースをなくす渋谷の良い例です。

Since I have been taking an intensive Japanese language course in Shibuya, I have gotten to explore some of the back areas of Shibuya. Away from the massive crossing that is world famous (called a “scramble” in Japanese), and away from the crazy teen fashion, Shibuya is full of offices and even quiet residential neighborhoods.

I often pass the front of this bland and typical office tower. Recently, I was walking in the back alley, and realized that the entire rear facade is planted. I’ll have to go back some more to see if the wall of green grows thicker. It seems like a simple yet impressive structure for transforming the dead vertical space, and providing a beautiful garden for the office workers and neighbors. Well done!