空っぽ

At the start, the demolition truck is still empty

demolition_nakano_start
取り壊しの初め、トラックは空っぽです。青いタイルの家も左隣の家ももうすぐ取り壊されます。

The houses to be demolished are the Showa-era one with blue roof tiles and the neighboring house on its left.

Balcony garden has been relocated due to building maintenance

balcony_empty_sayhi_shu_nakano

空っぽになったベランダを見て、びっくりしました。ベランダの二百種類くらいの植物が東京の家族の小さな庭に移転されました。パートナーがこの写真を取って、Say Hi というサイトに載せました。ビルメンテナンスのために、二ヶ月以上、家に庭がありません。

It’s a shock for me, too, to see this photo of my empty balcony.  The 200 or so plants on my Tokyo mid-rise balcony have been relocated to my in-laws’ small garden.

Our building is undergoing a two and a half month exterior renovation to patch cracks, replace drainage pipes, and otherwise maintain this 40 year old building. My spouse Shu Kuge took this photo and posted it to Say Hi.

In the garden’s absence, I’ll be focusing more on photos and stories about my neighborhood and Tokyo. Next up is a blog series documenting the demolition of two neighboring homes near my apartment.

Pine trees and lawn create a silent landscape

皇居の前に、黒松がたくさんあって、芝生は広いです。空っぽな感じがします。こんなに完璧な芝生を見ると、使われている有害な農薬のことを考えてしまいます。活気のない印象があります。

On the East Side of the Imperial Palace, there are hundreds of black pine trees in a vast field of lawn. Although the surrounding streets are full of cars, there’s an eery silence and emptiness in the park. Maybe it’s also the perfect quality of the lawn that also strikes me as life-less and full of harmful chemicals.

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.