I love this canal view, the layers of visible history in buildings, and the wide water that evokes pre-industrial Edo life. Even the regrettable additions, like the elevated freeways, show how Tokyo constantly evolves not through great design but by continual addition to what was already there.
There is so much transportation infrastructure on this wide canal in Shibaura Ichome. I also love how the small post-war house at the corner has been built up over the years with additions, and then surrounded by a taller modernist office and more recent, larger buildings that are more about function than form. There’s something very calming about seeing this large expanse of water, and a view of how Tokyo became layered with new structures over time.
These woodchucks with their ice cream cones and hair ribbons are irresistible. I also like the heavily shadowed angel fish which decorates a car parking tower also sponsored by “Happy & Sunlight” pachinko. With the ease of public transportation from Tokyo, I imagine Atami is ripe for reinvention for the post-automobile young people.
My Tokyo Local Fruits partners Chris Berthelsen and Jessica Mantell and I responded to an open call from Limno, an independent Italian research center that investigates landscapes. They included us in their elegant book 76 Pounds and XVI Coins (76 Libbre e XVI Soldi) that investigates the cultural and natural layers of Venice’s Forte Marghera, built by Austrian and French invaders. Our article on Tokyo Local Fruit ends the book.
On a recent trip to New York City, I took my film camera to some iconic parks. Above is the reservoir in Central Park, a place for exercise, leisure, and path between Upper East Side and Upper West Side.
Below is the High Line, a more recent park created from a dis-used elevated train line west of Chelsea. I love how in both environments, you can enjoy nature and feel connected to an urban landscape.
I love the semi-wild shuro palm, and how it pops up unexpectedly in Tokyo gardens. This is at the “forest house” in Nakano, looking up towards the sky. Utility lines are also a common Tokyo landscape element.
Japan Timesという日本で一番大きい英語新聞に、Tokyo Green Space のインタビューが出ました。丸井の屋上の庭でインタビューが行われて、ちょうどその時、店員さんが芝生に掃除機をかけていました。都市生活と自然が完璧にミックスしてました。
The Japan Times, Japan’s largest English language newspaper, published an interview about Tokyo Green Space online and in print. The interview took place on Marui’s roof garden, and when we met there, a staff member was vacuuming the lawn. A perfect mix of city life and gardening. I hope you find the interview interesting.
Here’s the print version of the newspaper, where the blogroll interview is positioned on the “Techno Times” page. You can click to make it larger.
.@skidgel が、新しい英語の東京の旅行ガイドに Tokyo Green Space がのせられたことがわかりました。観光客も東京で、自然を体験してもらえるかもしれないので、うれしいです。
Thanks to @skidgel, I saw that the current edition of The Rough Guide to Tokyo travel book features Tokyo Green Space on the second page of “what to do” under the heading of “towards a greener Tokyo.” It’s great to see that visitors are interested in experiencing nature in Tokyo.
More indoor plant portrait photography.
I like bromeliads, which brings color indoors easily. This one still looks good after I bought it in November. They are especially lovely in winter. The white ceramic I made at Shiho ceramic studio.
The idealization of nature in Shinjuku Gyoen.
Walking in the back streets in Jingumae, I came across this fantastic abandoned housing project. Soon the lot will no doubt be scraped and redeveloped into luxury residences with minimal landscaping. Until then, it’s an island of nature, full of persimmons, fall foliage, and wildlife.
These photos are from the Shiho ceramic show last month. I exhibited bonsai pots, regular pots, and wall vases. I like white glaze on black and red clay because it seems earthy and neutral. Next year I want to make more bonsai pots, and use them with air plants.
On Japan’s Culture Day, the Dutch Embassy in Tokyo opened the doors to its magnificent ambassador’s residence and garden. Hundreds of locals took advantage of this rare inside look. It reminded me that many of Tokyo’s greatest green spaces are in private hands or inaccessible to the public like the Imperial Palace.
It’s fantastic that the Netherlands embassy opens their diplomatic outpost to the public twice a year. The house was initially designed in the 1880s and rebuilt after the 1923 earthquake. Although some say the style is “colonial,” the building reminds me of upper class residences in the United State’s northeast. From some angles, I could imagine Gatsby throwing a large garden party.
The garden is a fantastic mix of towering pines and other trees, a pleasantly irregular lawn, and a mix of traditional Japanese garden plants with plenty of imports like roses. Within this well maintained garden, I was pleased to see Tokyo’s native palm tree, the shuro, which easily self-sows and carries a history of being used for centuries in domestic life, as brooms, roofing, and sandals.
The visit also reminded me of the centuries of Dutch-Japanese history. This year I visited Dejima in Nagasaki, the sole foreign trading post during the centuries when Japan remained otherwise closed to the world. The visit conjured scenes of trading ships, cultural emissaries, and globalization in its earlier stages.
With any excuse, I like to cut across Shinjuku Gyoen. There are so many different plants and landscapes to see there. I like the contrast of these photos. Above late summer maple trees are lush green, and reflected in a pond. Only the wooden edge suggests that it is a garden and not a natural wonder. Below is the Japanese garden, with a path through the pond and gardeners hard at work styling nature into a very specific shape. I love seeing both woody and stylized versions so close to each other.