路地

Common hedge gets bigger and even flowers on Tokyo balcony

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今年はベランダのカナメモチが咲いています。育てやすい植物で、どんな形にも剪定できます。東京の路地のどこにでもあります。ベランダにもいいと思います。 

Everywhere in Tokyo you see this evergreen hedge plant called kanamemochi (カナメモチ, or Photinia glabra). In spring, the new leaves are red. This year our balcony bush flowered for the first time. I highly recommend growing this bush anywhere in Tokyo. It requires very little care and can be shaped easily.

Tokyo street gardeners are rule breakers

東京の路地に小さな庭のスペースを作る方は、一般のルールに従わないところが素敵です。このブログの写真を使って、友達のショウさんがBell Street Filmsと一緒に30秒のビデオを作ってくれました。去年、ショウさんはベランダの庭にデザイン人類学校と東京グリーンスペースについてビデオを作りました。

This 30 second clip features my photographs of flowerpot gardens and stories about their makers, who explain to me how they break the law in order to create safer streets. Last year, my friend Sho’s Bell Street Films made a short video about Tokyo Green Space and design anthropology, shot mostly in my balcony garden.

Rust colored wood house survives in Nakano backstreets

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中野の路地を自転車で進んでいるときに、きれいな錆色の木造住宅を見ました。中はどんな感じなのだろうか。

Biking home on the back streets, I founds this handsome old house. I wonder what it’s like inside.

Forest house and Nakano Twin Towers on my walk to the station

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中野駅までの静かな路地は、歩きやすいです。

The house with the orange vine, aka forest house, is where I think Totoro is hanging out with tanuki. This quiet alley rarely has cars, and it makes for a calm walk to the station.

Lovely vine covers street-side window with red and yellow lanterns

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花がいっぱい咲いている蔓植物が路地の前の窓にちょっとしたプライバシーを提供しています。濃い青色の陶器タイルもきれいですね。

I love how this easy to grow vine sends its growth down. The owner has trained it over the street-side window so that it provides additional privacy. There’s also two types of bamboo shades, and three spider plants. I also like how the blue ceramic tile adds a decorative element to what is a very functional architecture typical of post-war Japan.

Local groups assemble in Shinjuku ni chome for Hanazono festival

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新宿の花園神社の祭りで、路地にそれぞれ違う町内会の服装が見えます。このリーダは僕にピースサインをしています。

Two different groups are occupying a Shinjuku ni-chome side street. At first I wondered why the leader was pointing at me. Then I realized he was giving me the peace sign. The in-between ritual time is just as fascinating as the heavy lifting of the portable shrines. I wish the streets were this lively every day.

Pink and white azalea in private garden visible from the street

azelia_nakano二色のツツジが大好きです。この家で育っている花が路地から見えます。

This two color, pink and white azalea, is one of my favorite spring flowers.

Melting snow and white camellias in four season garden

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雪が解けたときに、石井さんの庭で白いツバキが咲いていて、そばの路地で子供たちが遊んでいました。

Ishii-san’s garden nearby always look good, in all seasons. With the snow melting, a family enjoys walking down the street.

Don’t miss a child’s perspective on Tokyo streets, and a close look at the spiders around us

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友人のクリス・バーテルセンが、デジタル本を二つ出しました。その一つは、子供の視点で、東京の路地を探ります。おもしろい話や地図や写真と一緒に、都市生活を新鮮な視点で見ています。もう一つは、クリスの息子のとんか君が、家の近くに居るクモの観察をする、という内容です。日本語と英語で書かれています。よろしくね!

My super-prolific friend Chris Berthelsen has released two small self-published stories. The first is “Child Scale” or “Rainy Day Treasures” about how Tokyo streets look, smell, and feel for kids. Chris’ writing, mappings, and photographs follows a rainy day walk to the local public bathhouse with a four year old. It’s a rich observation and reflection on play and creativity. The street is the ultimate shared space in our cities, for a variety of ages, walking and transit. After reading Child Scale, I’ll pay more attention to the “floorscape” than my usual rushing or daydreaming.

Child Scale is just $3.50. You get a 112 page download, with A5 print and screen resolution PDFs. The Huffington Post and Atlantic Cities have already referenced this digital booklet. It will be enjoyed by those wanting to think more about Tokyo, urbanism, children, play, and creativity.

childscalecity_smalllabThe second booklet is by Chris’ son Tonka, who writes about his Tokyo Spider Research. It’s a 19 page booklet that examines spiders found inside and nearby a Tokyo apartment. Tonka’s handwritten notes and photographs provide a detailed document about some of the small creatures sharing our urban lives. The booklet is in Japanese and English, and will certainly inspire you to look more closely at the あimmediate environment around you. It’s just $2 for the download.

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Showa house features large tree on narrow lane

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狭い路地に、昭和時代の自宅や成熟した木は素敵です。中野で。

I love this Showa house, its gorgeous tree, and the juxtaposition with small parking lot and blue roofed 80s townhouse. There is a charm to these older houses and their mature landscapes.

Forest path in Shinjuku connects department stores, Golden Gai, and male host zone

この森の路地は、新宿のデパートやゴルデン街やホスト街をつなげます。静かなので、きれいです。

I love this path that starts at Shinjuku Dori, near the department stores, cuts between Kabukicho and Golden Gai, and ends up at the start of the male host zone in eastern Shinjuku. I wish all my city walking could be done on this narrow green path with mature trees.

Summer hydrangea spills white flowers from side street onto main road

路地からこぼれ出ているカシワバアジサイという花がきれいです。夏に咲いていますが、もともと東南アメリカの森から来ました。普通のアジサイのより、葉も花も違います。東京の建物の森で、この植物は自分のふるさとを思い出すでしょうか?

I love this late blooming summer hydrangea with white flowers spilling from the side street onto the main road near our place. It’s called “Oakleaf hydrangea” or kashiwaba ajisai in Japanese. It’s native to hardwood forests in the southeastern United States. In addition to distinctive leaves, it’s one of the few hydrangeas with cone-shaped flower bunches. Maybe built-up Tokyo reminds this bush of its native forest.

Koenji street looks like narrow country lane, with stone walls and old gardens

自転車で高円寺から戻ってくるときに、この狭い路地を見つけました。数十年前の田舎の雰囲気 があります。

I found this lane when biking home from Koenji. I felt like I was in a small town, many decades ago.

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.