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A woman walks her pet turtle in the rain, at a Koenji shopping street

Turtle_Look_Shoutengai_Koenji

長いあいだ、東京に住んでいるので、もうおどろくことはないと思いました。けれども、高円寺のルックという商店街で雨の日に、亀と一緒に散歩している人に会いました。亀は足を前方と後ろに動かして、頭は見回しています。

亀は濡れているのがきらいだと言いました。だから、オーナーはタオルで亀をふいてあげます。こんな都市の動物と人間の友情はすばらしいと思います。

Sometimes, I think nothing surprises me any more in Tokyo. And then I see this lovely woman walking down Koenji’s Look shopping street with her pet turtle. The turtle looks like he is swimming in air, legs reaching forward and back and eyes taking in the surroundings.

The human guardian explains that she is carrying this towel under her umbrella to wipe off the turtle. Apparently, her turtle does not like to get wet! Thanks to both of them for adding some cheer to a rainy day.

“We’re not doing energy savings,” a restaurant announces on sign board

高円寺のレストランの看板に「節電してませ〜ん」と書いてあります。政府とマスメディアを信じていないと、抗議しているのだと思います。@KoenjiLook

This Koenji restaurant on Look shotengai is bragging on their sign board that they are not doing energy savings, and that it’s cool inside. Thanks to Chris from A Small Lab for noticing this! Now that we’re in our second summer after Fukushima, many people dismiss government and mass media campaigns to save energy. There’s rebellion in the air.

Potting plants for Shiho student ceramic show

今日は史火陶芸教室の展示会の準備をします。どんな植物がいろいろな植木鉢と似合うだろう。着生植物や季節の花と紫キャベツを使おうと思っています。土曜日から展覧会が始まります。写真は、最後の植木鉢の釉がけ前のです。

Today I am potting up plants and getting my flowerpots ready for the Shiho student ceramic show. Above are the last two larger flower pots. When I go to the studio today, I’ll see how they look after being glazed and baked.

The one with the holes can be used with a candle, or you can place a plant inside that you’ve bought at the nursery in its original plastic pot. I like that it’s lighter weight, transparent, and easy to swap plants in and out.

I am also showing small pots and smaller bonsai pots. I have an idea for untraditional bonsai plantings, including air plants that can be removed so you can see the whole ceramic pot. For the larger pots, I’ll try to mix seasonal flowers, purple leafed cabbage, and some of the plants Matthew left in the back garden.

The show starts this Saturday and runs for five days. I’ll be at the gallery on Saturday from  3ish to 7, on Sunday from 5 to 7, and sometime next week depending on my work schedule.

Late summer balcony garden has some wildness

最近は季節が変わってきたと感じます。空気は乾燥してきたし、空はもっと青色ですし、ふわふわな雲が劇的に動きます。晩夏、うちの狭いベランダ庭では、野生の気分が出てきました。小さいな保育園の席やブルーベリーや陶芸の植木鉢があります。

The season is turning. The air is suddenly much drier, the sky bluer, and the clouds puffy and dramatic. These late summer photos show the wildness I was able to achieve in my narrow balcony garden this year.

Above is the view from the kitchen door. There’s a tiny nursery school chair, an already fading sunflower, a last burst of blueberries, and murasaki shikibu, a fall flower that I just bought.

Below you can see the shelf full of my amateur ceramic flowerpots, which can also be seen from the living room. One pot has basil. I like how the garden path seems longer and more over-grown than it is.

Azabu Juban dead space in central Tokyo

Azabu Juban is one of Tokyo’s most central and most expensive neighborhoods. Arriving at the Tokyo Metro station for a meeting with a book editor, I was struck by just how unattractive the roadway is. In the opposite direction are small streets with traditional Japanese food, French cafes, and many charming places. But in this direction, there is a large swath of concrete plus interconnected elevated freeways.

This combination of high value real estate and astounding dead space also occurs nearby at Mori Building’s Roppongi Hills. I wonder if Japanese are particularly astute at ignoring the unaesthetic and directing their vision to the more attractive parts? How much more valuable would these neighborhoods be without the visual and air pollution caused by elevated freeways? How can a combination of private and public investment increase property and use values?

While freeway removal seems like the best solution, even hiding them with plants would greatly increase the property and use values below and adjacent to these dead spaces. An example are the beautiful mature ginkos in Sendagaya, at least when they are fully leafed out.

Aoyama ginkos

Less famous than spring cherry blossom viewing or fall maple viewing, the Aoyama ginkos draw a crowd to see the gorgeous double allée of ginkos turning bright yellow. Last weekend was probably the peak days, with just the right balance of leaves still on the trees and enough on the ground for children to toss into the air.

As dusk approached, the leaves became even paler and more luminous. It’s wonderful to see how Tokyo residents appreciate well-cared for trees and join together in public to share this seasonal moment.

The ginko tree street is officially called Icho Namiki Meijijingu Gaien. Below is an image from the Tokyo Gymnasium looking out to Gaien Nishi Dori.