bamboo

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

lantern_flower_koenji_window

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.

New year decorations of pine and bamboo at local shrine

nakano_shrine_newyear_decoration

地元の神社には素敵な新年の飾り付けがあります。今年、写真をもっと上手になりたいので、新しいプロジェクトを探しています。

I love the simple pine and bamboo strapped to the entry gate of my local shrine. This is where we start the new year a few minutes past midnight with the neighbors drinking amezake and enjoying a small fire. Even the graffiti is cute. This new year, I will try to improve my photography, and seek a greater capacity for identifying the path of least resistance.

Small potted plants on bamboo bench in Golden Gai

flowerpots_goldengai_mornin
ゴールデン街の朝、竹ベンチの上に、きれいな植木鉢が見えます。
It was fun to visit Golden Gai during the morning, with all the micro-bars closed and few people around. I love the well-kept potted plants on this bamboo bench.

Gorgeous, super manicured bamboo hedge in front of Nezu Museum

根津美術館前の歩道にある竹の生け垣は素敵だと思います。
On the sidewalk in front of the Nezu Museum, this bamboo hedge has been manicured to  perfection. I am always excited to walk or bike by there.

Zojoji temple decorated for tanabata

夏の七夕の飾り付けが大好きです。近所のスーパーや古いお寺で、自分の願いを書いて、笹に飾ります。芝公園の増上寺で。

Cut bamboo and hand-written messages mark Tanabata, a traditional summer festival. I like how it’s celebrated in both the local supermarket, and also the old temples. This is from Zojoji temple in Shiba Koen.

Small Showa garden visible from the lane. Plum blossoms, shuro palm, and bamboo.

昭和時代の庭に、梅が咲いています。落葉生の木も常緑のシュロと竹もあります。西東京のこんな自宅の庭が減っています。

Winter provides a glimpse into this small Showa-era garden. Close to the house is a plum tree in bloom. Bordering the new development are evergreen plants including bamboo and the shuro palm.

Deep red vine in winter adds charm to concrete residence in Harajuku

冬の深い赤色のつるはコンクリートの住宅を魅力的にします。去年の写真とくらべると、緑のつるは感じが違います。

This Harajuku residential buidling is bordered by tall bamboo and covered in a thick vine. I posted a photo of this building last summer shaded in dense green foliage. Now it’s turned red in early winter, and the contrast is very pleasing.

Making new year’s ornaments at Shiho

史火陶芸教室の生徒さんの一人、萩原さんがしめ飾りの作り方を教えました。材料はとても素敵だったと思います。様々なマツ、松ぼっくり、紙垂、稲穂、リボン、縄、ベリー、バラの実、乾燥した葉や花を使いました。お店で買ったしめ飾りよりずっと素敵です。萩原さんはこのブログをいつも読んでくれています。ありがとうございます。

Fellow Shiho ceramic studio student Hagiwara-san organized a new year ornament or shimekazari workshop. It was so fun to work with beautiful, fresh materials, including several types of pine needles, pine cones and woody seed husks, Shinto folded paper, rice, ribbons and ropes, berries and rose hips, even dried chocolate cosmos and other leaves.

In past years I’ve bought them from Muji or even the supermarket. It was fun how all of the hand-made shimekazaris turned out differently. Some had circular and oval bases made of twigs and bamboo, others were tied together in a bunch. I used wires to attach the mini pine cones and even a yuzu.

Hagiwara-san is also a loyal Tokyo Green Space reader. Thank you!

The places between spaces enchant

建物の間の狭いところが私をひきつけます。密集した都市のこんなスペ—スは、とても楽しいと思います。狭いのに、十五メートルの高さの竹と冬に葉を落としている木とシュロというヤシが元気そうです。

I was captivated by this narrow green space between residences in Omotesando. The places between spaces have a tremendous appeal in dense Tokyo. This tiny space supports 15 meter tall bamboo, a tree shedding its leaves for winter, and the ubiquitous shuro palm tree that self-seeds throughout Tokyo.

Buying good luck rakes at Tori no Ichi festival

今年は酉の市が三回あります。もう熊手を買いました。同じ日に新しい仕事の契約を結びましたから、去年のよりサイズアップしました。新宿花園神社のこの祭りが大好き。たくさん水商売のオーナーが参拝にきます。でも、酉の市が三回ある年は、火事の危険が高くなると言われています。

With an entrance on Yasukuni Dori no wider than the average office building, the large Hanazono shrine in Shinjuku can easily be missed. Except in November, when the entrance is filled with lanterns and a giant rake, protected in plastic from the rain, for Tori no Ichi festival.

This festival centers around the sale of lucky rakes, made of bamboo and hot glued ornaments including rice, pine, gold coins, tai fish, and other lucky charms. One variation included all the Anpanman characters.

This year, I “sized up” from last year’s rake. The first day of the festival, I signed a new contract so I guess last year’s rake worked! I dutifully took last year’s rake back to the shrine, and added it to the pile of old rakes.

When you purchase a rake, the sellers gather around and clap wood blocks to wish you luck. I saw one rake purchased that cost 300,000 yen (yes, over US $3,000) and had to be carried by two men. Delivery is probably free when you buy such a huge one.

What makes this particular shrine fun is that all this spiritual and monetary focus caters to the Shinjuku nightlife world, as it stands in the center of Kabukicho, Golden Gai, and Ni Chome.

Because of the vagaries of the lunar year, this year there are three days this month for the festival (Nov 2, 14, and 26). There’s a superstition that when there’s three festival days, there is an increased risk of winter fires.

As fall turns to winter, I expect to hear small groups of people walking my residential neighborhood and clapping wood blocks to warn residents of the danger of fire. In the meantime, this oddly patched warning showed up at a train station. I wonder what word is underneath the English correction.

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.

A walk through Harajuku backstreets on a hot summer day

原宿の路地を歩くと、いろいろな庭を見ることができます。おしゃれな建物のグリーンカーテンや戦前からある伝統的な日本庭園もあります。私が好きな庭はシンプルで、たくましくて、さりげないです。大きな青山団地でトマトとゴーヤを見つけました。

With @luismendo visiting from Amsterdam, my Tokyo DIY Gardening pal Chris and I took him on a tour of Harajuku backstreets looking at gardens, eating tonkatsu, and stopping for some excellent cold coffee.

Harajuku is fun because the residential area has houses and gardens from all or almost all the past eight decades. The Harajuku gardens that appeal to me are similar to ones elsewhere in Tokyo for their simplicity and easy adaptation to urban life. Some results are clearly unintentional.

My photos include a three story garden of ivy and bamboo that covers one house and provides a buffer with its neighbor, a sleek concrete building’s balcony green curtains that are just starting to fill out on two floors, a blue flowering vine that somehow became a giant bush, a tiny entrance garden outside a pre-war house that has been converted into the very elegant Omotesando Coffee.

We also explored the enormous Danchi that between 246 road and Harajuku. This sprawling bauhaus-like public housing project has a wonderfully chaotic and varied set of gardens created by generations of residents. In July, we spotted lots of tomatoes, vertical bitter melon, and these purple gloves on top of an ad hoc garden support.

Striped bamboo makes geometric ground cover

縞模様の竹が幾何学的なデザインを作っているから、思わず目が行く。

I love this short variegated bamboo. Today was a sunny and cold winter day. While crossing Shinjuku Gyoen, this vivid pattern stole my attention.

Providing a temporary home for the gods in Tokyo: Shimekazari and Kadomatsu for the New Year

東京のお正月の時だけですが、神様を迎え入れます.

Tokyo residents and small businesses welcome the gods in temporary homes built of bamboo, pine, and plum blossoms.

I love how the best ones are hand-crafted from pine, bamboo, and plum blossoms. They are intended to be temporary homes for the Shinto gods (kami, 神様). I like the idea that you can create a temporary house for the gods to visit at new year. The three heights of the kamomastu represent heaven, humanity, and earth- in descending order. The shimekazari are smaller, with Shinto rope holding charms such as oranges, folded paper, rice straw, and ferns.

Shimekazari (標飾り) and Kadomatsu (門松) are traditional New Year’s ornaments placed on walls and on the sidewalks outside shops and homes. The city simultaneously empties of people and fills with physical connections to mountains and spirits. This year I took photos of the widest variety I could find in the areas I visit on typical days: on a car bumper, outside a sento, next to a wall of cigarette advertisements, on a busy boulevard, outside a barbershop, pachinko parlor, 24 hour convenience store, and a department store.

After the holiday, these decorations should be burned at a shrine. By mid-January, they are already a faded memory.

See more photos after the jump.

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