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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.

How to entice tanuki “racoon dogs” to return to Tokyo

最近、東京ローカルフルーツのジェス(@jessmantell) とクリス(@a_small_lab) とタヌキが東京に来るタヌキの研究をしています。動物建築というコンテストに提案を送って、もうすぐ記事がオンライン出ます。この新しい研究所の名前は、「the Studio for Creative Revitalization of Tanuki Urban Manifestations, or S.C.R.O.T.U.M.」です。

渋谷で写真撮影をしました。タヌキが渋谷川から東京に入ってきます。東急グループの新しいヒカリエを訪れて、渋谷駅のDean & Delucca でコーヒーを飲みます。そして、サラリーマンに健康的な息抜きと逃避の方法を教えています。

Tanukis are real and mythic animals that once inhabited Tokyo, and are now primarily found as large ceramic statues outside local bars and restaurants. Tanukis are shape shifters, with a special superpower emanating from their floor-scraping scrotums.

My Tokyo Local Fruit co-instigators, Chris Berthelsen (of A Small Lab) and Jess Mantell (of Edoble), and I have been thinking about this subject through a contest submission for Animal Architecture and related articles to be published online soon. We’re calling our new research effort, the Studio for Creative Revitalization of Tanuki Urban Manifestations, or S.C.R.O.T.U.M.

We would like to encourage more urban human/non-human cohabitation, and are inspired by what a tanuki-friendly Tokyo would look and feel like. Here are some images from a recent photo shoot in Shibuya. Jess will add to the images to suggest new scenarios of interaction and play.

You could imagine tanuki entering the big city by river, and then interacting with the human inhabitants.

Tanuki visits Tokyu Corporation’s new Hikarie shopping complex, has a coffee at the Dean and Delucca outside Shibuya station, and encourages office workers to find healthier ways to relax and escape.

One of my favorite public gardens is in the center of Shinjuku ni-chome

この歩道の植木鉢の庭が大好きです。新宿二丁目のまんなかにあって、両側の道路に百以上の植物があります。それぞれにラベルがついています。

In the center of Shinjuku ni-chome, a man who seems to have lived in the same shop house for many decades has created a narrow garden in the 25 centimeters between sidewalk and street. It occupies his side of the street, and the opposite side of the street, with well over 100 pots all existing in public space that is frequented by patrons of the hundreds if not thousands of small gay bars. It has the largest number of gay bars of any gay neighborhood in any city in the world. I like how the gardener has labeled all his plants, some pots are secured with chains, and some propped up on beer crates.

Tree lined walking path in Shinjuku is magical

There are many small creeks in Tokyo that have been turned into pedestrian paths. In my neighborhood, they are modestly landscaped. In Shinjuku, there’s Shinjuku Yuhodo Koen Shiki no Machi (新宿遊歩道公園四季の道), an amazing green corridor with mature trees between the department stores of San Chome, Hanazono Shrine, the packed bars of Golden Gai, and Kabukicho.

Oddly, my very detailed Tokyo City Atlas does not include the path’s name. It’s easy to miss it, but once inside it feels like a magical passageway, full of life during the day and at night. Green corridors take up minimal space, and are perhaps more useful than small parks since provide a path between places.