below

Almost abstract image of picnic below fading cherry trees

sakura_picnic_shinjukugyoen

ほとんど抽象的ですね。お花見のピクニックです。花見の最後の日は、大体、一番暖かくて楽です。

Towards the end of cherry blossom season, the leaves sprout and the pale pink flowers are replaced by red pistils. The last few days are often warmest and best for picnicking.

 

Double planting for winter and spring Tokyo balcony

winter_greens_tulips_nakano_balcony

一つのプランターに冬と春用の植物を植えました。今は、ファーマーズマーケットからの赤色のレタス、水菜、そして春菊があって、その下でチューリップの球根が眠っています。冬でも、ベランダで野菜ができれば素晴らしいと思います。

This double planting features winter leaf vegetables and spring tulips. There’s red leaf lettuce, mizuna, and shungiku, an edible chrysanthemum. My mother-in-law reports that the balcony shungiku tastes “better than Rainbow Grocery vegetables in San Francisco.” I found the leaf vegetables at the Aoyama UN Farmers market stall that sells heirloom starter plants for 100 yen.

winter_greens_nakano_balcony

Pedestrian overpass also passes under freeway in Shiodome

pedestrian_overpass_underpass_shiodome

汐留の歩道橋です。高速道路のせいで、階段を登って、階段を下って、階段を登って、階段を下りなければなりません。なぜそんな道があるでしょうか。

This pedestrian overpass, which dips below the freeway in Shiodome, is a hot mess. I often wonder why city planners value pedestrians and bicyclists so much less than private vehicles and trucks. This is not how I’d like to walk to work from the station.

Sky Tree, the view from below and from up top

SkyTree_view_from_ground

日立さんのおかげで、やっとスカイツリーに登ることができました。構造と景色がすばらしいです。夕暮れのときがおすすめです。

Hitachi recently invited me to visit Sky Tree this summer. I’d delayed visiting because it seems far away from where we live, and because of the long lines. Seeing it complete, however, is very impressive with its exposed structure and unbelievable city views. I recommend going at twilight when the sunlight is dramatic, and then slowly the city lights up as the sky darkens.

Hitachi is responsible for the elevator between the first and the top observatory decks. In addition to its large capacity, the elevator ascends very quickly and is thus a showcase for Hitachi’s latest technologies. I was surprised to learn that when it is windy, this upper elevator is often closed for passenger safety.

I loved seeing the bay, the Sumida River, Marunouchi and in the distance Shinjuku.

SkyTree_sumida_marunouchi SkyTree_sunset

Onward in Tatsumi, a place for transit

この「Onward」というの看板の前をよく通り過ぎます。都市の端の湾の近くは、倉庫やトラックや高速道路が多いです。

Leaving the Tatsumi Metro station, I cross over one highway on a pedestrian bridge, while passing below several elevated highways intersecting with flyovers.

This Onward sign on top of a warehouse feels like a personal extortion to move through this jumble of smog and burning fuels. Onward also seems to capture this part of Tokyo’s role as a place of distribution by ship and tractor trailer. In this frenzy of “logistics,” I always wonder what’s being transported and to whom.

Fortunately, the trees planted decades ago muffle the noise somewhat, and part of this marginal land is used as a park, community vegetable garden, and Olympic level swimming pool.

Can you spot the Shibuya river? It’s below everything else.

陸橋や自転車駐車場やオフィスビルの後部やスロットクラブの看板やほかの看板の下に、ほんの少しだけ残っている渋谷川が流れています。渋谷を歩いていて、川がないことに気がつきます。渋谷川がきれいなら、楽しめるのに残念です。

Below the overpasses, bicycle parking, the rear end of office buildings, signs for Slot Club and other shops, runs what remains of the Shibuya river. Rivers and ports traditionally animate cities, allowing for trade, transportation, and food. In Shibuya, it’s easy to think there is no river at all. What a wasted opportunity.

Getting close to the water in Shibaura. With mysterious tiny canal that pre-dates recent developments.

三度目に芝浦に行ったとき、きれいな水に近づける運河を見つけました。道路と水の間を歩けます。地下に、小さな古い運河の出口も見つけました。

On my third trip to Shibaura, I discovered that there is one canal that provides wonderful, up-close access to water. It’s the first canal when entering from the JR Yamanote station. There’s even paths below the bridges and just above the water. On a drizzly afternoon, it was magical to be below the roadway.

Most of Tokyo’s rivers are buried, and the few remaining ones, including much of the Kanda and Zenpukuji rivers, are channeled 10 meters below street level to manage flooding. Sometimes I hear ducks echoing in these canyons, but the distance between people and water is a missed opportunity.

At the Shibaura canal, I found a tiny canal opening that seems to do pre-date the more recent developments. I like the old stones at the entrance. All that’s missing from this canal is space to get your feet wet, or even go in for a swim.

Neighbor’s Fig and Grapes

Neighbor's figs

A neighbor’s garden, which I blogged about twice before, has almost ripe fall fruit. This garden consists of no more than eight potted plants and some hanging baskets, occupying a small footprint and extending two stories up to the front entrance.

Above are figs, and below grapes. The fig tree seems to have busted its way out of the plastic pot and somehow found the soil below the street’s pavement.

Neighbor's grapes