berries

Purple berries on murasaki shikibu pop on light green foliage

紫式部の果実は薄緑の葉に似合います。この特別な秋の植物は『5倍緑』という都市里山箱のなかで成長します。史火陶芸教室の前を、歩行者が注目しています。季節ごとに、小さい風景ができあがります。史火のホームペジで、この5倍緑箱が二年前にどんなだったかを見られます。

I love how the purple berries pop against the light green foliage. This hardy shrub is a classic fall marker, and a reference to the female novelist of the thousand year old Tale of Genji. Unlike my balcony specimen, which dropped its berries while still green, this one outside Shiho ceramic studio looks fantastic. It’s growing in a 5bai midori, the modular urban satoyama box.

I bought the first box two years ago, and the second last year. They really thrive on this north-facing sidewalk and draw attention to the studio and store. If you click on Shiho’s website, you can see on the home page how small the first one was. It just needs lots of water, and very occasional pruning. There are so many local species that each season has something special and evocative of the Japanese landscape.

Bright red berries on late autumn bonsai composition

友達が作った素敵な景色盆栽は秋を表現しています。それぞれの要素は色々な違う場所から来ています。

My friend’s stylish bonsai composition expresses autumn with elements from distant geographies.

My friend Matthew Puntigam created this bonsai composition last week. It’s a wonderful expression of late autumn: the red berries, sparse leaves, and asymmetry of the plant, and the intriguing composition that creates a fantasy landscape with elements from distant geographies.

The plant is, possibly, called ピラカンサス (pirakansasu) in Japanese, or Pyracanthas in Latin. I like how Matt, a bonsai apprentice, has paired the plant with a stone from Sadoshima (佐渡島), an island in Japan or Korean Sea, depending on your perspective, that served as a penal colony and place of forced exile since the eighth century. The diminutive turtle is of unknown provenance, but the slate is an old roof tile from Matt’s Maryland hometown.

Thank you for the gorgeous image!

New year decorations

Above is a kadomatsu, or new year’s decoration that rests on the ground. These large ones are usually in front of businesses. This one is in front of one of my favorite Tokyo haunts: the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium constructed for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and open to the public now in central Tokyo.

The materials are bamboo, pine, straw and red berries. I love the decorative rope flower and the splayed straw at the base. Below is the shimekazari hanging outside of our apartment door. Notice the folded paper and rice stalk. After the holiday, these plant-based new year’s symbols are  burned at shrines. So different than the un-ceremonial sidewalk dumping of US Christmas trees.

Happy new year! Best wishes for a bright new decade.