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Graduate school applicant seeks books about Japanese culture, nature, and landscape

アメリカの大学院に応募する方がこのブログの読者に質問したいそうです:日本の自然とランドスケープ文化の意味について、何かおすすめの学術本がありますか? 私も読者のアイデアを聞きたいです。Image credit: Luis Mendo. From TEDxSeeds プレゼンテーション.

Which books define a Japanese cultural outlook on nature and landscapes? A perspective PhD student wrote to me asking about scholarly works that would allow a comparison with England. Is there a Japanese counterpart to Raymond Williams and William Hoskins, author of The Making of the English Landscape?

I am equally curious to hear what Tokyo Green Space readers know about this topic. So please help this perspective graduate student and share your favorite in the blog comments. Thank you!

はじめまして。
My name is Jennifer Jane Riddle, and Mr. Braiterman has kindly allowed me to introduce myself and use his blog space in order to ask readers about any texts or articles by Japanese authors that address spaces and landscapes in Japan.  I am currently applying to various PhD programs in the United States, and my goal is to examine how cultural attitudes towards natural spaces are cultivated and understood and how cultural values affect the way in which countryside spaces are used. Comparatively, I am looking at the countryside of England and English authors,  such as Raymond Williams, who wrote about British culture in relation to nature and the English countryside. I am also using more anthropological centered works, as well, such as the landscape histories of William Hoskins. As for works on Japan, I have read Jinnai Hidenobu’s work on Tokyo, and I am looking for similar writers, anthropologists, or theorists who write about Japanese relationships to countryside spaces, nature, and the environment. If anyone who enjoys this blog is aware of any Japanese scholars, past or present, who focus on culture, space and place in such a way, I would love to know more.
どうぞよろしくお願いします。

Image credit: Luis Mendo. From TEDxSeeds presentation.

2010 in review

今年もよろしくお願いします。下記は、このブログの2010年の統計です。今年ももっと日本語を書きたい。ブログにもつぶやき にも、日本語で喋ろう。

Thank you, readers, for your interest in Tokyo Green Space. I am always interested to know what you think about specific posts or the general direction of the blog. Here’s WordPress’ summary for 2010.

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 110,000 times in 2010. If it were an exhibit at The Louvre Museum, it would take 5 days for that many people to see it.

In 2010, there were 320 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 582 posts. There were 675 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 39mb. That’s about 2 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was January 13th with 762 views. The most popular post that day was Vancouver’s Olympic vegetable gardens.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were newsweekjapan.jp, twitter.com, stumbleupon.com, facebook.com, and tinyhousedesign.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for tokyo green space, 2010, bonsai, pygmy goats, and olympics 2010.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Vancouver’s Olympic vegetable gardens August 2009

2

About Tokyo Green Space May 2009
37 comments

3

Bonsai Museum and Shibamata with Nodai July 2009
3 comments

4

Inspiration August 2008
8 comments

5

Links August 2008

City people connecting with the people growing their food

The last post about Big Globe reminded me of two recent dinners I attended in Tokyo and Kanagawa which featured food with visible and interactive connections to the farmers who produced them.

The first was a mochi party at the ceramic studio where I am a student. Their annual mochi party used special rice grown by Niigata farmers. The teachers found them online last year, and this year along with the huge bag of rice, they included the above image showing the family that creates the rice. I like how they also include a QR code.

The other event was a lavish dinner hosted by a Japanese architect friend that featured Kyushu pork fed a persimmon diet. The dinner included seven courses all of which included pork and persimmon, including an amazing sweet-and-sour and a tonkatsu with cream cheese and persimmon inside the batter. Both at the party and in the email invitation, we learned about the River Wild Ham store, and how it used fallen organic persimmons from Kakinoya farm as feed. The taste was astounding.

Given the discussion of technology in the previous post, it is interesting how these rural farmers are connecting with city people with online stores, blogs, QR codes, and Flickr accounts. I do not fully understand the “21st century rock and roll heart” branding, but clearly the pork store wants to be contemporary and relevant to today’s buyers.

Lastly, I realize that more and more vegetables in Tokyo now include images of the farmer. Well, given how industrial most farming is, I wonder how accurate some of these images are. Still, I think it is part of a broader interest by city people to know where their food comes from, how it is made, and who is making it.

Swerve blog post about my talk

Japanese architect Kuwahara Shigeru blogged about my recent Pecha Kucha talk. It’s the first architect review and the first Japanese language review of my work. Kuwahara-san is a talented architect and bright thinker, and I am flattered by his interest.

I will excerpt his Swerve blog post, and link to the full post.

おしゃべりしナイト。

友人がプレゼンするからと誘って貰い、久し振りにPecha Kucha Nightへ と遊びに行ってみました。その盛況振りには非常に驚かされましたが、分野も様々にバラエティー溢れるプレゼンター、とても面白く有意義な時間を得る事が出 来ました。(ペチャクチャナイト:20枚のスライドを見せる事ができ、各イメージについて20秒間だけ説明することが出来る。20×20=400秒約7分 間が持ち時間。クライン・ダイサム・アーキテクツが主催し、今や、世界300都市でこのイベントは行われ日々拡大している。)

そこでは、スターも異端児も関係ない、同じ土俵、同じ持ち時間。英国・ハイドパークパークの「スピーカーズ・コーナー」のように、誰もが自分の持論を自由にぶちまけることが許されています。

友人Jared Braiterman氏は、外交関係評議会(米国の超党派のシンクタンク、政策決定などに大きな影響力を持つ)のメンバーであり、昨年より日本に拠点を置かれている。日立や東京農業大学の研究員としての顔も持つ。彼の視野は広い。

今回の彼のプレゼンは、Tokyo Green Space/東京の小さな緑と 題し、都会の中で、緑地をどのように感じ、育み、楽しんでいけるのか、あらゆる角度から可能性を探っていこうとするモノであった。これだけの国際社会に なって、外人も日本人もないが、やはり我々が普通にやり過ごしていることに目が止まるようだ。アイロニーなユーモアと温かい楽観的な視線が、コンニチの東 京を伐る。

Continue reading on Swerve blog.

Biodiversity Remakes Tokyo

The Huffington Post published my article entitled “Biodiversity Remakes Tokyo.” I will become a regular blogger, so if you like the article please leave a comment on the Huffington Post, post it to your Facebook account, or Tweet it to your friends. Thank you!

Here’s the first four paragraphs:

The Copenhagen UN Climate Change Conference addresses unparalleled environmental crisis and the need to transform our relationship with nature. Many people assume that nature has no place in the city. On the contrary, cities are central sites for a sustainable, post-industrial era that supports population growth and a high quality of life. Biodiversity and urban forests can thrive with concrete and people.

Ordinary gardeners and environmental visionaries in Tokyo, the world’s largest metropolis, are improving urban life for human and environmental benefit. While mainstream environmentalists work to save distant forests, urban innovators are creating new shared places that connect city residents to the environment and each other. Successful strategies include maximizing limited resources, engaging urban dwellers, and sharing daily life with plants and wildlife.

Tokyo’s size, density, lack of open space, and past policy failures paradoxically make it a model for rebuilding mature cities and designing hundreds of new cities. Along with climate change, the world faces unprecedented urbanization, reaching 60% of the world population or 5 billion people by 2030. African and Asian urban populations will double between 2000 and 2030.

To make cities sustainable and attractive, limited resources must be used for maximum benefit. Tokyo already offers vibrant and safe street life with relatively small private spaces. Because of usage fees and public investment, more daily trips are made by transit, walking and bicycling than automobile. And large numbers of often elderly residents tend gardens spilling out from homes into streets. With minimal horizontal area between homes, Tokyo residents are experts in blurring public and private spaces, and growing vertical gardens in even the narrowest openings.

Click to read the full story on the Huffington Post.

Two young Nodai alumni

Suzuki Hokuto Nodai alum makes traditional gardeners' clothes

During the Tokyo University of Agriculture’s fall festival, the Garden Design Lab of the Landscape Architect Sciences department hosted a reunion for alumni under 35. I met two fascinating alumni who had studied at Nodai in the late 1990s. Alumnus Suzuki Hokuto (鈴木北斗), has a shop called Kyouen Store that sells traditional Japanese gardeners’ clothes and supplies, made of denim and using a special dye that repels mosquitos. There are even cool explanations of the different components, including tabi, kyahan, jyouba, harakake, momohiki, koikuchi, and tekkou. The site is in Japanese but the photos give you a good idea of what the clothes look like. The photo above is jyouba and below tekkou, which I have seen Kobayashi Kenji Sensei of Sinajina use. His landscape design firm is Kyouen.

Suzuki Hokuto's tekkou at Kyouen Store

I also met  Satou Koutarou (佐藤光太朗), who has a landscape business Iloha 1128 and also creates art from unbaked soil. It seems related to ceramics but somehow is not fired. He has a cool blog, and a gallery of his art work.

Satou Koutarou art gallery

10,000 Blog Page Views

10,000 Blog Page Views

Over this past weekend, the Tokyo Green Space blog surpassed 10,000 page views. Begun in August of 2008, blog traffic has been exponential in the past months, with this current month reaching 3,500 views.

It is a great pleasure that the blog’s themes– the remarkable green spaces of Tokyo and the value of urban ecology– have resonated so widely. The international audience includes ordinary gardeners, researchers, professors, students, urban planners, landscape designers, environmentalists, government and corporate leaders.

I welcome all comments in all languages, including Japanese. ありがとうございます。