book

Farming the City includes our chapter on Tokyo local fruit

farming_the_city

来月は、CITIESというアムステルダムの雑誌が都市農園の本を出します。Chris Berthelsen とJessica Mantellと、東京ローカルフルーツについて書きました。@citiesonline をありがとうございます。

Amsterdam-based CITIES is releasing Farming the City on April 10. Chris Berthelsen, Jessica Mantell, and I contributed a chapter on Tokyo local fruit. Please check it out online or on Facebook. Great illustration!

http://citiesthemagazine.com/2011/farming-the-citypublication/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/FARMING-THE-CITY/210595722313289

Don’t miss a child’s perspective on Tokyo streets, and a close look at the spiders around us

childscalecity_smalllab_button

友人のクリス・バーテルセンが、デジタル本を二つ出しました。その一つは、子供の視点で、東京の路地を探ります。おもしろい話や地図や写真と一緒に、都市生活を新鮮な視点で見ています。もう一つは、クリスの息子のとんか君が、家の近くに居るクモの観察をする、という内容です。日本語と英語で書かれています。よろしくね!

My super-prolific friend Chris Berthelsen has released two small self-published stories. The first is “Child Scale” or “Rainy Day Treasures” about how Tokyo streets look, smell, and feel for kids. Chris’ writing, mappings, and photographs follows a rainy day walk to the local public bathhouse with a four year old. It’s a rich observation and reflection on play and creativity. The street is the ultimate shared space in our cities, for a variety of ages, walking and transit. After reading Child Scale, I’ll pay more attention to the “floorscape” than my usual rushing or daydreaming.

Child Scale is just $3.50. You get a 112 page download, with A5 print and screen resolution PDFs. The Huffington Post and Atlantic Cities have already referenced this digital booklet. It will be enjoyed by those wanting to think more about Tokyo, urbanism, children, play, and creativity.

childscalecity_smalllabThe second booklet is by Chris’ son Tonka, who writes about his Tokyo Spider Research. It’s a 19 page booklet that examines spiders found inside and nearby a Tokyo apartment. Tonka’s handwritten notes and photographs provide a detailed document about some of the small creatures sharing our urban lives. The booklet is in Japanese and English, and will certainly inspire you to look more closely at the あimmediate environment around you. It’s just $2 for the download.

spider_research_tonka_berthelsen_smalllab

Which part is most useful for making friends? Tanuki makes guest appearance at morning story-telling

S.C.R.O.T.U.M.の来校!大型絵本でたぬきの「ともだちづくり」の力についての発表です。
先生のコメント:「お父さんのお話は、何と、自作の大型絵本!たぬきの体の一部分は、とてもすごい能力があり、それを使って友達も簡単に作れそうです。たぬきの魅力を再発見できました。また、大型絵本も寄付してくださり、いつでも見られるようになっています。ご来校の際は、是非、ご覧ください。」

S.C.R.O.T.U.M.‘s Chris Berthelsen spreads the word of inter-species friendship to a local elementary school and leaves a gift of a large format picture book for future reference. We were impressed by the teacher’s acceptance of our presentation of inter-species friendship, and her enthusiasm to make it top news in “this week’s newsletter”. Not many families, and (I think) zero fathers take part in the tradition of ‘morning storytelling’. They’re all too busy. Hopefully the positive write up will encourage them to take a morning off from their work.

The book itself is a one-off production – a quickly printed out selection of S.C.R.O.T.U.M’s Animal Architecture submission with Jess Mantell, and Jared’s “Making Friends” photo montage. We were inspired by the enthusiasm of the children and their incisive questions, especially “so what part of the body does the female tanuki use to make friends?”. We are now in an ongoing (and legal) study with this bright 8 year old girl.

Tokyo Fruit Layers article, in Italian and English, included in Limno’s 76 Libbre e XVI Soldi

最近イタリアで出版された本に、私たちの「東京フルーツ・レイアー」という短い記事が出ました。図表と写真も一緒に載っています。この本はベネチアの砦についての記事が中心ですが、全体の話題は、文化と自然が重なる層についてです。「東京フルーツ・レイアー」の日本語のバーションもあります

My Tokyo Local Fruits partners Chris Berthelsen and Jessica Mantell and I responded to an open call from Limno, an independent Italian research center that investigates landscapes. They included us in their elegant book 76 Pounds and XVI Coins (76 Libbre e XVI Soldi) that investigates the cultural and natural layers of Venice’s Forte Marghera, built by Austrian and French invaders. Our article on Tokyo Local Fruit ends the book.

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.

New book features global artists & cultural figures talking about favorite places in Japan

Travel Guide to Aid Japan」という本は3.11の後、外国人にもっと日本を訪れるように勧めます。この本の編集者が、僕の「のんべい横丁」の写真を使いたいと連絡してくれました。世界の芸術家や作家やファッションデザイナー41人が、日本で一番好きなところについて書いています。この本に参加できたのがうれしいです。

I just received my copy of Travel Guide to Aid Japan, a stylish book with 40 artists, writers, fashion designers, and other cultural figures recommending their favorite places to visit in Japan. The WAttention editor had asked me recently for permission to use my Nonbei Yokocho photo, and it’s amazing how fast the book went to print. The foreward is by Alex Kerr and participants include Tokyo’s Jean Snow. I was glad to participate in this book.

Pleasures of Tokyo trains and subways

東京の電車と地下鉄は分け合う空間です。時々、居心地の悪いときもありますが、いつも東京的で面白いと思います。

It’s hard for people outside Tokyo to imagine what using Tokyo transit is like. The busiest station, Shinjuku station, handles over 2.5 million users per day, more than any other station in the world. And, yes, early morning rush hour and the last trains around midnight are not comfortable. This photo is from 10:23 am on a Saturday morning in the Marunouchi line, and you can see that the train is quite full.

What does it feel like to be surrounded by so many people on your way to work, school, errands, or fun?  Office workers, school children, families, construction workers, teens, dogs in bags, babies, elderly people. I find it exhilarating, intimate, and educational. Mostly people pretend they are in their own space and do not look directly at others. Courtesies include taking children’s shoes off before letting them stand on the cushioned seats, and drying umbrellas to keep the train clean.

Many people hide behind earphones, portable game players, comics and books. Others are sleeping. Yet there is no mistaking that you are in a shared space, one person among masses going about their lives. If you keep your eyes open, you can sense that others are also quietly observing. Taking the train is a good way to get out of your own head space, and sense other people’s moods, fashions, and presence.

Chapter on city branding with new green spaces

都市ブランド設定についての新しい本が出版されました。緑の空間についての章を書きました。機会があったら、読んでくださいね。今のところ英語版だけです。

Palgrave Macmillan‘s new City Branding book includes my chapter on city branding with new green spaces. Amazon’s says it’s in stock, but I am still waiting for the publisher to send me a copy. There are many chapters I am looking forward to reading, including Roland Kelts’ chapter on Tokyo (@rolandkelts). Many thanks to Keith Dinnie for editing this volume.

Preface; K.Dinnie
Foreword; B.Baker
PART I: THEORY
Introduction to the Theory of City Branding; K.Dinnie
Branding the City as an Attractive Place to Live; A.Insch
City Branding and Inward Investment; A.C.Middleton
City Branding and the Tourist Gaze; G.Hospers
City Branding Partnerships; S.van Gelder
City Branding and Stakeholder Management; A.Stevens
Paradoxes of City Branding and Societal Changes; C.Ooi
City Branding through Food Culture – Insights from the Regional Branding Level; R.Tellstrom
City Branding and Sustainable Urbanism; J.Braiterman
Online City Branding; M.Florek
PART II: CASES
Introduction to the Practice of City Branding; K.Dinnie
The City Branding of Accra; A.Ebow Spio
The City Branding of Ahmedabad; S.Nair
Athens City Branding and the 2004 Olympic Games; M.Fola
The City Branding of Barcelona: A Success Story; J.C.Belloso
Chongqing’s City Branding – The Role of Graphic Design; F.Lau& A.Leung
Edinburgh City Branding; K.Wardrop
The Hague, International City of Peace and Justice; B.Hulleman& R.Govers
Kuala Lumpur City Branding; G.Musa& T.C.Melewar
Lisbon City Branding; J.Freire
The City Branding of Montevideo; P.Hartmann
New York City Branding; P.Bendel
Paris City Branding; J.Kapferer
Seoul City Branding; K.Y.Kyung
The City Branding of Hong Kong; T.Loo
Strategic Planning Director for China at Mediaedge:cia
Sydney City Branding; G.Parmenter
Tokyo’s City Brand; R.Kelts
Wollongong City Branding; G.Kerr

Azby Brown reads from Edo book in San Francisco

My friend Azby Brown will be reading from his new book at four events in San Francisco next week. I highly recommend attending his book talk if you can. Azby is a great speaker, and an accomplished architect, writer, and designer based in Japan.

The book is Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan, and it portrays how Japan overcame environmental crises with sustainable farms and cities 200 years ago. The book is very informative about what we can learn today from the past, illustrated with hundreds of hand-drawn illustrations, and very engaging. I reviewed the book in the Huffington Post a few months ago.

Here’s the schedule for the book talks:

Monday, June 28, 7 p.m.
The Green Arcade
1680 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94102-5949
(415) 431-6800
http://www.thegreenarcade.com

Tuesday, June 29, 5:30 reception/6 p.m. talk
The Commonwealth Club
The Commonwealth Club (The Gold Room)
595 Market Street
San Francisco
Telephone: (415) 597-6700
http://tickets.commonwealthclub.org

Wednesday, June 30, 6:30 p.m.
University of California, Berkeley
Rm 112, Wurster Hall (southeast corner of the Berkeley campus)
Title: “The Edo Approach to Sustainable Design”
Tel:(415) 317-0533

Thursday July 1, 12:00 noon
SF AIA
130 Sutter Street, Suite 600
San Francisco
(415) 362-7397
http://www.aiasf.org

Azby Brown’s book, Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan

I recently read Azby Brown’s book, Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan. Brown is an architect, professor, author, and expert on Japanese traditional and contemporary building design. This new book explores ecological principles of late Edo Japanese life (about 1800) and their relevance to sustainable living today.

The book mixes three levels of information: detailed descriptions of rural and urban life focused on farmers, carpenters and samurai; hundreds of amazing drawings of ecosystems, houses, tools and objects of everyday life; and finally reflections on how modern society might emulate a zero waste society that fed a population of 30 million including over a million living in Tokyo. By focusing on social structure, farming, transportation, forest management, urban planning, and domestic life, Brown explores how Japan was able to maintain the environment, including clean water, and avoid many of the diseases that plagued European cities of that time.

Brown provides a remarkable analysis of how natural resources were used by this growing population without harming the environment. Some notable examples include limiting forest extraction to fallen limbs and what can be carried on a person’s back, an irrigation system in which the resulting water was filtered and cleaned by rice fields, a transportation system that relied on human and water transport rather than animals, the role of courtyards as shared space for commoners, and samurais’ reliance on urban farms to make ends meet.

Viewed from today’s post-industrial times, it is remarkable to think that Edo Tokyo has a huge tree canopy and significant urban farming, and that zero waste included re-using night soil as fertilizer with a higher price for those of daimyo lords and for entertainers whose diets were richest. By carefully showing how Edo people lived, Brown is able to show how architectural elements like the endogawa porch can be used today as a way of connecting interior and exterior, residents and visitors. Modular and multi-purpose rooms are other features that would make living today both more efficient and comfortable.

My only criticism is Brown’s focus on the ethics of sustainability. I believe that pleasure and ecology must go together, so that making better choices is about improving life not about “doing good,” which is often a poor motivator. Brown does mention some of the coercive features of Edo life that would not be attractive today, such as infanticide as a population control method. For our times, I think the challenge is to both persuade people to embrace zero waste as a lifestyle improvement, and at the same time enact new policies that reflect the true costs of agro-industrial “cheap” food  and fossil fuel reliance built.

Current policies promote bad choices, including subsidizing corn sugar despite the health consequences, and hiding the true cost of fuel by externalizing the endless wars that guarantee our supplies, the free roads that encourage sprawl, and the pollution and climate change caused by emissions.

Brown’s book Just Enough will be thought-provoking for those interested in Japanese history and culture, and those engaged in a new global dialogue about a sustainable post-industrial future. His research, analysis and images provide new inspiration for a revitalized relationship between farms and cities, people and nature.

City and Country, 1970s and now

“The Japanese think of the City in the way that Englishmen used to think of Mighty London. It is either one or the other. Rice paddies or the Ginza.” (p35)

I am reading the wonderful author Donald Richie’s The Inland Sea, first published in 1971. Richie is the ultimate American expat in Japan, who stayed from the start of the Occupation until today, and this is a classic travel book focused on Seto Nai Kai (the Inland Sea), which I recently visited.

This passage struck me because Ginza Farm, which I have visited for Tokyo Green Space, overcomes the division between city and country by bringing a rice paddy to Ginza, Tokyo’s most celebrated commercial district full of De Beers, Cartier and now of course Uniqlo flagship stores.

Richie’s The Inland Sea also reminds me of the recently deceased French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’ Tristes Tropiques, which chronicled an Amazon on the verge of extinction. In a similar voyage by boat, Richie bemoans the new highways and lure of the city that threaten the fishing economy and general isolation of these islands and peoples. What used to be called “salvage anthropology” clashes with contemporary feelings by focusing on purity and what is about to be lost. This antique attitude also portrays the writer as both the “first” and last foreigner to capture a vanishing culture, creating a false sense of importance for the individual writer.

Despite this unease, it is hard not to enjoy Richie’s beautiful writing, his insights on insider and outsider culture, and his only partly closeted attraction to Japan. And I do not doubt the gulf that once existed between city and country, which makes the current urban interest in rural life and agriculture all the more indicative of profound social and environmental change.

On a related topic, I read this week in the New York Times that Korea, which is generally more accepting of national diversity, is having difficulties integrating children of mixed marriages. Most mixed children are the progeny of Korean farmers and their Chinese, Filipino and Thai wives. Partly the social question is of race, but also of class and city versus country.

I was struck that Korea shares Japan’s rural abandonment, and seems ahead of Japan in responding through immigration. Perhaps Japan, too, will first open its doors to immigrants willing to live in its rural areas now inhabited almost exclusively by the elderly. Despite Japan’s xenophobia, immigrants as care-givers and farmers seem more likely than the techno fantasy of robots: more cost-effective as workers and more human in terms of care and culture.

Train museum prompts ordinary behavior

Shibuya fake train

Just outside Shibuya station, next to the famous Hachiko statue, is a single train with wonderful photographs of how the station area has evolved in the past hundred years. What amazes me is that in crowded Tokyo, a museum train prompts most visitors to relax and behave as if they were in a real train. Apart from one woman studying the exhibit and one man representing the exhibit, the other “passengers” are acting like typical Tokyo train riders: two salary men sleeping, two people reading books, and a couple talking with eachother. Below gives you an idea of the context of this non-moving, perhaps hyper-real experience.

Shibuya fake train