buffer

A walk through Harajuku backstreets on a hot summer day

原宿の路地を歩くと、いろいろな庭を見ることができます。おしゃれな建物のグリーンカーテンや戦前からある伝統的な日本庭園もあります。私が好きな庭はシンプルで、たくましくて、さりげないです。大きな青山団地でトマトとゴーヤを見つけました。

With @luismendo visiting from Amsterdam, my Tokyo DIY Gardening pal Chris and I took him on a tour of Harajuku backstreets looking at gardens, eating tonkatsu, and stopping for some excellent cold coffee.

Harajuku is fun because the residential area has houses and gardens from all or almost all the past eight decades. The Harajuku gardens that appeal to me are similar to ones elsewhere in Tokyo for their simplicity and easy adaptation to urban life. Some results are clearly unintentional.

My photos include a three story garden of ivy and bamboo that covers one house and provides a buffer with its neighbor, a sleek concrete building’s balcony green curtains that are just starting to fill out on two floors, a blue flowering vine that somehow became a giant bush, a tiny entrance garden outside a pre-war house that has been converted into the very elegant Omotesando Coffee.

We also explored the enormous Danchi that between 246 road and Harajuku. This sprawling bauhaus-like public housing project has a wonderfully chaotic and varied set of gardens created by generations of residents. In July, we spotted lots of tomatoes, vertical bitter melon, and these purple gloves on top of an ad hoc garden support.

Giant peonies

Giant peonies, Nakano

With the recent warm weather, these giant pink peonies went quickly from bud to giant pink balls. On one of the lanes I take from my apartment to the JR, I pass this humble apartment whose front garden spills in pots from the tiny patio onto the small street. 

I often see an older woman and sometimes her daughter working in the garden they have created from recycled styrofoam containers and assorted plastic pots. Cymbidium orchids, tulips, geraniums, peonies, and soon roses create a wonderful distraction for passers-by. The owner is at once extremely humble and pleased to get some attention.

To get a sense of the background of the flowers, here’s a photo from further away. You can see the patio flowers share space with the laundry machine and a simple structure for hanging the clothes to dry. The flowers provide a small buffer between street and front door, and soften the hard edges of concrete, asphalt and tile.

Giant peonies, Nakano