Chris Berthelsen

Old housing “danchi” has rare mix of gardens and wildness in posh Aoyama

aoyama_danchi_hollyhock_ginger
青山団地には、珍しい庭と荒地が混ざっています。ここに来ると、いつも@a_small_lab を思い出します。

Always reminds me of @a_small_lab

Tanuki night-time portrait, with Tokyo Olympic cloth featuring attractive African American athletes

chrisb_tanuki_us_athletes_tokyo_olympics

タヌキさんが大好きな青山団地で、夏の夜にピクニックをしました。アメリカの黒人選手が写っている1964年の東京オリンピックの布は、タヌキの袋でしたが、今はカメラのふろしきとして使っています。タヌキさんの奥さんが作ったオリジナルお面は今外国人の高校生が持っています。

My super-extroverted tanuki co-conspirator, Chris Berthelsen, has relocated to New Zealand. It was touching that at our last public outing his special feature consisted of a 1964 Tokyo Olympic cloth featuring African-American athletes. Although not clear from this poor photo, the setting is Aoyama Danchi, one of tanuki’s favorite urban wild spaces.

Thanks, Chris, for all the creativity and boundary hopping. I was also super happy to hear that the original tanuki mask, made by Chris’ wife, is now in the possession of a Dutch teen in Tokyo.

Come on a tanuki adventure with us at Shibaura House next Tuesday

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Please join @a_small_lab and me for a tanuki adventure next Tuesday, July 9, noon to 1 pm, at Shibaura House. Details below. Many thanks to Shibaura House for their support.

SHIBAURA HOUSEに来て、江戸時代から有名なタヌキさんに会いませんか? 2人の外国人が、タヌキさんをまた東京に呼び戻したいと考えています。東京メトロに乗ってタヌキが友達を作る企画(http://wp.me/piwM0-23e)は、ロンドンのテクノロジー関係の学会で承認されました。スマートフォンがなくても、タヌキさんは友達を作ることが上手です。
今回SHIBAURA HOUSEで開催するイベントでは、こんなことを一緒に考えます:都市に、動物は必要でしょうか。野生で予測できないものは、都市の生活に大事でしょうか。
一緒にちょっと冒険してみましょう。参加費は無料。イベントはランチタイムに開催します、自分のお弁当を持ってきてください。

Please come to Shibaura House to meet the famous tanuki from Edo. Two foreigners want to welcome shape-shifting tanuki back to Tokyo. Their photo story about Making Friends with Tanuki in the Tokyo Metro was selected by a London technology conference for its unusual real-time interaction. How come, even without a smartphone, tanuki is so good at making friends? Why do we need animals in cities? What is the importance of wild and unexpected things in our lives? Please bring an open mind and your own bento. Let’s go on an adventure.

Making Friends heads to London with tanuki

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Making Friends has been accepted for a tech-focused London conference on ethnography and business. This poster is a mash-up of real-time research, storytelling, and prank. Making Friends tests the boundaries of inter-species friendship while risking rejection and misunderstanding.

Please share this poster with anyone who might be interested. We are also seeking a design school, corporation, or other organization that would be interested in hosting a Making Friends talk, workshop, or consulting project.
Below we explain what Making Friends is about and the benefits for creativity, visual story-telling, and risk-taking. It also includes the anonymous conference reviews that are confused and appreciative. Thanks, as always, to my co-creator A Small Lab‘s Chris Berthelsen.
Click to enlarge, or download the 2 page PDF that  includes the poster, sponsor benefits, and anonymous conference reviews. Thanks for joining us in improving the world’s Making Friends abilities.
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Farming the City includes our chapter on Tokyo local fruit

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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

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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.

See Tokyo by water, including Japanese garden, funny boat, & historic Asakusa

With A Small Lab‘s Chris Berthelsen, I’ll be leading an afternoon tour tomorrow of Tokyo Bay and the Sumida river for Still City, an exciting workshop hosted at Shibaura House with international participants interested in urban design.

Anyone is free to join us tomorrow, or to use the itinerary on your own at any time. I like the layers of history visible when viewing Tokyo as a once great waterway, and the current reverberations of last century’s apocalyptic earthquakes, war bombing, surrender, and reinvention. The centuries old Japanese garden uses salt water from the bay for its ponds, there will be early fall folliage, and we will ride Himiko, the crazy boat in the photo above.

Still City is a Dutch-Japanese workshop looking at opportunities suggested by viewing Tokyo as emblematic of post-growth urban life. It’s supported by the Japan Foundation and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with its local embassy.

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Still City Tokyo Program: Tour (30 Oct. 2012) — Tokyo by Water with Jared Braiterman of Tokyo Green Space and Chris Berthelsen of A Small Lab

Overview: We’ll visit a traditional Japanese garden near Shibaura House, recall Tokyo’s river heritage on a water bus up the Sumida River, and explore Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s oldest neighborhoods. A frugal afternoon exploring a few still spaces in this churning megalopolis. Spontaneous picnicking, beers from final-generation liquor stores, and foraged city food are all possible.

1. Enjoy a traditional Japanese garden: Meet at Hamarikyu Garden at 1.00 pm (Nakanogomon Gate entrance)
Hamarikyu Garden is an Edo-style garden situated between the glass high-rises of Shiodome and Tokyo Bay. A traditional Japanese garden dating back hundreds of years, this spot by the bay played a critical role in the negotiations between US General McArthur and Emperor Hirohito in settling the war and the fate of the imperial family. Perhaps they partook in duck hunting together, a ruling class pastime marked with a religious shrine.
Where: Hamarikyu Garden is a short walk from Hamamatsuchou, Shimbashi, and Shiodome stations, about 2 km from Shibaura House. You can easily walk from Shibaura House, or take the Yamanote line or the Yurikamome monorail.
Cost: 300 yen admission

2.  Boat up the Sumida River to Asakusa: Meet at Hinode Pier’s Waterbus Station at 2.45 pm
The water bus from Hinode Pier to Asakusa takes about 40 minutes. Going upstream on the wide Sumida River, you can experience Tokyo’s river heritage, and see a good part of eastern Tokyo, including the new Sky Tree. For those new to Tokyo and even for those who live here, viewing Tokyo by boat is a rare and fun event.
Where: Hinode Pier is half way between Hamarikyu Garden and Shibaura House. There’s also a Yurikamome monorail station there.
Cost: 720 yen. Boat leaves at 2.55 pm.

3. Explore old Tokyo at Asakusa: Arrive by water bus at 3.30 pm
Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s oldest neighborhoods. It has been less gentrified in the post-war years, and retains an old Tokyo feeling. We’ll check out a shrine, a market, and some back street gardening. Time permitting, we’ll stop at a neighborhood bathhouse to relax after the tour. Feel free to return at any time.

Return to Shibaura House: Take the Toei Subway Asakusa Line to Mita station, then walk. 18 min on express train, 210 yen.

東京ローカルフルーツについて記事がGreenz Japanにでました

@a_small_lab @jessmantell と一緒に、Greenz Japan東京ローカルフルーツの研究の話をしました。@SayakaFelixさんのおかげで、持続可能性に興味を持っている日本人の方たちと会話ができます。

@a_small_lab, @jessmantell, and I spoke with Greenz Japan about our research on Tokyo Local Fruit. I was glad to see our ideas, images, and preliminary research results published in Japanese. Greenz is an online magazine and community focused on sustainability in Japan.

How to entice tanuki “racoon dogs” to return to Tokyo

最近、東京ローカルフルーツのジェス(@jessmantell) とクリス(@a_small_lab) とタヌキが東京に来るタヌキの研究をしています。動物建築というコンテストに提案を送って、もうすぐ記事がオンライン出ます。この新しい研究所の名前は、「the Studio for Creative Revitalization of Tanuki Urban Manifestations, or S.C.R.O.T.U.M.」です。

渋谷で写真撮影をしました。タヌキが渋谷川から東京に入ってきます。東急グループの新しいヒカリエを訪れて、渋谷駅のDean & Delucca でコーヒーを飲みます。そして、サラリーマンに健康的な息抜きと逃避の方法を教えています。

Tanukis are real and mythic animals that once inhabited Tokyo, and are now primarily found as large ceramic statues outside local bars and restaurants. Tanukis are shape shifters, with a special superpower emanating from their floor-scraping scrotums.

My Tokyo Local Fruit co-instigators, Chris Berthelsen (of A Small Lab) and Jess Mantell (of Edoble), and I have been thinking about this subject through a contest submission for Animal Architecture and related articles to be published online soon. We’re calling our new research effort, the Studio for Creative Revitalization of Tanuki Urban Manifestations, or S.C.R.O.T.U.M.

We would like to encourage more urban human/non-human cohabitation, and are inspired by what a tanuki-friendly Tokyo would look and feel like. Here are some images from a recent photo shoot in Shibuya. Jess will add to the images to suggest new scenarios of interaction and play.

You could imagine tanuki entering the big city by river, and then interacting with the human inhabitants.

Tanuki visits Tokyu Corporation’s new Hikarie shopping complex, has a coffee at the Dean and Delucca outside Shibuya station, and encourages office workers to find healthier ways to relax and escape.

Please contribute to Tokyo Local Fruit study

東京の地元で出来た果物を食べたり、育てたり、分け合ったりしていますか。地元で取れた、非商業の果物に関する話を集めています。あなたの話を聞かせてください。

アンケート:http://bit.ly/yVlIOI

Do you eat, grow, or share local fruit in Tokyo? We are collecting stories about Tokyo local, or non-commercial, fruit. Please share yours.

Survey: http://bit.ly/yVlIOI

Image: Jess Mantell. Project partners: Jess Mantell and Chris Berthelsen.

ここの話, Koko no hanashi: Talking about Here

The incredibly prolific, creative, and productive Chris Berthelsen has launched a new public project, called ここの話, Koko no hanashi: Talking about Here. It’s an amazing, low tech and also analog project that creates community dialogue about public, publicly visible, and abandoned urban spaces. He’s prototyped it this week in western Tokyo, and you can read about it online and follow its progress through Twitter and a mailing list.

Talking about Here relies on a simple framework: placing a laminated sign and a simple question, like “Why can’t we use this park at night,” to invite neighbors to discuss very local spaces that are shared, visible, or under-utilized. People can respond using the QR code, or by simply writing in the notebook that is attached to the sign with a pen. Responses will be collated on a stripped down blog specific to each location.

The five initial locations are an interesting mix: a bleak park in front of a factory (run-down, official), a friendly neighborhood park which has been declared a ‘night no-go zone’ (well-kept, official), a park under an elevated freeway (run-down, secluded, official), an abandoned car in an apartment complex parking lot (illegal use), and a deserted house on a school route (run-down, private property).

The prototype just went up this week, and there are many questions: Will the signs be taken down? Will officials contact Chris to question his actions? Will neighbors use the QR code or notebooks to record their feeling and memories? Will neighbors be interested to read what other neighbors record?

I am always amazed at Chris’ imagination and ability to make things happen, with low fidelity tools and a bit of daring. We have worked together in creating the Tokyo DIY Gardening project, including the blog and collaborative mapping workshop last August at 3331 Arts Chiyoda. I believe he’s now got four projects launched in his spare time, all of which are shared freely online.

I have asked Chris if I can participate in Phase 2 of this project. I already have a few places in mind: a beautiful abandoned wood house with a garden that is minimally maintained by a neighbor, a pedestrian path that is heavily used and sitting above an old creek, my neighbors’ fruit trees. It might be interesting to ask property owners if they would like to have a sign that seeks comments about their public gardens. I wonder what the reaction will be?

Tokyo-DIY-gardening project launches!

I am super-excited to let everyone know that in partnership with the amazing Chris Berthelsen of Fixes, we have launched a new project called Tokyo-DIY-gardening. There is a website where we hope others will contribute. You can follow our Twitter  hash tag #tokyoDIYgardening.

And, if you are in Tokyo, please come to our interactive workshop at the new 3331 Arts Chiyoda space where we introduce the project and invite a collaborative mapping and re-imagining of Tokyo as the greenest city full of gardens, plants, and trees. The workshop will be held in Japanese and English on August 21 from 7 to 9 pm.

Chris and I are excited to participate in the Grand Opening series of events at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, and look forward to opening our project to many voices.

Simple wood bench provides resting place at city shrine

On my walk with Chris Berthelsen through Harajuku, Jingumae, and Sendagaya, we stumbled into the Hatomori shrine (鳩森神社). In front of its splendid Noh theater, we noticed several lovely and very simple benches made of logs and what look like giant metal staples. Along with plenty of shade, it’s great this city shrine also provides a place to rest.