These photos are from this year’s rather cold cherry blossom season, which meant easier access to some of the best spots. I love the difference in scale between the old trees and the people they attract. I also love how prepared the city is to manage the expected crowds of tree lovers.
Wrapped in rice stalks to protect them from the cold, these tall sidewalk cycads add an element of traditional Japanese gardens to a large city street. I love the craft and care visible in the wrapping, and the shapes look almost human. I included the photo below to show off the fantastic 1960s or 1970s architecture of the residential building nearby.
I bike down a back street to visit my favorite Shin Koenji coffee shop. I pass several temples with well maintained gardens. The long entrance looked particularly elegant on a cold, sunny day. Just to the side of the gate, a plum tree is blooming.
Tanuki offers visitors from the Netherlands warm gingko nuts and hot espresso on a cold night in Yoyogi.
蒸し暑い天気のときに一番涼しいところは、冷たい川の中です。@a_small_lab と @jessmantell と御嶽に行きました。東京にあんな自然がまだあります。実がついたバナナを見て、驚きました。
In summer’s heat and humidity, the best place to be is in a cold river. Recently I met up with @a_small_lab and @jessmantell at the Tama river up in the foothills of western Tokyo. At Mitake, you can feel that you are in the mountains while being still in the city. It’s about an hour and a half by train from central Tokyo, and the water is cold!
I was very surprised to see bananas growing by the river. The fruit is now forming.
This winter seems to never end. So I biked over to the local home center recently, and loaded up on bright flowers including daffodils, tulips, stock, and this amazing lupinus. I am familiar with it as a very handsome deep blue flowering perennial, native to North America, that becomes a bush. I’d never seen it in candy colors and bred for maximum floral display. It’s at once familiar, odd, and just the right antidote for more cold days.
Even on the briskest cold days, it’s such a pleasure to cross Shinjuku Gyoen. The bare cherry tree in the foreground, reflections, and upside down landscape and sky are dazzling on a clear day.
Freezing temperatures and icy streets are keeping me indoors. But I am always amazed at how much still grows in Tokyo’s winter months. The most spectacular and surprising is this large citrus called “hassaku.”
For years I believed general comments about how the fruit is too sour to eat. Then I participated last year in Edoble’s hassaku marmalade-making. This tree can be seen everywhere in Tokyo, so it must be well suited. I like how it’s both decorative and edible!
In Tokyo, it rarely snows, and when it does, it’s usually gone within minutes or at most a day. It’s been super cold recently, and there’s been ice on the roads for some time now. Please be careful on bike or on foot.
I am drawn to white flowers for winter gardening. They evoke snow, and also add brightness to the cold days.
The cold weather brings clear skies. You can watch as the snow gradually starts out as icing on Mount Fuji, and then covers it entirely for winter.
Happy new year!
One advantage of a very small apartment is that two of our three small rooms face the balcony with a wall of windows. You don’t need to make a special trip to observe what’s going on in the garden. It’s always there. As it gets cold, I spend more time inside.
Near the gallery where the Shiho ceramic show is held each year, there’s a small real estate office with an amazing collection of at least 50 cactuses. This year, I noticed that when it rains the realtor brings most of them inside, and covers a few outside with plastic.
The office definitely has more cactuses than customers. I am delighted by this plant lover’s dedication. When it’s cold, he brings many in for the night. Given how heavy and thorny the plants are, he’s obviously very dedicated to his passion.
The same week I participated in the Umi no Mori tree planting, I had the opportunity to re-visit Yume no Shima, Tokyo’s most famous artificial island made of waste. This urban development started in the 1950s. Now it’s a vast area with a sports club, botanic garden, playing fields, semi-wild palm landscape, a marina, and a still functioning incinerator. It’s showing its age with deferred maintenance and sparse usage.
I love how it’s named “Dream Island.” This time I visited the botanic garden. On the outside is a row of papaya trees, which I thought too tropical to grow outdoors in Tokyo. There’s also a row of ceramic frog planters leading to the front door. A green house is a great place to go on a cold day, like a brief tropical holiday at very low cost.
Details: March 27, 2011 at Shiho ceramic studio, Suginami