combination

Scenic combination of Showa window and Chinese parasol tree with pods

昭和時代の窓と大きいアオギリの木は素敵です。今、薄緑色の花がたくさんついています。東京にはもっと古い建物と熟成した木がいります。

Near our apartment is this older house with a deciduous tree that fills out in the summer. I love the bunches of light green pods it produces. Sadly there are not enough old houses or old trees in Tokyo. When you see this combination in Tokyo, it’s at once nostalgic and perhaps futuristic.

Ever resourceful Jason at Flora Grubb Gardens identified it by photo as a Firmiana simplex, Chinese parasol tree in English or aogiri (アオギリ) in Japanese. A quick visit to Wikipedia taught me that it’s an ornamental tree related to cacao. It’s within the same plant family as cotton, okra, hibiscus, and abutilon.

A freeway runs through Odaiba

お台場の駅から浜に行く途中で、この大きな高速道路を渡らなければなりません。空いた所有地のほうが開発されたものより多いです。だから、出入り口のふたつが放棄されて、そこに植物が育っています。浜からの景色は楽しいです。港やスカイラインやレインボーブリッジや小型の自由の女神が見えます。この組み合わせはちょっと奇妙です。

Exiting the subway station in Odaiba, the way to the famed “beach” with city view includes walking past vast parking lots and then over this eight lane freeway.

What’s amazing about this view is that in addition to the enormous freeway, there are abandoned ramps on both sides, that are gradually being reclaimed by plants. Is land so value-less that this waste is considered appropriate?

There are still more empty than developed parcels on Odaiba, an urban development project with mixed results. The focus on freeways, parking lots, and chain restaurants and stores often makes it feel like a generic exurban landscape.

I hear that it is a popular place for dates. But I’ve been there only three times in as many years. Most recently I was there to get a ride to Umi no Mori for a volunteer tree planting day (more on that later). But a few extra hours gave me my first taste of Odaiba itself.

Once across the freeway and past the mall, there are some beautiful public spaces including an artificial beach. There are views of the port, the Tokyo skyline with the Rainbow Bridge, and some odd built decor that includes a mini Statue of Liberty on land.

Air plants in bonsai pots

エアプラントと盆栽の陶芸の組み合わせ はどうでしょう? 史火陶芸教室の展示会のために、いろいろ盆栽用の陶芸を準備しました。不思議な組み合わせですけど、エアプラントの形と遠い起源を考えると楽しいです。さらに取り出しやすいので、鉢をよく見ることができます。

Preparing for the Shiho student show last month, I wondered how to show off the bonsai pots I made this year. I tried one with only gravel, and another with a tiny succulent. My favorite is perhaps the oddest combination: air plants. I like their shapes and their distant origins in a different climate. And I like how you can easily take them out and examine the pot. What do you think about this combination?