Black Marilyn Monroe featured in aging commercial corridor


This small commercial strip, near the center of Nakano, seems semi-abandoned.

Front door decorations made by hand celebrate the new year


Here is the new year’s decoration (shimekazari) I created at Shiho studio for our front door. Although there’s a common look to commercial ones, including these at Muji, there’s a lot of variety in terms of shape and materials.

Below is Kuge sensei’s lovely arrangement at the entrance to her studio. The tiny black ball with three colorful petals is a traditional toy played with a badminton-like shuttlecock.  shimekazari_kuge_studioLongtime Shiho studio student Hagiwara-san led the workshop and provided these amazing materials, including red berries, pine, paper, and seed pods.

hagiwara_shimekazari kuge_yoshiko_meg_shimekazari

Ginkos connect an old street with decades of layers


Ome Kaido is a large boulevard in my neighborhood that dates to Edo times when this area was largely fields. I like how the ginko trees provide a unifying element to a heterogenous streetscape of  abandoned post-war buildings mixed with newer commercial, residential and even light industrial buildings from every decade since.

Directly across the street from this corner is a ten story office building. I noticed the roof-top sports facility years before I recognized the logo at the entrance that marks it as the headquarters of one of Japan’s leading adult content companies.

Tomato starter plant already has mini-tomatos


This tomato starter plant, also bought at Shimachu, is flowering and already has several mini-tomatos despite its tiny size. So much engineering to create commercial food, even the ones we grow ourselves.

More fake flowers and leaves

Fall leaves at the supermarket

I have posted before with some sympathy for how ordinary Tokyo people express their desire for public, urban nature, even with fake flowers and real ivy in plastic bottle containers in such unlikely places as a Metro men’s room. I have more ambivalent feelings about the widespread retailing use of fake leaves to signal fall.

Above is a photo from my neighborhood supermarket. Is nature not signaling seasons clearly enough? Are plastic plants the best the supermarket can do to mark seasons. What about seasonal foods and vegetables? Are these leaves stored, washed, and brought out the next year?

Pachinko fake flowers

The second image is from a neighborhood pachinko parlor. This one mixes an abundance of fake flowers and sexy female imagery to attract attention and customers. I have a feeling that these flowers might have looked better when first installed, and that they may remain next to the Metro station for many more years to come.

North Vancouver and Edible Boulevards

Edible Boulevard in North Vancouver

The City of North Vancouver is considering an innovative plan proposed by the Green Skins Lab of the University of British Columbia to create edible boulevards. The idea is to combine commercial vegetable farms with social spaces within the city. Some features include biointensive farming, on-site energy generation and rainwater harvesting.

Like many cities, North Vancouver zoning currently prohibits commercial farming within city limits. However, the city government is reconsidering this industrial age policy as part of its 100 year sustainability plan. It is an interesting mix of food production, small business and job creation, community space, and aesthetic improvement.

edible boulevard edible boulevard city government meeting