Japanese kids love to use nets to capture small wildlife. This net can be used to capture kabuto mushi beetles on land, and also crayfish in creeks.
It’s always fun to walk along this public path on the Shinjuku side of Shinjuku Gyoen. Shaded by tall trees, it’s a pleasant escape from the hard urban surfaces. There’s even a reconstructed creek to evoke the springs and rivers that used to flow naturally here.
I like how this very common and hardy camellia brings some life to a concrete patio in a Nakano back street. I wonder who placed it there and keeps it well pruned.
I can easily imagine a jungle growing between these older commercial buildings, a living food alley with scent and maybe a small creek bed. As it is now, this space between buildings functions as a giant chute for capturing rainwater, which then travels many kilometers and must be processed, alongside sewage, before being released into Tokyo Bay.
At least someone working or living there is decorating and enjoying the space.
Tokyo University of Agriculture Professor Suzuki is planning a firefly habitat at a junior high school. Each year, teachers and students from the Tokyo school visit Gunma to study fireflies. This year I was also invited.
Fireflies need clean water and darkness. According to Professor Suzuki, creating habitat in the city also requires a “social design.” The temple, cemetary, and senior center near the school are also invited to participate.
When we arrived at Kawaba-mura, the school girls weeded a rice field and played with frogs and crabs in the creek. Even though they are city kids, the students are very brave.
At night, we saw Genji fireflies and Heiki fireflies. There are a lot of fireflies on the edge between the forest and the rice field.
We stayed at a hotel called “Nakano Village” which on the inside is Japanese modern style, and on the outside the building looks like part of the hillside. It was designed by the famous Sakakura Associates.
Kawaba mura has many apple orchards, and recently they are also growing blueberries.
The trip made me think of the following:
I have seen some lovely roses walking in Tokyo recently. The red one above is from the border between Sakuragaoka 桜丘町 and Uguisudani 鶯谷町, a leafy upscale neighborhood ten minutes from the world famous Shibuya pedestrian crossing (called scramble, スクランブル in Japanese). I like how this red rose has escaped a private garden and is now attaching itself to the street mirror meant to prevent collisions.
The yellow rose is from a house in Nakano, near a pedestrian walkway built on an old creek. I wish all roses had fragrance, but whenever you see roses, it is hard not to feel cheerful.
There are many small creeks in Tokyo that have been turned into pedestrian paths. In my neighborhood, they are modestly landscaped. In Shinjuku, there’s Shinjuku Yuhodo Koen Shiki no Machi (新宿遊歩道公園四季の道), an amazing green corridor with mature trees between the department stores of San Chome, Hanazono Shrine, the packed bars of Golden Gai, and Kabukicho.
Oddly, my very detailed Tokyo City Atlas does not include the path’s name. It’s easy to miss it, but once inside it feels like a magical passageway, full of life during the day and at night. Green corridors take up minimal space, and are perhaps more useful than small parks since provide a path between places.
Just in time for hot and humid summer, Shinjuku Gyoen has opened a newly planted mini-creek along the edge of this fantastic park. Shinjuku Gyoen is one of my favorite gardens in central Tokyo, but its small entrance fee makes it seem like more of an outing than just a casual visit. That’s what makes the small edge park running along the northern side (by Shinjuku 1-chome) so wonderful.
The path extends about a kilometer between the Shinjuku gate and the Okido gate. The mini-creek is clearly artificial, and surrounded by new plantings. Signage explains some connection to Edo history. If you are in the neighborhood, I highly recommend walking through this shady path and enjoying the running water. Be warned, however, that the path, like the park, closes at 4:30 pm.
The other half of the walkway has not been renovated. However, since it’s closer to the business district, you often see business people enjoying this quiet space or just taking a break from the office.