How do they do it on such crowded sidewalks?


Food delivery in crowded Shinjuku.

A pop of color in a river of black and white outfits on crowded sidewalk



That’s my photographer friend Shigeki with the bright blue cap and the antique Hasselblad film camera. It was peak day for cherry blossoms at Kudanshita.


Two plants cover home in central Tokyo

I am so impressed with the utter simplicity of this residential garden. Using practically no space, this vertical garden consists mostly of one well trimmed magnolia tree and a vine that screen the home. I don’t know whether credit should go to the rain-soaked climate or a smart home-owner. This house shows what’s possible in terms of ample plant growth in the most minimal of urban spaces. With more of these gardens, Tokyo would see lower summer temperatures, more wildlife, and a great quality of urban life.

Flowering fruit tree

The days are alternating warm and cool, but already flowering trees are making Tokyo shine with color and beauty. I am not sure what type of flowering tree this is. I think it’s a plum called “eight petal” or 八重梅 (やえうめ). It’s in full bloom along a pedestrian path in Nakano.

From a distance the tree grabs your attention, but standing under it is sublime. Here are two more images: the context in a crowded neighborhood, and hundreds of buds popping open.

Exotic palm trees in Shimokitazawa

Exotic palm trees in Shimokitazawa

On the north side of Shimokitazawa, there is a Hawaiian restaurant with palm trees that are unusual for Tokyo. The tall palm tree with a silver trunk is a Queen Palm, syagrus romanzoffiana, native to woodland Brazil and Argentina and very common in San Francisco and other cold climates. It looks somewhat like a coconut palm.

The restaurant is clearly using these gorgeous palms– along with tiki torches and up-lights lit even during the day, a water fountain, and a wood porch extending to the street– as signifiers of exotic and distant islands. The effect is rather surprising and a pleasant contrast from the neighborhood’s narrow and crowded streets with few real street trees.

Exotic palm trees in Shimokitazawa

The trees look very healthy. I wonder if the restaurant provides special protection in the winter. The small palm tree is also very appealing. It is a Pindo Palm, or butia capitata, native to Brazil and Uruguay. Since it is hardy to 9C (15F), it seems well suited to Tokyo.

Exotic palm trees in Shimokitazawa

Bike removal

Shibuya bike removal

Tokyo has many restrictions on where you can park your bike, particularly near stations. They want to discourage bikes blocking the sidewalks while their owners commute on the trains. In crowded neighborhoods like Shibuya, many bikes are parked too long or abandoned. The police come around and collect them. Since all bikes must be registered, the police contact the owners and levy a fine.