My favorite Japanese garden flower in fall


Tsuwabuki is a traditional Japanese garden flower in fall. Easy to cultivate and very pretty.

I love this Japanese garden flower, called “leopard plant” (farfugium japonicum) in English, or ツワブキ. It has bright yellow flowers in October and November, shiny green leaves, grows and spreads easily in shade, and is a traditional Japanese garden flower. This photo was taken at my friend Takada-san’s stunning garden.

Beautiful raphis palms outside of small shop

I love how this small shop on Shinjuku Dori has two beautiful raphis palms outside the storefront. They provide a lush and tropical look and partly obscure the air conditioning unit.  Tokyo has a surprising number of small shops throughout the city, and their owners seem more likely to take pride in their neighborhood and cultivate plants than big chain stores.

Volunteer seats at bus stop

Volunteer seats at bus stop

At many Tokyo bus stops, one can see old seats that have been anonymously contributed to the city scape. Sometimes you see old office chairs that swivel, or recycled dining room chairs. Some weather the rain better than others.

Certainly these volunteer seats provide more function than beauty to the street. A city-funded program would be more consistent and attractive. Still, the care that someone has taken to provide a public amenity where none existed is remarkable. 

Like public greening, volunteer seats at bus stops blur the line between public and private space, and between municipal and volunteer street creation. It shows how city residents cultivate their environment, provide for their neighbors, and make small improvements.