Ikebana International asked me to write about Tokyo street gardens and share my photos for their member-supported publication that dates back to 1956. Thanks to the editor Kim Schuefftan for allowing me to reach a very different garden audience. I am curious what Ikebana International and Tokyo Green Space readers think about the article, Tokyo Street Gardens: Unrecognized Beauty (7 page PDF, 1.4 MB). Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 24-30. 2014.
I have had the pleasure of visiting Sinajina three times in the past three weeks: to talk with Kobayashi sensei about a project with the Portland Japanese Garden, to take a class with TEDxSeeds organizers, and to visit with my Newsweek Japan editor. In every visit, the store is set up differently, and the most seasonal bonsai are most prominently displayed.
Last weekend, the rose and mountain hydrangea perfectly capture the turning of the season from late spring to early summer. These bonsai are perfect in shape, buds just opening, and contrast with pot, gravel, and moss.
I also like the contrast between these plants and the hollyhocks I featured yesterday. All of them are seasonal flowers, yet they differ in scale and degree of human care. I like to think that urban nature extends from the wild and unruly to the groomed and domesticated.
Over the next two months, I will be regularly contributing blog posts to Creative Cities, a project by the British Council focused on creative cities in the UK, East Asia, and Australia. Under the direction of Australian arts director and editor Jess Scully, the Creative Cities brings together some exciting ideas from thirteen countries about the role of creative cities in our changing world.
This month, the focus is on sustainable cities, and I am looking forward to the discussion generated by the contributors and readers. My first post describes the very Japanese mix of otaku (geek) culture, old traditions, and environmental activism as Akihabara maids plant and harvest rice. I am excited to be in this exciting East Asian and UK discussion of the role of creative cities in solving problems and making our lives better.