enjoy

If you stick your head over the balcony rail, and look down, . . .

border_balcony_rose_oak

ベランダのレールの上から見ると、普通の庭の境界線みたいですが、ここはバラと樫の木があります。けれど、借景は全然違います。

The garden grows away from the apartment and to the light. One way to enjoy it is by looking over the rail. It looks like  a conventional garden border, this one of rose and oak, but in an unfamiliar position.

Whenever possible, I bike through Yoyogi Park these weeks

yoyogipark_runners_fall_leaves
できるときはいつも、自転車で代々木公園を通ります。最近 、天気がよかったから、楽しんでいる人がたくさんいました。

Whenever biking towards Shibuya or Aoyama, I make sure now to bike through Yoyogi Park. The weather has been beautiful, the leaves just starting to fall, and plenty of others enjoying the sunshine.

Seniors exercise in park in early morning with NHK radio exercise program

elderly_NHKradio_stretch_sugiyamakoen_shinnakano

日曜日の朝早く、駅の近くの公園で、お年寄りの方達が一緒にラジオ体操をしています。

In the very early morning on a Sunday, these seniors are enjoying the local park for exercise and community.

Very pink cherry blossoms, on Good Friday

cherrytree_shinjukugyoen

南米に住んでいたことがあるので、聖金曜日が大好きです。ピンクの花びらと「血の休日」はとても合います。

After living in South America, I always enjoy Good Friday. Glad to offer these super pink petals in honor of a bloody religious moment.

Late crop of eggplants, red peppers, and daikon at Setagaya mini-farm

small_farm_eggplant_redpepper_setagaya_nodai_bike

農大に自転車で行く時、この小さい農園をいつも観察します。最近、ナスとトウガラシが熟していました。

Viewed through a chain link fence, ripe eggplants and chile peppers are growing in a small farm between the road and some apartments. I enjoy seeing this farm on my bike ride to Nodai.

Modular succulent garden outside restaurant

You don’t see that many succulent gardens in Tokyo, probably because of the heavy rain. A restaurant I frequent, Enjoy! East, suddenly sported these two modular units with a lovely succulent garden, and odd message about “farm of the people.”

I wouldn’t call it a farm, but it’s a lovely addition to the sidewalk, and a generous invitation to passers-by to stop and check out the excellent food at Sendagaya’s Enjoy restaurant. It should be super low-maintenance, and with the proper soil it should drain well to keep the plants healthy.

Ivy trained into an X-shape topiary

I love how this ivy has been trained into a perfect X-shape topiary. Clearly following the form of the steel support for the apartment building’s facade, the tidy and even pruning also demonstrates the gardener’s on-going care. This local person must enjoy plants and the opportunity to make something artful in a small space.

Bento and Japanese Beauty

Japanese and German knives

Today’s New York Times has a great “Room for Debate” feature where four cultural experts discuss the beauty of the Japanese bento box. Although seemingly off-topic from Tokyo Green Space, the discussion expresses relevant cultural aesthetics and the importance of beauty, simplicity, and care.

John Maeda, the president of the Rhode Island School of Design, talks about simplicity and making due in an island nation with limited natural resources. I like his view that Japanese value “making less into more,” and traces bento creation to Kyoto food, a fanciful illusion that masks limited food resources.

Bento box

Kenya Hara, art director of Muji and professor of Musashino Art University, talks about shokunin kishitsu, or craftsman’s spirit. By cleaning carefully, working diligently, or preparing lunch boxes with creativity, airport cleaners, construction workers and home-makers make the mundane into something beautiful.

I also like how he claims Japanese have a special ability, “an incapacity to see ugliness,” that allows them to ignore urban chaos, ugly architecture and bad signage. In the drabbest office or construction environment, there is still a space to enjoy a perfect bento lunch.

It is easy to see how some of these ideas are expressed in the beautification of public spaces: ordinary people working within the constraints of an often poorly designed urban landscape, creating small vignettes of beauty with a mix of artistry and care, and sharing these creations with minimal self-importance.