favorite

Pink and white azalea in private garden visible from the street

azelia_nakano二色のツツジが大好きです。この家で育っている花が路地から見えます。

This two color, pink and white azalea, is one of my favorite spring flowers.

Flower wall house, from street to roof, brightens a bare spot in Nakano

最初のフィルムに、一番好きな中野と新宿の庭の写真をとりました。飯島さんの花の壁はとても素敵です。Plant Journal という雑誌の記事に、インタビューをしました。訪ねたときに、飯島さんは、「今、何も咲いていません」と言っていました。フィルムなので、イメージが古く見えますね。

For my first roll of film, I took photos of my favorite gardens in Nakano and Shinjuku, plus my own balcony garden. In the foreground above is Iijima-san’s flower wall house. He has 500 hundred potted plants, mostly flowers, rising from the street to the roof. I interviewed Iijima-san for the Plant Journal article I wrote recently.

His first sentence in greeting us was, “There’s nothing blooming now.”

It’s funny how using a film camera makes the image itself look older. The texture and colors in this image seem so different than the bright and flat images I am now accustomed to seeing with digital images. In the next days, I’ll put up more images from this first roll.

Daffodils are very cheerful. Changing out the ceramic flowerpots.

ラッパスイセンはとても明るいです。陶芸の植木鉢の花を変えました。

It was nice to re-pot my favorite hand-made ceramics with fresh flowers. I love daffodils for being so cheerful, with a high contrast between fresh green leaves and yellow buds.

Espaliered persimmon in front of Aoyama school

「espalier」というフランス語の意味は木を垣根仕立てにすることです。東京ではちょっと珍しいですけど、混雑した都市の中で、この二次元にされた植物は適切です。最近、学校の前に背の高い垣根仕立てにした柿の木を見ました。

I am a big fan of espaliered trees. By pruning a tree into a 2D shape, it fits into the dense urban landscape. Here’s a mature, espaliered persimmon tree in front of a public school in Aoyama. I wonder if the kids will eat the fruit.

I am going to be posting this week different fall fruit trees I’ve seen over the past few weeks. What is your favorite urban fruit tree?

New book features global artists & cultural figures talking about favorite places in Japan

Travel Guide to Aid Japan」という本は3.11の後、外国人にもっと日本を訪れるように勧めます。この本の編集者が、僕の「のんべい横丁」の写真を使いたいと連絡してくれました。世界の芸術家や作家やファッションデザイナー41人が、日本で一番好きなところについて書いています。この本に参加できたのがうれしいです。

I just received my copy of Travel Guide to Aid Japan, a stylish book with 40 artists, writers, fashion designers, and other cultural figures recommending their favorite places to visit in Japan. The WAttention editor had asked me recently for permission to use my Nonbei Yokocho photo, and it’s amazing how fast the book went to print. The foreward is by Alex Kerr and participants include Tokyo’s Jean Snow. I was glad to participate in this book.

Bright yellow bush is favorite in Tokyo rainy season

ビョウヤナギは梅雨で一番好きな東京の草です。明るい黄色のはなびらや軽い風で動くおしべがすてきです。立ち直りがはやい草です。ほかの都市でもこの草が育っていますか?

Biyou yanagi (ビョウヤナギ) is the perfect Tokyo rainy season bush. The flowers radiate with color when the sky is often overcast. Each flower produces dozens of delicate stamen that catch the smallest breeze, and the bush overall seems very hardy for urban life, with very attractive leaves. I think its Latin name is Hypericum monogynum. This one’s growing in the section of my apartment building garden that an elderly couple takes care of.

Does this bush grow in your city?

My favorite Japanese garden flower in fall

秋に咲くツワブキは伝統的な日本庭園の花です。栽培しやすくて、とてもきれいです。

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.

Potted plant in bicycle basket

It’s awesome that someone has parked their bike illegally in Nakano’s Sun Mall after the shops have closed. Did the bicycle owner leave the potted plant in the basket, or did a stranger deposit it there? The city has a million stories, and this one combines two of my favorite city companions.

Aoki Yoko’s favorite places on Google Maps

Aoki Yoko's favorite places on Google Maps

Google Maps has introduced a new Favorite Places series highlighting global cities with places chosen by local visionaries, designers, museum directors, architects, environmentalists, artists and entrepreneurs. Above is Aoki Yoko’s favorite places in Tokyo and Japan; she’s the founder of cafeglobe.com. Some of her favorite places include urban community farms, old-growth Tokyo forest, a farmers’ market, and a natural springs park that is a firefly habitat. Other Tokyo experts include geek blogger Danny Choo, a flower artist, cameraman, and Shitamachi priest. A very cool introduction to global cities and places you might not know about.