I couldn’t resist buying one of these tiny fig trees for sale at a Nakano flower shop I frequent. Only 700 yen!
Leaving a meeting recently, I walked through some back streets of Aoyama, and came across this amazing sidewalk garden. The contrast between the potted plant garden and the slick glass building was intriguing. The aesthetics, density and plant selection made me realize quickly that this was not an amateur garden.
Inside this amazing vertical forest is Kaza Hana, a florist, garden design company, cafe and bar. The exterior merits further study for its vertical garden construction, its mix of Japanese garden plants and exotics, and masterful mix of color, texture, and form.
Completely enchanted, I decided to relax and enjoy lunch there as well. Inside, the jungle immersion theme continues, with plants everywhere, hanging sculptures, and a flower shop along one wall. I was fortunate to have a long chat with a flower instructor, Yoshida Miho, who later sent me her blog full of wonderful flower photos and a description of her work with plant therapy and “natural life design.”
Yoshida-san explained that Kaza Hana’s owner is a garden designer named Ishihara Kazuyuki (石原和幸). Ishihara-san has won three consecutive gold medals at the world famous Chelsea Flower Show. This fall he will also be showing his work at the 2010 Gardening World Cup this October in Nagasaki; you can see his profile and portfolio on their site. I believe Ishihara-san started as an ikebana designer.
Below are two more images from the shop, and also the intriguing sidewalk garden Ishihara-san designed for the hair salon across the street. I hope to meet Ishihara-san and learn more about Yoshida-san’s work, too.
U Goto Florist in Roppongi is one of Tokyo’s oldest and most luxurious flower shops. The tray above is a stunning summer arrangement of bamboo fireflies, cactus candles and sand. Founded in 1892 and owned by the third generation of the same family, U Goto prides itself on being Western-style and employs three European flower designers trained in Dutch and French flower academies.
Housed in a 1990s company-owned office building near Roppongi Crossing, U Goto is Western- style in a way that only Japanese could perfect. Multi-roomed and multi-layered, the high ceilinged shop includes cut flowers, fake flowers, and potted plants, and also offers flower-arranging classes. Some examples of unusual arrangements and bamboo framing were on display. The shop fittings– stone floors, marble work tables, distressed cabinets, an excess of crown molding that is still somehow rustic chic– evoke Manhattan or Paris.
I was charmed that the staff offered me a demi-tasse of coffee, which gave me the opportunity to carefully observe them arranging and wrapping lavish bouquets of roses, dahlias, sunflowers and orchids in the finest papers. Orchid petals were carefully protected in cloth paper wrappings.
U Goto’s extremely high standards necessitate removing all flowers and plants that are even slightly past peak. Cut flowers are donated to hospitals, and plants to senior centers. The summer window display below would be replaced after the Obon holiday with a fall display, in spite of the continued heat and humidity. One designer was already thinking forward to the Christmas display.