friend

My friend Shige tends his sidewalk garden on a busy street

shige_florishiroko_sidewalk_garden

友達のシゲが大きな道路沿いの歩道の庭を世話しています。お店はFloris Hirokoといって、シゲさんはよく国連大学の前のファーマーズマーケットで花や植木を販売しています。

Shige works at a flower shop called Floris Hiroko, and he often sells flowers at the UNU farmers market.

A pop of color in a river of black and white outfits on crowded sidewalk

shigeki_kunashita_hanami

みんな白黒の服を着ているので、友達の青色の帽子が目立ちます。友達は「ハッセルブラッド」という古いフィルムカメラを持っています。

That’s my photographer friend Shigeki with the bright blue cap and the antique Hasselblad film camera. It was peak day for cherry blossoms at Kudanshita.

 

A few of the many groups that gather together for cherry blossom season

zapolski_cosplay_shinjukugyoen_hanami

お花見に色々な種類の人たちが集まってきます。真ん中は、サンフランシスコから来た友達で、左にはカップル、右にはコスプレのグループが居ます。次も、花見で見た色々な人たちの写真を載せます。

This year I tried to focus on the different tribes that assemble beneath the cherry trees for hanami season in Tokyo. There were some scenes I expected, and many that were surprises. In this photo of Shinjuku Gyoen, my good friend from San Francisco’s back is in the middle, with a couple on the left and cosplayers on the right.

Tokyo street gardeners are rule breakers

東京の路地に小さな庭のスペースを作る方は、一般のルールに従わないところが素敵です。このブログの写真を使って、友達のショウさんがBell Street Filmsと一緒に30秒のビデオを作ってくれました。去年、ショウさんはベランダの庭にデザイン人類学校と東京グリーンスペースについてビデオを作りました。

This 30 second clip features my photographs of flowerpot gardens and stories about their makers, who explain to me how they break the law in order to create safer streets. Last year, my friend Sho’s Bell Street Films made a short video about Tokyo Green Space and design anthropology, shot mostly in my balcony garden.

Where the soup comes from. The weekend farmers market.

favorite_unu_farmersmarket

ここでスープの材料を毎週買います。一番好きな売店は味が美味しくて、並べ方もすてきです。

This fall I started going to the farmers market every week. Usually by bike, and sometimes meeting my friend Luis. This beautifully arranged stall is where I stop first to pick up turnips, carrots with their leaves still attached, green and red peppers, yuzu, lemons, celery, and sweet potatoes. At United Nations University farmers market, in Aoyama, which is open every Saturday and Sunday.

My Tokyo garden and design work is featured in a fashion brand video

このビデオのなかで、スペースの小さなところで庭を作るインスピレーションを、近所の方からもらったことについて話します。友達のショーが作った東京のファッションブランドのPVです。ベランダの庭とデザインの仕事についても話します。

My friend Sho, whom I met in Nakano, created this promotional video for a Japanese fashion brand called ID Daily Wear. You can see that I am wearing their super high-quality and made in Japan pocket t-shirt. But it’s cool that the video also introduces my high-rise garden, the field of design anthropology, and why my neighbors inspire me to document Tokyo Green Space. The photography and especially the editing tell a a big story in a few minutes. The Japanese translation is also superb. Thanks, Sho!

White pansies have bloomed all winter in kintsugi ceramic

史火で友人のマシューが作った金継ぎの植木鉢の中でこの白色のパンジーは冬からずっと咲いています。金継ぎという芸術は壊れた陶器を直すことです。

I love this white pansy and the beautiful kintsugi pot that my friend Matthew made at Shiho ceramic studio. Kintsugi is a technique for repairing broken pottery, and involves painting the cracked lines in gold or silver. They’re have been many continuous flowers for months, even though I never added soil or any nutrients to the store-bought filler plant. Very satisfying and cheerful.

Winter citrus brightens cold days in Tokyo

東京に来たとき、柑橘類の木を見て驚きました。冬に果物が熟成しますが、寒すぎるのではないかと思いました。最初、このハッサクは食べれないと東京の人はみんな言いました。去年カナダ人の友だちが、閉鎖された公立学校の庭でハッサクを収穫して、商店街の人たちと一緒にマーマレードを作りました。装飾にも食用にもなります。

Freezing temperatures and icy streets are keeping me indoors. But I am always amazed at how much still grows in Tokyo’s winter months. The most spectacular and surprising is this large citrus called “hassaku.”

For years I believed general comments about how the fruit is too sour to eat. Then I participated last year in Edoble’s hassaku marmalade-making. This tree can be seen everywhere in Tokyo, so it must be well suited. I like how it’s both decorative and edible!

More persimmons, in Shiho studio’s backyard

この柿の木は史火陶芸教室の裏庭で育っています。二年に一回、果物がたくさん出来ますが、多くない年もたくさんとれます。毎年、義理の母が生徒さんや友だちに果物と果物で作った料理をあげます。秋は柿です。夏はユスラ梅です。東京は、果物の木が多いことを知っている外国人が少ないです。

Many foreigners are surprised just how full of persimmons Tokyo is in the fall. Maybe you’d miss them if you stick to inside the newest malls and corporate developments. But it must be one of the most popular residential trees, and a true marker of fall.

This one is behind Shiho ceramic studio, and the funny story is that my in law teachers say that this year there aren’t so many fruit. Despite being an off year in a two year cycle, there’s actually still quite a lot of fruit. My mother in law is a great cook, and she uses these fall persimmons and also small sour plums in summer for food she shares with students and friends. She didn’t plant these trees but has gotten a lot of use from them in the past ten years.

Some persimmon trees produce fruit that’s best eaten raw, others dried, or cooked into jam or other sweets. For me it’s an acquired taste, but seeing these orange globes dangling across Tokyo is undeniably beautiful.

Sunflowers blooming in fall outside JR station

十月にヒマワリを見たから、驚いた。日本に来たオランダの友達によると、アムステルダムはもう冬みたいだそうです。駅周りに小さい森を作るといいと思います。今のところ、このヒマワリたちが素敵な気晴らしになっています。

I was surprised to see these sunflowers blooming in late October. Dutch visitors @tanemaki2011 reminded me that in Europe it’s already early winter, with temperatures already reaching 0 degrees. For an Amsterdam resident, Tokyo fall is like summer yet better.

There’s currently a lot of construction around the Nakano JR station, with new bus areas, exits, and plazas to support an enormous high-rise office building and tall residential towers. I hope they will radically rethink the public space around the station. It’s the center of communal life, yet now mostly revolves around autos, asphalt, and concrete. It would be great to see a livelier meeting place.

A mini-forest would be inviting. In the meantime, this small field of sunflowers is a welcome distraction.

Fairy white brings Australia to Tokyo

シドニーから来たフェアリー・ホワイトは東京の植木鉢で育てやすいです。

This is the second year that I am growing this beautiful daisy-like cream flower with very soft leaves, Actinotus helianthi, known in Japan as “fairy white” (フェアリー・ワイト). I think it’s odd that a plant that is iconic of Sydney, Australia, where it is called Flannel plant, does so well in Tokyo. My San Francisco gardener friend Hank was amazed to see it in Tokyo. The Wikipedia page suggests it likes well drained soil, so perhaps it was destined to be a potted plant!


Gorgeous winter bonsai gift in kintsugi bowl

友達が新年のきれいな盆栽を作ってくれました。金継ぎをした植木鉢に常緑樹のアセビが植えてあります。

This beautiful, new year bonsai made by a friend matches an evergreen tree with a pot re-made from shards.

I received this gorgeous new year bonsai gift from Matthew Puntigam, a friend and research fellow colleague at the Tokyo University of Agriculture’s Landscape Architecture Science department (農大). It’s a perfect new year gift: the woody bark tree retains its leaves in winter, the beautiful bowl re-created to show its cracks, lush moss and stones from a recent trip to Mie.

The tree is called アセビ (Asebi in Japanese, and Pieris japonica in Latin). My childhood home in the mid-Atlantic United States had a pair of these flowering broad-leaf evergreens by the front door. This specimen is simultaneously showing new growth and flower buds.

The method of putting broken ceramics back together is called 金継ぎ (kintsugi). This pot is one of Matt’s first, which he learned at the Suginami ceramic studio Shiho (史火) where I also make flowerpots and vases. Often gold is used, but I think silver goes very well with the black ceramic and winter bonsai.

Bright red berries on late autumn bonsai composition

友達が作った素敵な景色盆栽は秋を表現しています。それぞれの要素は色々な違う場所から来ています。

My friend’s stylish bonsai composition expresses autumn with elements from distant geographies.

My friend Matthew Puntigam created this bonsai composition last week. It’s a wonderful expression of late autumn: the red berries, sparse leaves, and asymmetry of the plant, and the intriguing composition that creates a fantasy landscape with elements from distant geographies.

The plant is, possibly, called ピラカンサス (pirakansasu) in Japanese, or Pyracanthas in Latin. I like how Matt, a bonsai apprentice, has paired the plant with a stone from Sadoshima (佐渡島), an island in Japan or Korean Sea, depending on your perspective, that served as a penal colony and place of forced exile since the eighth century. The diminutive turtle is of unknown provenance, but the slate is an old roof tile from Matt’s Maryland hometown.

Thank you for the gorgeous image!

Irresistible Nakameguro balcony mushrooms contribute to landscape

だれも都会のキノコの誘惑に勝てない。

Who can resist urban mushrooms?

My architect friend James Lambiasi sent me this photo of Nakameguro mushrooms on a second floor balcony. Do these mushrooms apply to landscape, he wondered? Of course, nature is no less splendid when touched by humans. This lovely, jumbled cityscape- of power lines, bicycles, laundry, exhaust pipe, paper lantern, and fall foliage- is a perfect frame for a double mushroom table and chair set. Thanks, James!