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Tanuki arrives at a summer house party with a scrotum full of ice cream

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夏のハウスのパーティーにやってきて、タヌキ袋からアイスクリームを配っています。

 

The loquat tree by the Royal Host is full of almost ripe fruit

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お店で枇杷が5個で700円で売られているのを見たばかりです。JR中野駅の南に、大きい枇杷の木があって、フルーツがほとんど熟しています。食べられると思います。

I just saw a small plate of 5 loquats for 700 yen at the store. On the south side of Nakano’s JR station, next to the Royal Host on Nakano Dori, there’s an enormous loquat tree full of fruit. It’s right above the pedestrian path, and seems to be free for the eating.

Winter snap peas alongside large tool shed

足立区で、物置小屋の隣に元気なスナックエンドウを見つけました。ベランダで私も冬に育てているけれど、こんなに元気じゃありません。うらやましいです。

These snap peas look very vigorous growing alongside a large tool shed in Adachi-ku in December. While visiting the cherry trees of this northeastern section of Tokyo, I was delighted to see these fantastic vines inside a work space visible next to the sidewalk. Last year I learned that you can grow this vegetable in Tokyo’s winter. I wish mine looked so full and so ready to provide many meals.

Old storefront in Shimokitazawa full of plants

下北沢を自転車でぶらぶらしていて、きれいな店先を見ました。ずっと前に、店を閉めましたが、まだ歩道の庭は手入れされています。懐かしい気持ちになりました。
Biking in Shimokitazawa, I was struck by this old storefront partly covered in plants. There’s an impressive accumulation of pots, stands, and small trees. In a city of constant demolition and rebuilding, it’s nice to see this relic of the post-war period: clean architectural lines with aging wood and metal fixtures. It seems like the shop closed long ago, but the resident maintains the garden right up against the street.

Twilight over Nishi Shinjuku with almost full moon

暑さと高い湿度のために、東京の夏の日中はちょっとたいへんです。
けれども、夏の夜は歩くのが楽しいです。夕暮れは特にきれいです。この写真は、数日前、月がもうすぐ満月の時でした。西新宿の上に出ていました。

Summer days in Tokyo are difficult with the heat and humidity, but evenings are very pleasant for walking and getting around. Twilight is especially beautiful now.

Pleasures of Tokyo trains and subways

東京の電車と地下鉄は分け合う空間です。時々、居心地の悪いときもありますが、いつも東京的で面白いと思います。

It’s hard for people outside Tokyo to imagine what using Tokyo transit is like. The busiest station, Shinjuku station, handles over 2.5 million users per day, more than any other station in the world. And, yes, early morning rush hour and the last trains around midnight are not comfortable. This photo is from 10:23 am on a Saturday morning in the Marunouchi line, and you can see that the train is quite full.

What does it feel like to be surrounded by so many people on your way to work, school, errands, or fun?  Office workers, school children, families, construction workers, teens, dogs in bags, babies, elderly people. I find it exhilarating, intimate, and educational. Mostly people pretend they are in their own space and do not look directly at others. Courtesies include taking children’s shoes off before letting them stand on the cushioned seats, and drying umbrellas to keep the train clean.

Many people hide behind earphones, portable game players, comics and books. Others are sleeping. Yet there is no mistaking that you are in a shared space, one person among masses going about their lives. If you keep your eyes open, you can sense that others are also quietly observing. Taking the train is a good way to get out of your own head space, and sense other people’s moods, fashions, and presence.

Small plum tree bonsai in full bloom

お店の外で、盆栽の梅がのんびりと咲いています。

I love how this extravagantly blooming plum tree is sitting outdoors at night, unprotected and unmindful of its surroundings.

[Date: March 3, 2011].

Giant sidewalk sunflowers in full bloom

These giant sidewalk sunflowers are in full bloom and towering over the pedestrians. I am amazed by their height, and the cheer they bring to this marginal space between the sidewalk and street in Sendagaya. They are much taller now than just a few weeks ago.

Bonsai shadow

Taking care of bonsai trees makes you pay more attention to details. I love how this tiny Japanese maple’s shadow accentuates its twisty, thin trunk. I am thinking about how best to prune it once the leaves get bigger. I don’t want it to get too tall or too full around the length of the trunk. This is my first bonsai, purchased last summer at Sinajina. There’s an older post of its fall foliage.

Flowers and buildings

When I walk through Tokyo, I realize that the beauty of spring flowers, and plants in general, are increased by their juxtaposition with the built environment. There’s something about the context that makes urban nature more beautiful and more captivating.

Above are lilacs blooming on May 1 in Tokyo on Yasukuni Dori in Shinjuku, across the street from Isetan’s rainbow circular parking lot. Below are dogwood in full bloom in Higashi Koenji, with a 15 story apartment building behind the tree.

And at a different scale, there is the constant contrast between my potted balcony plants and the city that extends in every direction for as far as the eye can see.