generous

Marui’s new Nakano store offers generous sidewalk

新しい中野のマルイ(0101)は歩道をきれいします。公共の造園がマルイの新しいブランド・アイデンティティになります。

Marui’s new Nakano store offers a generous sidewalk, blurring public and commercial spaces. I love how Marui is making public landscaping its brand identity.

I am super pleased that the new Marui department store in Nakano is building a great entrance. Rather than build up to the edge of the property, Marui has a two-story atrium by setting back its entrance, with four mature trees and hopefully some planter beds. By blurring the line between public and commercial space, Marui will create an engaging sidewalk with plants.

For a short stretch of this narrow sidewalk on the south side of the JR station, there will be plants on both sides.

This store design seems related to the new Shinjuku store landscape, which I blogged last year. That store also has two very popular ground floor food shops (an Italian gelato and French bakery) that are very open to the sidewalk and attractive, new green spaces.

I like to see how smart retailers realize that improving the sidewalk and pedestrian experience will increase business and goodwill. There is no contradiction between generosity and profits. I hope that this public green space becomes a recognizable part of Marui’s brand identity. I’ll definitely check out Marui Nakano when it opens soon.

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.

A public train set in a Zoushigaya garden

My friend Eri, a pianist and music teacher, invited me to go for a walk near her college in Zoushigaya. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I had never been there and it’s close to Ikebukuro, an area that always seemed to me like a lesser Shinjuku. Eri’s tour from Gokokuji to the Kishibojin shrine was delightful: narrow streets, lots of sidewalk gardens, and a Shitamachi feeling. We ended the walk with a warm soba lunch.

My favorite image is this public train set in a rather barren raised garden on a small street across from a cemetery and the music school. The owner left a sign inviting passer-bys to enjoy his battery-operated train. And to please remember to turn it off when they leave. What a remarkably generous idea. I also thought only in Japan would people remember to save the battery; in my city, it would be quickly stolen and resold for spare coins.

I will post photos from this winter walk over the next few days. Below is an image of a small unpaved lane. I like how it has a rustic feel, and you can sense the vibrant life of residents, a carpentry shop, plants and bicycles.