Did I mention how much I love Taipei?


Plants growing everywhere, people building shacks and hanging out on rooftops, narrow alleys.

My smallest fruit tree



On my Tokyo balcony, I am growing fig, olive, banana, and this persimmon bonsai. It’s my smallest. I took photos of it last year at the same time.

Is this Shinjuku sidewalk “nanohana” edible?


It’s spring, and vegetables are growing spontaneously on Tokyo’s sidewalks.

Neon yellow mushrooms growing wild in container garden on Tokyo balcony


No matter how planned or controlled, even a balcony container garden gets volunteer plants. These mushrooms are neon yellow.

I am amazed that no stranger has yet eaten these sidewalk cherry tomatoes Chinese restaurant on busy sidewalk

Outside a Chinese restaurant on busy sidewalk.

Blueberry bushes also turn color in fall

Did you know that blueberry bushes also turn color in fall? This year for the first time I am growing blueberries. Such beautiful fall foliage surprised me.

Spectacular maple tree grows in street with no visible soil


This is the maple tree that shed the leaves on yesterday’s photo of the tiled steps. I am amazed that this tree survives despite the fact that the roots and the pavement join with no gap. Where does it find water, or nourishment? Tokyo really is a great place for growing, and its resilient plants show how much is possible.

Summer is loquat season in Tokyo


Everywhere I walk in Tokyo, I see loquat trees (called biwa in Japanese 枇杷) on the sidewalks: planted between the sidewalk and roadway, next to a Royal Host, coming out of a shrine. Loquat seems well adapted to Tokyo, and it’s great to see such huge trees full of orange fruit and accessible from the street. I have to keep my eye out to see if the neighbors eat them.

Summer vegetables growing on the sidewalk

Walking down a large boulevard in Higashi Koenji, I was surprised to see these potted vegetables on the sidewalk. In addition to ginko trees, this street has many azaleas between the vehicle lanes and the pedestrian sidewalk. In this spot, there’s a semi-permanent row of pots. But these eggplants and tomatoes are an extra row that someone temporarily set up.

I love how seasonal and impromptu this vegetable gardening is. And, after almost two years in Japan, I am still startled that people can place plants they love on the street, and no one eats the vegetables, vandalizes, or steals the plants. A city that’s safe for vegetables and plants is one that also welcomes people.

Growing rice on small street in plastic buckets

Rice growing in small bowls

One of my neighbors cultivates her entrance and the side of the street along her building. Recently she showed me that she is growing rice in three small plastic buckets. I am impressed with this small bit of urban farming, so evocative of Japan’s agriculture and scaled for the city.

Her small garden spans public and private space, and is constantly changing by season; last month was hydrangea and peony, now rice and roses. She is constantly present on the street taking care of her plants and chatting with passer-bys. Her presence is reminiscent of the urban life created by Baltimore “stoops,” marble block steps, yet without the steps.