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Daffodils are very cheerful. Changing out the ceramic flowerpots.

ラッパスイセンはとても明るいです。陶芸の植木鉢の花を変えました。

It was nice to re-pot my favorite hand-made ceramics with fresh flowers. I love daffodils for being so cheerful, with a high contrast between fresh green leaves and yellow buds.

Giant electric pole dwarfs persimmon & street

東京の中には、たくさんのあまりきれいでないものがあります。とても高い電線は江戸時代の五日市街道の上を渡ります。ごみ焼却炉の煙突や高架道路やマンションの終わらない蛍光灯の列も都市生活に奇妙なリズムをつくります。このとても高い電線の下に柿の実が見えます。

There are many urban sights in Tokyo that are jarring to newcomers, perhaps none more so than the giant electricity poles. Well, there’s also garbage incinerators with tall chimneys in every neighborhood, elevated freeways, endless rows of fluorescent lights stacked high on exposed residential hallways, and the zeal for paving over almost all surfaces.

This photo was taken near Shin Koenji where the elevated main power line crosses Itsukaichi Kaido, a road that dates back to Edo and maybe earlier. You can just make out a silhouetted ripe persimmon fruit. Sometimes these unattractive elements create their own rhythm and patterns in urban life.

Strange performance and installation combines washing machine, tree and city streets

I mentioned earlier the cool new art space called 3331 Arts Chiyoda that has been created in a closed junior high school. One of the fun installations was this classroom with a tree growing in a washing machine, and a video projection showing this unlikely pair being pushed around the neighborhood. Somehow combining these basic city elements and moving them through unexpected environments is comical and surreal.

School gardens

Yokohama junior high school garden, from Goinglocoinyokohama blog

A US teacher’s blog reminded me of the importance of gardens in Japanese public schools. Loco teaches in a Yokohama junior high school, and remarked at how different Japanese and New York school facilities are.

At his school, there are two ponds, turtles, fish, and carefully pruned trees. The gardens are largely maintained by the students and staff. In contrast US students generally have no responsibilities for cleaning their classrooms or maintaining the grounds.

Another feature of Japanese school gardens is the frequent presence of at least one large cherry tree. These trees’ blossoms mark the ending and beginning of the school year in March and April.

In the United States, there is now an Edible Schoolyard movement to bring vegetable gardens to schools as a way to educate kids about food and the environment. The Berkeley California middle school garden was founded in 1995 by noted cook and food activist Alice Waters, who is now advising the Obamas about the organic White House vegetable garden. It would be interesting to bring this school vegetable garden concept to Japan.

Edible schoolyard in Berkeley, California