house

At the start, the demolition truck is still empty

demolition_nakano_start
取り壊しの初め、トラックは空っぽです。青いタイルの家も左隣の家ももうすぐ取り壊されます。

The houses to be demolished are the Showa-era one with blue roof tiles and the neighboring house on its left.

Wide canal packed with with boats, bridges, elevated highways, and a trace of pre-industrial Edo

shibaura_ichome_canal_showa_cluster

この運河の景色は素敵ですね。戦後の建築の歴史が見えます。幅が広い運河は産業革命前の江戸時代を呼び起こします。自然な感じがします。都市は有機体だと思い出させてくれます。大きい都市はいつも少しずつが変わっていきます。芝浦一丁目で。

I love this canal view, the layers of visible history in buildings, and the wide water that evokes pre-industrial Edo life. Even the regrettable additions, like the elevated freeways, show how Tokyo constantly evolves not through great design but by continual addition to what was already there.

There is so much transportation infrastructure on this wide canal in Shibaura Ichome. I also love how the small post-war house at the corner has been built up over the years with additions, and then surrounded by a taller modernist office and more recent, larger buildings that are more about function than form. There’s something very calming about seeing this large expanse of water, and a view of how Tokyo became layered with new structures over time.

Abandoned local house has super-sized garden plants

abandoned_house_hydrangea_nakano

廃墟になった家のまわりに、だれにも世話をされていない庭がどんどん大きくなっています。アジサイはかなり背が高いと思いませんか? 東京では、一年中雨が降ります。

This is one of the tallest hydrangeas I have ever seen. It’s growing outside this once handsome house near where we live. Tokyo’s ample year-round rain make it easy for plants to survive without our help. I’m hoping they won’t tear down the place soon, because this wild garden only requires being left alone.

Old Showa house, empty lot, 1960s small factory in shadow of Roppongi Hills

六本木ヒルズの後ろに、まだ古い工場や昭和時代の住居が残っています。

In the shadow of Roppongi Hills, one of Tokyo’s most expensive neighborhoods, there are still old factory buildings, Showa-era two story houses, and even empty lots alive with weeds. This mix of scale, land usage, and non-design is delightful.

Mechanical claw gobbles up Showa history

日本語では「パワーショベル」と言いますね。昭和時代の家にさようなら。

Living in Tokyo you become used to the continual process of demolition and new construction. Not the ten or twenty year boom and bust cycles I’ve seen in San Francisco and New York City. Even in the perpetually shrinking Japanese economy, Tokyo continues to morph and grow. The photo is from the demolition of a post-war Showa house in Nakano, a residential neighborhood. It will undoubtedly be replaced with a multi-unit structure made of pre-fab materials and slightly customized, standard layouts.

Closer to my house, I’ve seen the local liquor seller vacate his main storefront, which was replaced by a brand new 7-Eleven in less than four weeks. I watched the incredibly fast work to the interior, modernizing a 1970s storefront into the faceless, placeless space of a convenience store. They also installed enormous heating and cooling structures on the roof. I was glad to see that the liquor store owner has retained an adjacent, closet-sized space for his liquor sales. He seems to enjoy interacting with the neighbors.

How long will this abandoned wood house last?

マンションの前にあるこの放棄された木造の家はいつまで持つでしょうか。

In front of our apartment building is this picturesque but abandoned wooden house. It’s beautiful, but I don’t think it will be there for long. On the main street, I watched an old liquor store turn into a 7-Eleven convenience store in less than 1 month.

Flower wall house, from street to roof, brightens a bare spot in Nakano

最初のフィルムに、一番好きな中野と新宿の庭の写真をとりました。飯島さんの花の壁はとても素敵です。Plant Journal という雑誌の記事に、インタビューをしました。訪ねたときに、飯島さんは、「今、何も咲いていません」と言っていました。フィルムなので、イメージが古く見えますね。

For my first roll of film, I took photos of my favorite gardens in Nakano and Shinjuku, plus my own balcony garden. In the foreground above is Iijima-san’s flower wall house. He has 500 hundred potted plants, mostly flowers, rising from the street to the roof. I interviewed Iijima-san for the Plant Journal article I wrote recently.

His first sentence in greeting us was, “There’s nothing blooming now.”

It’s funny how using a film camera makes the image itself look older. The texture and colors in this image seem so different than the bright and flat images I am now accustomed to seeing with digital images. In the next days, I’ll put up more images from this first roll.

Wood house recalls an earlier time in Suginami

背の高い木がある木材の家に住んでみたいです。杉並区にあるこの家のデザインは、明治時代か大正時代の建物みたいです。

I love walking by this wood house in Suginami. It’s a relic of an earlier time: a large wooden house, mixing Western and Japanese architectural elements, and a large garden. Seeing a remnant from the past makes it easier to imagine what this area once looked and felt like. I’d like to sleep under these huge, old trees.

Another old house and garden surrounded by new construction in Shibuya

この渋谷で見つけた自宅と庭園も昭和時代の生き残りです。隣の建物の規模とはとても対照的です。

I like how this Showa house, with its manicured garden, has somehow survived in Shibuya. Near NHK headquarters. The difference in scale with its neighbors is striking.

Small house borders large empty lot and some greenery. How did this post-war house survive, and how long has the neighboring lot stood empty?

この小さな戦後に建てられた家は、東京の終わらない再開発を生き残りました。手前の大きな空き地が、どのくらい空いていたのだろうと思います。

This small post-war house has survived Tokyo’s constant re-development. I wonder how long the large empty lot in the foreground has stood empty.

Blue salvia, wood house, and bicycle

青色のサルビアと自転車と木造の家がかっこいい景色を作っています。庭というよりも、カジュアルで、気取らない、たくましい都市自然です。

Casual, unplanned, resilient. The city has a life of its own: season, history, transportation, housing, color, and mood.

Two plants cover home in central Tokyo

2つの植物が家を完全に覆ってしまいました。混雑した都市の中で、簡単な壁の庭がぼくたちを元気づけてくれます。
I am so impressed with the utter simplicity of this residential garden. Using practically no space, this vertical garden consists mostly of one well trimmed magnolia tree and a vine that screen the home. I don’t know whether credit should go to the rain-soaked climate or a smart home-owner. This house shows what’s possible in terms of ample plant growth in the most minimal of urban spaces. With more of these gardens, Tokyo would see lower summer temperatures, more wildlife, and a great quality of urban life.

Honeybee pollinates beautiful snowbell tree in central Tokyo

写真のまん中にミツバチが見えます。エゴノキという木から、胡弓という楽器が作られます。西麻布で家と路地の間に、このきれいな木が育っています。

If you look in the center of the photograph, you can see a bee pollinating this Japanese snowbell tree (styrax japonicus, or エゴノキ). It is planted in the very narrow gap between a house and a small street in Nishi Azabu Juban. I learned online that the wood of this tree is used to make a string instrument called a “kokyuu,” which is similar to a shamisen.

Flowering bush in the rain, outside an abandoned house

梅雨のはじめ、雨つぶと古い見捨てられた家のあいだに、花が咲いています。

At the beginning of the rainy season, flowers bloom between raindrops and an abandoned wood house.

Between my apartment and the main road, there’s an abandoned wood house. I wrote about how the supermarket loading area guard trimmed this tree which once originated in a pot. I think it’s a pittosporum.