interactive

Nakano and Koenji are nowhere in the new Tokyo Metro tourist poster

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外国人の観光客のために、シンプルな東京メトロの新しい地図ができました。観光客は山手線ばかりを使ってしまいます。中野と高円寺が入っていません。

Tokyo Metro, in one of its first large communication efforts for foreigners, has helpfully simplified Tokyo transit for those ready to go beyond the Yamanote JR loop line and the Sobu-Chuo metro commuter lines. Cool Tokyo, Night Life, Metropolitan Luxury, and Cultural Fusion are newly invented geographies with some suggested destinations.

I am secretly glad not to see Nakano and Koenji on the map. We can be “off the radar. I also wonder how well the tiny interactive Journey Planner works. The initial screen looks like the map threw up on itself in four languages. I guess it’s a start.

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Interactive map of Tokyo DIY Gardening

Chris has taken images from last month’s Tokyo DIY Gardening workshop at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, and created an amazing interactive map of Tokyo green space.

Using photos, pens, markers, origami, and other stuff, 30 participants drew a giant collaborative map of Tokyo’s existing and imagined green spaces. In this interactive version, Chris shows off the final map, which was two by four meters, with detailed images of 46 spaces.

Beyond our initial ideas, the collaborative map produced a huge  variety of green spaces at many different scales, all of which make or could make Tokyo a livable city. We are planning to further document this mapping workshop, including other layers and voices, and we’d like to share it with a wide audience. Please feel free to link to it, leave comments, and share with others.

Tokyo-DIY-gardening project launches!

I am super-excited to let everyone know that in partnership with the amazing Chris Berthelsen of Fixes, we have launched a new project called Tokyo-DIY-gardening. There is a website where we hope others will contribute. You can follow our Twitter  hash tag #tokyoDIYgardening.

And, if you are in Tokyo, please come to our interactive workshop at the new 3331 Arts Chiyoda space where we introduce the project and invite a collaborative mapping and re-imagining of Tokyo as the greenest city full of gardens, plants, and trees. The workshop will be held in Japanese and English on August 21 from 7 to 9 pm.

Chris and I are excited to participate in the Grand Opening series of events at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, and look forward to opening our project to many voices.

Meeting Yamada Yoriyuki at Kajima

Recently I met with Yamada Yoriyuki (山田順之), Manager of the Office of Global Environment at constructino company Kajima and a leader in bringing biodiversity ideas to Japanese corporations. He showed me the new interactive illustration Kajima created of an integrated sustainable city, where bees pollinate community gardens, school fields are mowed by goats, falcons provide crow control, rivers support animal life, hospitals have healing gardens, and plants and animals contribute to a better environment.

Yamada’s vision for new urbanism is holistic, with the widest variety of wildlife improving human life. Contrary to the government’s minimal regulations, Yamada boldly states, “I am not interested in greening.” Instead of applying green to existing projects, Yamada emphasizes habitat and culture. Habitat requires links between insects and birds, bees and food, trees and birds, clean water and fish. As an anthropologist, I was also pleased to hear Yamada emphasize culture as key to creating social change in cities. Yamada cites the importance of “eight million kami” (ya-o-yorozu no kami or 八百万の神), a Shinto belief in animism and the presence of spirits in an infinite number of natural beings and materials.

In addition to working with Kajima and the Japanese Business Initiative for Biodiversity, Yamada is very hands-on. He explained how he monitors honeybees on Kajima’s Ikebukuro dormitory using GPS and biking along a 2 kilometer radius. From his observations, he sees urban honeybees avoiding park and street trees because pesticides have made them unsafe, and preferring instead small gardens grown by residents.

Yamada also cites the Japanese Pygmy Woodpecker as a key indicator species. Because it travels relatively short distance, urban habitat requires a series of interconnected parks and street trees creating a green web. I find this idea of the ecological connection between large public spaces and individual gardens very inspiring.

I also highly recommend the article he co-authored: Kumagai, Yoichi and Yoriyuki Yamada. “Green Space Relations with Residential Values in Downtown Tokyo: Implications for Urban Biodiversity Conservation.” Local Environment, Routledge Press, Vol. 13, No. 2, 141–157, March 2008.