inviting

Can you imagine inviting clients to visit your office *there*?

kabukicho_new_tower_black
このビルにお客さんを招待できますか。

An enormous black slab of a tower is nearly complete in the center of Kabukicho. Who is going to work there? Can you imagine inviting clients to visit your office *there*?

Landscape dead zone in posh Omotesando

なぜ表参道の交差点はこんなに醜いのですか? 表参道のケヤキ通りの近くなのに、一番大事な交差点に植物がありません。歩行者にもっとふさわしい環境を作れるはずです。

Why is this major intersection so ugly? Pedestrians deserve better.

Some people think that Omotesando is Tokyo’s Champs-Élysées. There is an incredible zelkovia tunnel and many posh global brands. However, at the main crossing, just above the Omotesando train station, the aggressively barren non-landscape is shocking. The small in-ground landscape triangle and the four above ground planters contain nothing but dry soil and some lonely weeds.

I wonder how long they will remain this way. In a city where most people commute by train and foot, the areas above stations should be amongst the greenest, with nature being used to make these frequently passed areas more pleasant and inviting.

Late afternoon outside Kichijoji shrine

この吉祥寺の神社の木陰と静けさはとても良い雰囲気です。武蔵野八幡宮という神社は大きくて、木がたくさんあります。神社の前は五日市街道という古い道路です。この道路は新宿と西の街をつなげます。百年前、武蔵野や中野は農園だけでした。

I love this large shrine and wooded grounds in Kichijoji. Towards the end of a summer afternoon, the shadows and quiet are very inviting. The shrine is called Musashino Hachimangu (武蔵野八幡宮), and it’s on an old street that connects Shinjuku with the (now) inner western suburbs called Itsukaichi Kaido (五日市街道). A hundred years ago, Musashino and Nakano were farms, and you can see the kanji for “field” in both of these town names.

Simple materials make an inviting restaurant garden facing the sidewalk

簡単な材料でおしゃれな入り口が作られて、小さなレストランの庭は、通行人が交流できる場所になっています。

It’s lovely to see these flowers outside a small neighborhood restaurant. The set-up could not be simpler: easily re-blooming perennials. a liquor crate, recycled wood. A simple gesture communicates to the street and offers a chance for interaction with pedestrians.

Readers, I know the orange flower is clivia. What is the smaller salmon colored flower? I have grown both in San Francisco.

Update: Thanks to Jason Dewees, the salmon colored flower has been identified as Freesia (Lapeirousia) laxa.

Shrine entrance invites tree lovers and prayers

自転車で日本語の学校に行く途中で、山手道路沿いにいつもこの階段を見ます。坂を登って、林と神社を訊ねたい。代々木八幡の神社に行ったことがありますか。

I bike to school on Yamate Dori, one of Tokyo’s modern ring roads. It’s currently under construction and rather ugly: a freeway underground, a 6 lane road on the surface, sidewalks torn up, new and mostly undistinguishable apartment buildings. On this ride from Nakano to Shibuya, one of the highlights is glimpsing the stairs leading up to this tree-filled shrine. I stopped and found out that it is Yoyogi-Hachiman shrine. I haven’t made it up the stairs yet, but it beckons as an inviting escape from the more functional, profane city racing by it.

Magical temple garden in Takanawa

Magical temple garden in Takanawa

Walking through Takanawa, I stumbled upon this magical temple entrance with a long winding path. Buddhist and Shinto temples are often the only dedicated land uses that escape the endless cycle of destruction and over-building that is so common in Tokyo. Few small temple gardens are this beautiful.

After passing these wooden guards, I saw only a stray cat. Not a single visitor or monk.

Magical temple garden in Takanawa

This is the path that invites one to find the temple.

Magical temple garden in Takanawa

Although a small total space, many angles make you feel that you have entered a splendidly edited jungle. I love the cloth apron on this statue.

Magical temple garden in Takanawa