landscape

An old danchi housing from the 1950s being replaced with “The Garden Residence”

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家の近くで、古い団地が新しいマンションに建て替えられています。Garden Residenceという英語の名前はありふれていると思います。

A large parcel in my neighborhood is being excavated for a new housing project, called “The Garden Residence.” Who doesn’t like gardens, but couldn’t they have come up with a more unique name? I am curious what landscape will be visible to the neighbors.

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Showa house features large tree on narrow lane

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狭い路地に、昭和時代の自宅や成熟した木は素敵です。中野で。

I love this Showa house, its gorgeous tree, and the juxtaposition with small parking lot and blue roofed 80s townhouse. There is a charm to these older houses and their mature landscapes.

Back to business in Tokyo after the new year

salarymen_tokyometro

お正月が終わったら、日常生活が戻ります。このメトロの写真に、男性はみんな黒いスーツを来ているので、庭のより東京人のほうがもっと型にはまっていると思います。

Uniformity and order can be even more stylized in Tokyo human environments than gardens. How is it that every passenger in this frame is a man in a black suit? Can that small screen transport us somewhere more magical and more vivid than our surroundings?

Winter palm and white camellia cover Tokyo residence

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生い茂ったサザンカと背の高いシュロのヤシが明るい冬の風景を作っています。高円寺で。

I love this winter scene of rampant white camellia and tall native palms, with plenty of dead fronds still attached to the crown. The wild landscape makes the house cozy and bright in the cold weather.

Pine trees and lawn create a silent landscape

皇居の前に、黒松がたくさんあって、芝生は広いです。空っぽな感じがします。こんなに完璧な芝生を見ると、使われている有害な農薬のことを考えてしまいます。活気のない印象があります。

On the East Side of the Imperial Palace, there are hundreds of black pine trees in a vast field of lawn. Although the surrounding streets are full of cars, there’s an eery silence and emptiness in the park. Maybe it’s also the perfect quality of the lawn that also strikes me as life-less and full of harmful chemicals.

Iconic New York City public spaces

ニューヨークのハイラインという新しい公園もセントラルパークも象徴的な公共空間です。自然と都市の関係がうまくできていて、気分がいいです。1934年から1980年まで使われていた電車の高架線路を公園にしたのが、ハイラインです。

On a recent trip to New York City, I took my film camera to some iconic parks. Above is the reservoir in Central Park, a place for exercise, leisure, and path between Upper East Side and Upper West Side.

Below is the High Line, a more recent park created from a dis-used elevated train line west of Chelsea. I love how in both environments, you can enjoy nature and feel connected to an urban landscape.

Palms are unexpected feature of Tokyo gardens

自然に生えているシュロというヤシが大好きです。東京の中で、ヤシはちょっと意外で、すてきだと思います。

I love the semi-wild shuro palm, and how it pops up unexpectedly in Tokyo gardens. This is at the “forest house” in Nakano, looking up towards the sky. Utility lines are also a common Tokyo landscape element.

Call for participation: public research on stratification, nature, and landscapes

I was delighted to hear from Italian collective Limno, which conducts public research on nature, who informed me about their upcoming issue on “the stratification of floristic, faunal, architectural, landscape elements of a particular place, their overlapping and interaction.”

The open call for “professionals and amateurs” will create material that will be juxtaposed to their study of a Venetian fort.

Please read more about this project and the call for participation. The deadline is April 15.

 

 

Winter pond reflects landscape and sky in Shinjuku Gyoen

寒い日でも、新宿御苑を歩くことは楽しいです。落葉した桜の枝も池に映った逆さまの景色も冬の風景です。

Even on the briskest cold days, it’s such a pleasure to cross Shinjuku Gyoen. The bare cherry tree in the foreground, reflections, and upside down landscape and sky are dazzling on a clear day.

Graduate school applicant seeks books about Japanese culture, nature, and landscape

アメリカの大学院に応募する方がこのブログの読者に質問したいそうです:日本の自然とランドスケープ文化の意味について、何かおすすめの学術本がありますか? 私も読者のアイデアを聞きたいです。Image credit: Luis Mendo. From TEDxSeeds プレゼンテーション.

Which books define a Japanese cultural outlook on nature and landscapes? A perspective PhD student wrote to me asking about scholarly works that would allow a comparison with England. Is there a Japanese counterpart to Raymond Williams and William Hoskins, author of The Making of the English Landscape?

I am equally curious to hear what Tokyo Green Space readers know about this topic. So please help this perspective graduate student and share your favorite in the blog comments. Thank you!

はじめまして。
My name is Jennifer Jane Riddle, and Mr. Braiterman has kindly allowed me to introduce myself and use his blog space in order to ask readers about any texts or articles by Japanese authors that address spaces and landscapes in Japan.  I am currently applying to various PhD programs in the United States, and my goal is to examine how cultural attitudes towards natural spaces are cultivated and understood and how cultural values affect the way in which countryside spaces are used. Comparatively, I am looking at the countryside of England and English authors,  such as Raymond Williams, who wrote about British culture in relation to nature and the English countryside. I am also using more anthropological centered works, as well, such as the landscape histories of William Hoskins. As for works on Japan, I have read Jinnai Hidenobu’s work on Tokyo, and I am looking for similar writers, anthropologists, or theorists who write about Japanese relationships to countryside spaces, nature, and the environment. If anyone who enjoys this blog is aware of any Japanese scholars, past or present, who focus on culture, space and place in such a way, I would love to know more.
どうぞよろしくお願いします。

Image credit: Luis Mendo. From TEDxSeeds presentation.

Abandoned housing project is nature island of fruit and foliage

神宮前の路地を歩いているときに、廃墟の団地を発見しました。おそらくここに高級マンションが建てられます。この風景が破壊されるまでは、自然の島のようです。柿や紅葉や野生生物がいます。

Walking in the back streets in Jingumae, I came across this fantastic abandoned housing project. Soon the lot will no doubt be scraped and redeveloped into luxury residences with minimal landscaping. Until then, it’s an island of nature, full of persimmons, fall foliage, and wildlife.

A freeway runs through Odaiba

お台場の駅から浜に行く途中で、この大きな高速道路を渡らなければなりません。空いた所有地のほうが開発されたものより多いです。だから、出入り口のふたつが放棄されて、そこに植物が育っています。浜からの景色は楽しいです。港やスカイラインやレインボーブリッジや小型の自由の女神が見えます。この組み合わせはちょっと奇妙です。

Exiting the subway station in Odaiba, the way to the famed “beach” with city view includes walking past vast parking lots and then over this eight lane freeway.

What’s amazing about this view is that in addition to the enormous freeway, there are abandoned ramps on both sides, that are gradually being reclaimed by plants. Is land so value-less that this waste is considered appropriate?

There are still more empty than developed parcels on Odaiba, an urban development project with mixed results. The focus on freeways, parking lots, and chain restaurants and stores often makes it feel like a generic exurban landscape.

I hear that it is a popular place for dates. But I’ve been there only three times in as many years. Most recently I was there to get a ride to Umi no Mori for a volunteer tree planting day (more on that later). But a few extra hours gave me my first taste of Odaiba itself.

Once across the freeway and past the mall, there are some beautiful public spaces including an artificial beach. There are views of the port, the Tokyo skyline with the Rainbow Bridge, and some odd built decor that includes a mini Statue of Liberty on land.

Sterile corporate landscape lights up briefly in fall

なぜ、企業のランドスケープはこんなに想像力がないのでしょうか。生活を表現していますけれど、ほとんど生命がありません。それでも、短い間、この並んでいるモミジはきれいになります。

In contrast to yesterday’s photo, here is a small row of maples, in full fall glory, lined up behind a corporate building on Road 246 in Aoyama. Corporate landscapes often look sterile and bare. This is all the more ironic since their purpose is to present the appearance of life.

This one seems all the more lacking because it borders the lush mix of garden and wildness surrounding the 1960s Aoyama danchi housing project. For a brief moment in fall, these trees are looking their best.

Espaliered persimmon in front of Aoyama school

「espalier」というフランス語の意味は木を垣根仕立てにすることです。東京ではちょっと珍しいですけど、混雑した都市の中で、この二次元にされた植物は適切です。最近、学校の前に背の高い垣根仕立てにした柿の木を見ました。

I am a big fan of espaliered trees. By pruning a tree into a 2D shape, it fits into the dense urban landscape. Here’s a mature, espaliered persimmon tree in front of a public school in Aoyama. I wonder if the kids will eat the fruit.

I am going to be posting this week different fall fruit trees I’ve seen over the past few weeks. What is your favorite urban fruit tree?

Why are there so few old trees in Tokyo?

どうして東京は木がないところが多いのでしょう?特に、都市キャノピーを作れる成熟した木がたくさんありません。新しい工事は、古いランドスケープを取り除いてしまいます。渋谷区は、どれだけ木があるかを確認して、住民に知らせて、木の価値について説明して、保護しようとしています。

Many parts of Tokyo seem perversely devoid of tree canopy. That’s why I was thrilled to see this very public sign on a chestnut tree (shiinoki or シイノキ) in Shibuya ward. The tree sits at the back of the Naganuma School for Japanese study, in an area where large office buildings and residences are still being constructed. In almost every urban construction site, the prior landscape is scraped.

I am not sure how much protection this sign offers the tree, but it’s good to know that the city is aware of the value of mature trees, and that passers-by will see the sign and wonder where the other trees went.