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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Image credit: Luis Mendo. From TEDxSeeds presentation.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.