Recently, there have been several reports that Mount Fuji may erupt and cause an earthquake, or vice versa. What I love about this giant volcano is its utterly domestic and urban nature. Today’s urban views, completely with laundry drying, are an extension of hundreds of years of Edo visual representation.
This narrow ledge is just big enough to dry clothes and have an assortment of potted plants and a summer green curtain. Another great example of multi-function outdoor spaces that are incredibly small.
I mentioned earlier the cool new art space called 3331 Arts Chiyoda that has been created in a closed junior high school. One of the fun installations was this classroom with a tree growing in a washing machine, and a video projection showing this unlikely pair being pushed around the neighborhood. Somehow combining these basic city elements and moving them through unexpected environments is comical and surreal.
I love this tiny lane in Nakano Fujimichou that extends two blocks between a larger building and a series of small residences. The proportion of pavement seems just right: soil, pavement, soil in almost equal thirds. The lane serves as access to residences, bicycle storage, laundry drying, garden, and public passageway.
I wonder if the land is officially part of the ward or the residences. In any case, I imagine that it is the residents who maintain it and set informal rules about usage. The charm of this type of small semi-public semi-private space seems impossible to create by government planners or real estate developers.
With the recent warm weather, these giant pink peonies went quickly from bud to giant pink balls. On one of the lanes I take from my apartment to the JR, I pass this humble apartment whose front garden spills in pots from the tiny patio onto the small street.
I often see an older woman and sometimes her daughter working in the garden they have created from recycled styrofoam containers and assorted plastic pots. Cymbidium orchids, tulips, geraniums, peonies, and soon roses create a wonderful distraction for passers-by. The owner is at once extremely humble and pleased to get some attention.
To get a sense of the background of the flowers, here’s a photo from further away. You can see the patio flowers share space with the laundry machine and a simple structure for hanging the clothes to dry. The flowers provide a small buffer between street and front door, and soften the hard edges of concrete, asphalt and tile.