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View towards Koenji from hallway makes me wonder where are the trees?

nakano_cityscape_hallway
高円寺の方角の景色はきれいだけど、木が見えませんね。

The opposite side of the apartment from our balcony is a hallway with an enormous view of inner west Tokyo, including the Chuo and Sobu line trains. There’s a serious shortage of trees and open space.

Tanuki heats up ginkgo nuts and serves hot coffee next to the Yamanote line

tanuki_nite_train2_yoyogi_f
ホランダから来たビジターに、タヌキさんはエスプレッソコーヒーとホットギンナンでもてなしています。

Tanuki offers visitors from the Netherlands warm gingko nuts and hot espresso on a cold night in Yoyogi.

A long line waits at shrine to give an offering at festival

神社の献金を上げるのために、待っている人が多いです。大宮八幡というきれいな神社に、夫は子供のときに、よく行きました。杉並区の善福寺川の隣です

Omiya Hachiman shrine is near where my husband grew up in Suginami ward. It’s also next to a beautiful green corridor that follows the Zenpukuji river.  I love the elegant building, and all the decorations including the purple cloth with Edo crests, the red and white stripes, the rope and lightning bolts, and the big lanterns.

Lone line of wild grass on sidewalk near Shinjuku station

この草は自然にまかれた種から育ちました。長い線の形を描いています。去年もこの新宿駅の近くにある景色が好きでした。

This grass seeds itself alongside the guardrail leading up to Shinjuku Station’s JR South entrance. Exactly the same time last year, I was also captivated by this linear lawn at night.

English artist Simon Parish sent me his lovely drawings of Tokyo potted plant gardens

サイモン・パリッシュというイギリスのアーチストから、東京の植木鉢の庭の絵をいただきました。二十年前に東京に住んでいたそうですが、今でも東京の感じをよく覚えているんですね。

I was pleasantly surprised to hear from English artist Simon Parish, who shared with me (and my readers) his drawings of Tokyo potted plant gardens. I love his compositions, the contrast between the line drawings and the (hand-colored?) plants and pots, the mix of cultivated and semi-wild urban vegetation.

Simon explained that he lived in Tokyo about 20 years ago. I am super impressed with his current art work, and feels it evokes the types of Tokyo city gardens that this blog celebrates. Maybe, garden-wise, Tokyo does not change so much over the decades or even centuries.

Bikes lined up outside JR station, a river of wheels in concrete canyon

駅の壁に自転車がたくさん並んでいます。実用的だけど、すばらしいです。暑い日だったので、サラリーマンは半袖を着ています。

There’s something utilitarian and magnificent about this row of hundreds of commuter bikes lined up outside JR Tokyo’s Ryogoku station on a hot summer afternoon. The sun bakes in this concrete canyon, and even the salary men are wearing short sleeves.

Marui’s new Nakano store offers generous sidewalk

新しい中野のマルイ(0101)は歩道をきれいします。公共の造園がマルイの新しいブランド・アイデンティティになります。

Marui’s new Nakano store offers a generous sidewalk, blurring public and commercial spaces. I love how Marui is making public landscaping its brand identity.

I am super pleased that the new Marui department store in Nakano is building a great entrance. Rather than build up to the edge of the property, Marui has a two-story atrium by setting back its entrance, with four mature trees and hopefully some planter beds. By blurring the line between public and commercial space, Marui will create an engaging sidewalk with plants.

For a short stretch of this narrow sidewalk on the south side of the JR station, there will be plants on both sides.

This store design seems related to the new Shinjuku store landscape, which I blogged last year. That store also has two very popular ground floor food shops (an Italian gelato and French bakery) that are very open to the sidewalk and attractive, new green spaces.

I like to see how smart retailers realize that improving the sidewalk and pedestrian experience will increase business and goodwill. There is no contradiction between generosity and profits. I hope that this public green space becomes a recognizable part of Marui’s brand identity. I’ll definitely check out Marui Nakano when it opens soon.

Flowering vine against power lines

This exuberant, orange flowered vine seems to launch itself off the side of a small two story residence. I love the contrast of the vine with the equally excessive, overhead power lines. The vine is part of the amazing multi-family residential building that is entirely covered in plants, which I included as part of a vertical garden comparison.

JR Stations, Blue Lights and Suicide prevention

JR Yamanote line

There was an interesting article about how East Japan Railways has installed special blue LED lights in all 29 stations of the central Yamanote loop line as a measure to reduce suicide. And Keihin Electric Express Railway Company, operating in Tokyo and Yokohama, has installed blue lights in two stations.

Six percent of all Japanese suicides, more than 2,000 per year, take place in stations by people jumping in front of trains.

There is no scientific evidence that these lights will help, although some experts are quoted as saying that blue lights have a calming effect. The cost was US$165,000.

I wonder why Japan Railways did not consider installing plants on their platforms. Plants on elevated lines would receive some natural light, and native plants would contribute to the urban ecosystem.

It would be great to see such a planted platform on even one Yamanote station, and investigate whether a live platform contributes to any decrease in what is euphemistically called “human accidents.” It seems strange that technology solutions receive quicker funding than simpler natural solutions that would have a multiplier effect in terms of benefiting all passengers and the environment.

Bonsai collection on residence wall

Bonsai collection on residence wall

While many residences and business have common and inexpensive plants in public space or along the line dividing public and private, it is also amazing to see valuable plant collections on display outside homes and businesses. As an American, I am simply amazed that these labors of love and time are not destroyed or stolen. 

Here’s two views of a residential home’s bonzai collection. I am taken by the gardener’s generosity and the public’s respect. 

Bonsai collection on residence wall