My Japanese TV debut on Plants+ Club Live

Plants+ という番組に参加しました。初めてのテレビ出演! UStreamで見れます。ルークさん、せいこさん、しんごさん、Plant+のみなさん、ありがとうございます!

My first live Japanese television program, on Plants+ Club Live on Ustream. Thanks Luke, Seiko, Shingo & everyone!

Lucas from Knee High Media (makers of Paper Sky and Mammoth magazines and the Plants+ website) invited me to their monthly Plants+ Club Live which is Ustreamed. In Japanese broadcast tradition, I was one member of a large panel of eight, including hosts Ito Seiko and Yagyu Shingo.

I can’t seem to embed the video on this blog. You can see the 30 minute show online at

This is the 14th episode, and I was impressed by it being simultaneously DIY and very well organized. A quick stage was set up, two professional photographers set up camera, lighting, and computers. And there were at least ten more people “backstage.” Lucas introduced the youngest blogger on the Plants+ network, who is a 7 year old in Kobe.

I struggled a bit with the live and conversational quality of the show in Japanese, but I did my best to introduce Tokyo Green Space. The hosts were super-animated, and we shared on-air some persimmons from the publisher’s back yard in Shibuya.

Other guests included the founder of Green Sticks, which makes seed strips in the shape of match boxes, writer and photographer Ashikara Yoko, and talented mandolin player Inoue Taro.

Making bonsai at Sinajina with Kobayashi Kenji sensei

Recently I had the pleasure of attending my second bonsai-making class with Kobayashi Kenji sensei at Sinajina. While last fall’s class focused on black pine, this time we made a miniature landscape with three gangly deciduous shrubs (Nanking nanakama) and a small flowering astilbe (tannachidakesashi). At the base, we added moss and gravel.

I like how this small combination includes different heights and forms, flowers, and leaves that turn color and drop in the fall. It should be fun to take care of it in different seasons. In addition to TEDxSeeds organizers, the class also included three sisters from Tochigi who come to five classes every year. They clearly were more advanced than us beginners!

I highly encourage anyone to take a class at Sinajina. They are offered several times per month. For basically the cost of the plant (about US $70 or 6,500 yen), you not only leave with a bonsai you have made yourself, but you also learn from Kobayashi sensei about the plants, how to arrange them, and his passion about how people and plants can live together. For now, classes are in Japanese, but recently Kobayashi sensei hired a bilingual American and may soon offer classes in English.

Cherry tree + futon airing = spring

Urban nature has a beauty that is amplified by its proximity to quotidian activities. This late blooming, pom-pom cherry is in the final stage of blooming. Behind it is a 1970s apartment building with futons and bedding hung outside the window to air out. It finally feels like spring this week. It is this unlikely combination of temporality and permanence, beauty and function, people and plants, the sublime and the ordinary that make Tokyo such a lovely place to live.

Live video of falcon nest on downtown San Francisco office tower

Wow! San Francisco’s gas company (Pacific Gas & Electric) has set up a live webcam so you can the peregrine falcon nest on top of their downtown office tower. Four chicks were hatched on April 8 and 10.

What a cool way to support wildlife in the city and the popular interest that sustains urban habitats. The project is a partnership with UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research, and there’s a Yahoo discussion group.