I just saw a small plate of 5 loquats for 700 yen at the store. On the south side of Nakano’s JR station, next to the Royal Host on Nakano Dori, there’s an enormous loquat tree full of fruit. It’s right above the pedestrian path, and seems to be free for the eating.
Everywhere I walk in Tokyo, I see loquat trees (called biwa in Japanese 枇杷) on the sidewalks: planted between the sidewalk and roadway, next to a Royal Host, coming out of a shrine. Loquat seems well adapted to Tokyo, and it’s great to see such huge trees full of orange fruit and accessible from the street. I have to keep my eye out to see if the neighbors eat them.
On the way to the JR station, I passed a neighbor who was descending from her second story apartment and greeted her. Seemingly about 80 years old, she was carrying the bowl from her rice cooker. She showed surprised that this “foreigner” could speak (some) Japanese, and then proceeded to empty the water that had rinsed the rice onto her potted rose.
She was very proud of this blue-purple rose, which she told me her mother had given her. She also pointed out the potted loquat tree which would soon fruit and also an old grape vine tied up against the building. I admired her frugality in re-using water, her energy in traveling up and down the stairs, and her friendliness to this foreign neighbor.
This story highlights how gardening is enmeshed with frugality, anticipation and memory. Frugality includes the water-reuse and also on-going maintenance of the plants over many years. Anticipation for what is emergent and what will soon be. And memory sparked by plants about who gifted them and what life was like back when they were planted.