Peering through the entryway, a stone path leads to the temple. Everything is lush in rainy season.
Attending a guest lecture by permaculture designer Cecilia Macaulay gave me a great chance to see one campus of the famous Tamabi art school. This was taken in November so perhaps the lawn and trees no longer so lush.
Walking to meet a friend for lunch, I passed this beautiful, lush green wall in Aoyama. Is this the wall designed by Frenchman Patrick Blanc? There seem to be several types of stores here, plus a faux church wedding mill in the back.
This beautiful bonsai was decorating the very chic Omotesando Koffee shop. The cafe is a modern cube inside a Showa house with a cozy front garden. The very cheerful barista explained that the owner made this bonsai himself. I like how the bonsai looks next to the cappuccino and the aged wood of the house and cupboard. The moss is especially lush and lovely.
With any excuse, I like to cut across Shinjuku Gyoen. There are so many different plants and landscapes to see there. I like the contrast of these photos. Above late summer maple trees are lush green, and reflected in a pond. Only the wooden edge suggests that it is a garden and not a natural wonder. Below is the Japanese garden, with a path through the pond and gardeners hard at work styling nature into a very specific shape. I love seeing both woody and stylized versions so close to each other.
On my favorite Koenji shopping street called “Look,” a shop selling feminine French homewares just built a lush second floor garden. By attaching two long and deep planters, they have transformed this older building with new life. I love the variety of plants, and the way the garden adds onto what is already there.
The shop is called Malto and they are online, too.
In Yotsuya, the Marunouchi subway pops out of ground in central Tokyo. From the platform, there is this amazing view that includes a still functioning, although rarely used service road, an abandoned bus stop and plaza gradually returning to the wild, and a border of exuberant independent plants. There is something beautiful to glimpse this inefficient use of space and so much lush greenery in the midst of a dense city.
This incredibly narrow garden in Nishi Azabu Juban is overflowing with plants. I love it. Most people would think there’s no room for a garden, but someone was determined to live with greenery. Technically this narrow street does not even have a sidewalk, just a narrow space between road and home. I love the many layers, textures, and colors.
I was startled by this tiny garden door, not much taller than the bike’s handlebar. It’s amazing that in Harajuku there are still some old houses with their lush gardens. Most have been torn down and converted into multi-family buildings with minimal green space. While the wall prevents a full view, the small forest rising up and out of the property seems full of mystery and life.
Within minutes of taking this photo, a monsoon-like rainstorm chased everyone off the street unexpectedly. I was struck by this reflection of the Docomo Tower behind Shinjuku Goen in the semi-transparent windows of this office building.
The Docomo Tower is meant to look like a modern version of the Chrysler Building, but without windows or ornamentation it is stark. Something about the combination of the rows of fluorescent lights, office workers in starched white shirts, enclosed network communications, and the lush urban forest appeals to me.
I love how this small shop on Shinjuku Dori has two beautiful raphis palms outside the storefront. They provide a lush and tropical look and partly obscure the air conditioning unit. Tokyo has a surprising number of small shops throughout the city, and their owners seem more likely to take pride in their neighborhood and cultivate plants than big chain stores.
A friend guided me to an amazing green wall outside Feria, a nightclub in Roppongi, in a small alley across from Midtown. Climbing the entire front facade, this four story vertical garden is densely planted and lush. I was told that it’s about three years old.
Here’s an image of the context.
And lastly the view from the street.
Feria’s website shows how cool the vertical garden looks illuminated at night. I am intrigued that the vertical garden is the core element of the nightclub’s visual identity, in person and online.