mature

Tall palms define border of 1970s modernist-style mansion’s lawn

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外国産の背が高いヤシの木は大きい庭の境界線にとてもすてきです。

Few homes in Tokyo have lawns, let alone a row of tall exotic palms. If I’m not mistaken, these may be butia palms from South America. What a cool garden. Near Sangubashi.

King palm reflection on the neighbor’s wall

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サンフランシスコの庭に植えたとき、この「ユスラヤシ」というヤシの木は50センチしかありませんでした。13年経って、こんなに大きくなりました。初秋はサンフランシスコにまたいました。

It’s hard to believe I planted this cold-hardy King palm in 2000 when it was half a meter tall. Now it’s the tallest tree in my San Francisco back garden. Below its reflection is the 100 year old, redwood “butler’s pantry” we removed from the apartment during the renovation. When I was there this fall, I up-lit the trunk.

Showa house features large tree on narrow lane

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狭い路地に、昭和時代の自宅や成熟した木は素敵です。中野で。

I love this Showa house, its gorgeous tree, and the juxtaposition with small parking lot and blue roofed 80s townhouse. There is a charm to these older houses and their mature landscapes.

Forest path in Shinjuku connects department stores, Golden Gai, and male host zone

この森の路地は、新宿のデパートやゴルデン街やホスト街をつなげます。静かなので、きれいです。

I love this path that starts at Shinjuku Dori, near the department stores, cuts between Kabukicho and Golden Gai, and ends up at the start of the male host zone in eastern Shinjuku. I wish all my city walking could be done on this narrow green path with mature trees.

Sacred trees in courtyard of Meiji Jingu

この二つの大きい木を繋ぐ神道の飾りはとても素敵だと思います。明治神宮で。

I love this hemp rope and lightening-bolt like paper decoration that makes visible the sacredness of the mature trees in the center of Meiji Jingu shrine. Approaching the shrine through a magnificent planned forest, visitors sense that this place has been set apart from a city that is in state of constant change.

Pomegranate fruit getting ripe in small Aoyama shrine


青山の小さな神社に、ザクロ果実がだんだん熟してきています。

This tiny shrine in crowded Aoyama, next to the Comme des Garcons flagship store, is full of trees, including a mature pomegranate tree. I must remember to come back and try one of these fruits.

Another abandoned lot teeming with life in Nakano

東京に、使われていないところはすぐにコインパーキングになります。この中野の空き地は、成長した木やアートや雑草でにぎやかです。

Most unused land in Tokyo quickly becomes automated coin parking for automobiles. I like this empty lot with a mature tree, art work, and amazing collection of weeds.

Long allée of cherry trees in Tatsumi are especially beautiful at night

辰巳の桜の散歩道は、夜が特別にすてきです。高速道路を作ったときに、公園の木を植えたのだと思います。今この林は40年以上に見えます。

This long allée of cherry trees in Tatsumi, perhaps a kilometer-long straight path, is magnificent, especially at night. I suppose they planted the cherry trees at the same time the elevated freeways were constructed. All the trees in the park are reaching maturity now, probably 40 years later.

Mature cherry trees cross Nakameguro river. Nearly full bloom.

花見に中目黒の川はとてもきれいです。ほとんど満開でした。2012年4月6日。

Nakameguro river is one of the best spots for viewing hanami. Last Friday was approximately 80%. Much family, student, friends, and co-worker public drinking and nature appreciation!

Today it’s windy and raining, so perhaps the season is already over as the petals fall fast.

Four mature trees growing in 25 centimeters of earth outside Nishi Azabu home

二十五センチぐらいのスペースに、高くてかっこいい庭になりました。大好きです。

I love how this Nishi Azabu corner house has maybe 25 centimeters of space and a three-story tall garden of mature trees and bushes. The deciduous trees provide summer shade, and in winter the bare branches have a different appeal.

Tokyo Tower is a rare landmark

東京タワーは東京の数少ないランドマークの一つです。ニューヨークやパリと全然違います。東京には終わりもなければ、中心もありません。川からの有名な景色もなくて、他の都市にあるように超高層ビルが並ぶ景色もありません。東京タワーは昭和のレトロモダンです。

Few buildings in Tokyo are as iconic as Tokyo Tower. In a mega-city that sprawls as far as Japan’s second largest city, Yokohama, Tokyo lacks a single center, a recognizable river, or a conventional view of its skyscrapers, unlike NYC’s Hudson River or Central Park views.

I like how the top photo’s framing of Tokyo Tower mixes auto traffic with mature trees and a shrine entrance gate in a nostalgic ode to the 1950s. The lower photo shows its reflection at night in an office mid-rise.

Why are there so few old trees in Tokyo?

どうして東京は木がないところが多いのでしょう?特に、都市キャノピーを作れる成熟した木がたくさんありません。新しい工事は、古いランドスケープを取り除いてしまいます。渋谷区は、どれだけ木があるかを確認して、住民に知らせて、木の価値について説明して、保護しようとしています。

Many parts of Tokyo seem perversely devoid of tree canopy. That’s why I was thrilled to see this very public sign on a chestnut tree (shiinoki or シイノキ) in Shibuya ward. The tree sits at the back of the Naganuma School for Japanese study, in an area where large office buildings and residences are still being constructed. In almost every urban construction site, the prior landscape is scraped.

I am not sure how much protection this sign offers the tree, but it’s good to know that the city is aware of the value of mature trees, and that passers-by will see the sign and wonder where the other trees went.

Yellow fall foliage on street tree and at park

Fall foliage in Tokyo is spectacular. I took these two images on a Sunday walk: the one above in Shinjuku Gyoen, the one below on the boulevard near Sendagaya JR station. I wish Tokyo had more mature trees.

Dense and mature sidewalk garden in Chiyoda

Walking at night in Chiyoda after a meeting at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, Chris and I found an amazingly dense and mature sidewalk garden that seems to be tended by a sushi restaurant. The planting is amazingly thick, creating a green wall between the sidewalk and the large boulevard in front of the restaurant. I like how the owners felt they could own this space and sacrifice some pedestrian space to make the small area around them so much nicer.

There’s a variety of trees and bushes and small plants in recycled pots and layered on cinder blocks (called “breeze blocks” by the New Zealanders) and other found stuff including beer crates, wood, bricks, and blocks. There’s even two plastic pots hanging from a ginko street tree that are currently empty. Makes me want to contribute something!

Building around existing trees

After watching my neighbor’s home and then garden get scarped to dirt last week, it’s great to see a cafe like this one at Waseda’s Okubo campus where the new building adapts itself to the existing mature trees. With very limited space, much longer than deep, the campus was able to add a narrow cafe that is mostly counter space with views of the sidewalk and street. I like how modern and adaptive this architecture is.