My super-extroverted tanuki co-conspirator, Chris Berthelsen, has relocated to New Zealand. It was touching that at our last public outing his special feature consisted of a 1964 Tokyo Olympic cloth featuring African-American athletes. Although not clear from this poor photo, the setting is Aoyama Danchi, one of tanuki’s favorite urban wild spaces.
Thanks, Chris, for all the creativity and boundary hopping. I was also super happy to hear that the original tanuki mask, made by Chris’ wife, is now in the possession of a Dutch teen in Tokyo.
I love these rogue sunflowers growing in the sidewalk of Shinjuku Dori, a busy commercial corridor. At night the flowers are brighter than all the artificial lights.
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.
Viewed from Asakusa, not only is Sky Tree bigger, but you can see more details of the lighting scheme. From Nakano, you hardly notice the blue light, and the more subtle red trim. I also like how the willow references Tokyo’s Edo past, and Sky Tree, although newly built, appears to be a 1960s’ vision of the future.
Tanuki offers visitors from the Netherlands warm gingko nuts and hot espresso on a cold night in Yoyogi.
I like this night view of the Salvia Maru (さるびあ丸) ship that goes from Tokyo to the distant islands administered by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, including Oshima off the Izu peninsula and Ogaswara, which is a 25 hour trip by boat with no airplane service. This boat looks kind of small for traveling in the Pacific Ocean, doesn’t it? At the Hamamatsucho pier.
By day, Tokyo’s waterfront is often underwhelming visually: a mix of port shipping, older buildings that routinely turned their backs to what used to be polluted water, and new luxury high rises. By night, the water sparkles, and the city is far more seductive.
I love how this flood gate on the Shibaura canal has a giant cartoon fish. When the gate is lowered, the painted fish descends to join the real fish in the canal. I wonder why his heading is facing up. Maybe he doesn’t want to leave the city’s bright lights just yet.
I love the dramatic clouds, and how Nakano Sakaue beams with light and activity. The building in the southwest corner of the main intersection has an awesome, transparent erector-set spine in the middle of two office columns.
Ome Kaido is one of west Tokyo’s oldest and longest streets. In its current incarnation, it is six auto lanes wide and the fastest route between Shinjuku and Ogikubo. Underneath is the Marunouchi Metro line.
Tokyo looks more magical at night. Walking across the Sumida River after seeing a sumo tournament, we admired the retro modern view of the bridges, elevated freeways, railway tracks, and inky black river. Even Sky Tree, the latest addition to this skyline, projects a futuristic image that is oddly familiar.
The green neon marks the Kanda river’s last bridge before joining the Sumida river. This river starts at Inokashira park in Kichijoji, west of where we live and winds for 26 kilometers before joining the Sumida and flowing into Tokyo Bay. A few years ago, I co-wrote an article about the Kanda river’s history and potential for new urbanism in Tokyo. You can download the 6 MB document in PDF form here.
At the bottom, you can see that there are still pleasure boats parked at the bottom of the Kanda for river dining and drinking. I’ve never been on these smaller boats.
Thanks to A Small Lab’s Chris for sharing this sighting of Tokyo Tanuki with us.
These lotus flowers look so perfect at night I had to check that they were real. It was charming to see them blowing in the warm summer wind in front of the main temple at Araiyakushi in Nakano. I was even more surprised to realize that this mini-field was growing in a dozen over-sized buckets. Below you can see the entrance to the temple from the street, with lanterns and gates.
The scaffolding has come down from the gorgeous red brick Tokyo Station after years of renovation. Still to come are the re-done entries and front plaza.