odd

“Masters Garden” phrase makes odd sales pitch

不動産の広告で、「Masters Garden」という英語が使われていました。イメージはオフィスみたいだけれど、贅沢なマンションです。英語で「master」は奴隷所有者かs/mの感じです。この和製英語は変です。

In this real estate ad, the building looks more like a corporate office than a place anyone wants to live. But the phrase “Masters Garden” in English seems particularly inappropriate, as if they are advertising to former slaves the opportunity to move into the Big House. Or maybe it’s meant to appeal to the S/M buyers of luxury apartments.

Lupinus re-made into showy annual. It’s only barely recognizable from American species.

この冬は長くて寒いですね。最近、自転車でホーム・センターに行って、花をたくさん買いました。ルピナスと言う花はキャンディーのような色です。北米の起原だけど、日本のは全然違います。ベランダに置きました。素敵です。

This winter seems to never end. So I biked over to the local home center recently, and loaded up on bright flowers including daffodils, tulips, stock, and this amazing lupinus. I am familiar with it as a very handsome deep blue flowering perennial, native to North America, that becomes a bush. I’d never seen it in candy colors and bred for maximum floral display. It’s at once familiar, odd, and just the right antidote for more cold days.

A freeway runs through Odaiba

お台場の駅から浜に行く途中で、この大きな高速道路を渡らなければなりません。空いた所有地のほうが開発されたものより多いです。だから、出入り口のふたつが放棄されて、そこに植物が育っています。浜からの景色は楽しいです。港やスカイラインやレインボーブリッジや小型の自由の女神が見えます。この組み合わせはちょっと奇妙です。

Exiting the subway station in Odaiba, the way to the famed “beach” with city view includes walking past vast parking lots and then over this eight lane freeway.

What’s amazing about this view is that in addition to the enormous freeway, there are abandoned ramps on both sides, that are gradually being reclaimed by plants. Is land so value-less that this waste is considered appropriate?

There are still more empty than developed parcels on Odaiba, an urban development project with mixed results. The focus on freeways, parking lots, and chain restaurants and stores often makes it feel like a generic exurban landscape.

I hear that it is a popular place for dates. But I’ve been there only three times in as many years. Most recently I was there to get a ride to Umi no Mori for a volunteer tree planting day (more on that later). But a few extra hours gave me my first taste of Odaiba itself.

Once across the freeway and past the mall, there are some beautiful public spaces including an artificial beach. There are views of the port, the Tokyo skyline with the Rainbow Bridge, and some odd built decor that includes a mini Statue of Liberty on land.

More neighborhood cherry blossoms

うちの近所には、学校や駅や小さな路地に桜があります。子供たちも気がついています。東京ではシュロという椰子の木と一緒に桜が見れます。

Maybe you don’t associate cherry trees and palm trees. They are an odd pair, with this type of palm tree being a self-sower in Tokyo, and the cherries being selected from nurseries and carefully tended for decades.

By now, the cherry blossoms are ending. The petals pool up in a pink carpet, and new leafs shoot out from the dark branches. Once there’s more green than pink, this cherry mini-season is officially over.

Here are some photos of cherry blossoms seen walking and taking the train in my neighborhood. A dusty elementary school soccer field is bordered by shuro palm trees and cherry trees in full bloom. Waiting for the JR train, the platforms face into a canopy of mature trees. On a small street, fallen blossoms attract a child’s attention.

Fantasy landscape with fountain, palm, and odd characters

A miniature fantasy landscape freely shared on a Tokyo curbside.

ミニチュアのファンタジー風景が舗道 の縁石を占領している。

This tiny curbside garden is a fantasy landscape in miniature in what was probably dead space previously between the house and the road. There’s moving water, a palm tree, plants, and several odd characters. I found it just across the road from the giant tree on that former country lane that is now barely visible in Suginami, not far from Opera City.

The contents are fun in their whimsical incongruity. Even in this tiny space, there are several overlapping vignettes. A tiny palm tree joined by a sliver bunny and a character that appears to be a cross between European Romanticism and anime; several Sago palms (Cycas revoluta) beneath some mid-height bushes; and the fountain with water plants and a character trio with a helmeted princess, a red Cobra super-hero whose left arm is a semi-automatic weapon, and an over-sized yellow dog. The fountain features plants, a tiny cliff-side, and bathtub ducks.

The garden structure is very DIY: low-cost, anonymously designed, and highly imaginative. I love that the gardener is sharing this creation with the neighbors and passers-by. The garden’s minimal foundation is constructed mostly of  low-lying brick with some wood fencing. I particularly like the tag that shows the flowers that will bloom later.

Thanks again to @ArchitourTokyo for the great bike tour where we discovered this sculpture garden.