owner

Fragrant paperbush (mitsumata) in Omotesando back street

表参道 で、ミツマタという木をはじめて見ました。裸の枝に、香り高い花がたくさん咲いていました。木の持ち主が説明してくれました。五百年前に中国から輸入されて、ミツマタは、和紙を作るために使用されます。

I was admiring this fragrant tree with poofy balls of yellow and white flowers on bare branches. It’s in a shallow residential garden near Omotesando Koffee. Luckily, the owner came by as I was photographing, and explained that it’s called mitsumata, because of its three branch structure.

Later, I learned it’s called paperbush in English, and it’s known for producing high quality paper, once used for Japanese bank notes. The Kew Botanic Garden website says that it originates in China and has been cultivated in Japan and Korea since the 16th century. It’s also used in Chinese medicine.

In the photo below, you can see how the newer residential styles, with sleek concrete facades, close the house from the street, and very often include no plants at all. A sad contrast for garden lovers.

Owner’s bonsai decorates Omotesando Koffee rustic cafe

この素敵な盆栽はOmotesando Koffeeのオーナが作った作品です。コケが特に元気そうです。表参道に来た時はいつもこの美味しいコーヒーを飲んで、昭和モダンふうのインテリアと庭を楽しみながら、バリスタと話して行きます。

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.

Potted plant in bicycle basket

It’s awesome that someone has parked their bike illegally in Nakano’s Sun Mall after the shops have closed. Did the bicycle owner leave the potted plant in the basket, or did a stranger deposit it there? The city has a million stories, and this one combines two of my favorite city companions.

Bike removal

Shibuya bike removal

Tokyo has many restrictions on where you can park your bike, particularly near stations. They want to discourage bikes blocking the sidewalks while their owners commute on the trains. In crowded neighborhoods like Shibuya, many bikes are parked too long or abandoned. The police come around and collect them. Since all bikes must be registered, the police contact the owners and levy a fine.