This sunflower is blooming in a tiny mound of dirt outside a neighbor’s house. I love how she maintains this corner and always offers some seasonal color to the passers-by.
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.
A miniature fantasy landscape freely shared on a Tokyo curbside.
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.
Wonderful article about Kirstin Tobiasson creating a sidewalk garden by digging up the concrete and growing through trial and error. I like how she calls this spot “my country house” and enjoys the interactions with passer-bys.
This small house on a typical Nakano side street is over-flowing with plant life. The owner is clearly maximizing space with hundreds of potted plants on the top, the inside and the outside of the cinderblock wall. Using every centimeter of space, the effect is dazzling from all angles. And somehow, there is still room for a cat to take a nap on the wall.
Below is a view of the front entrance. It is a floral jungle that shelters the home and delights passers-by.
Even the steps on the side of the building, leading to an upstairs apartment, have been intensively planted.