persimmon

My smallest fruit tree

persimmon_bonsai_balcony

東京の小さなベランダで、色々なフルーツの木を育てています。イチジクやバナナやオリーブがあります。一番ちっちゃなのは盆栽の柿の木です。去年もこの盆栽の柿の写真を載せました

On my Tokyo balcony, I am growing fig, olive, banana, and this persimmon bonsai. It’s my smallest. I took photos of it last year at the same time.

Vase made from persimmon juice

kakishibu_vase_keitou_nakano
このきれいな花瓶は日本の両親の四国からのお土産です。柿渋という方法で作られました。

This vase is made with kakishibu, a dye made from persimmons. The vase was a gift from my in-laws, who brought it back from a trip to Shikoku. The bright red of the keitou flower (celosia argentea, or plumed cockscomb) seems to overwhelm the film.

Persimmon bonsai in two stages: new leaf, and early summer

leafingout_persimmon_bonsai_Nakano_balcony
この柿の盆栽の世話をするのは簡単です。今年は円形に枝を曲げました。

This persimmon bonsai has been very easy to care for, and this year I’ve pulled two branches down to the base of the trunk, creating a circular shape. Above is how it looks now at the verge of summer. Below, new leaves pushing out in March.

new_leaves_persimmon_bonsai_Nakano_balcony

Fruit tree and old home covered in thick snow

showa_home_snow_fruittree_window

柿の木と昭和時代風の窓は、大雪の下で魔法にかけられたように見えます。

The Showa-era home and its old persimmon tree I always pass on the pedestrian path look magical under thick snow.

Showa window visible through the fruit trees

showa_house_trees_from_path_nakano

歩行者路で、昭和時代風の窓が柿と梨の木の後ろに見えます。中野で。

I pass this house frequently on the way to the station. The metal fence is truly ugly, but somehow from this angle, there is a beauty and mystery to this old home. They’re growing persimmons and pears.

Unharvested persimmons and big moon over Nakano

persimmon_moon_nakano

日没に、収穫されなかった柿と大きな月が、同じ木みたいです。

These persimmon fruits are well past ripe, and just clinging to the branches. At dusk, the moon seems to be the same size as the fruit.

Still dormant persimmon bonsai on Tokyo balcony. Enjoying plants involves waiting.

今まで、この柿の盆栽は休眠中です。八年待たないと柿は実らないそうです。本当でしょうか。

My balcony garden is starting to perk up for spring, but this persimmon bonsai is still dormant. I remember the day I brought it back two years ago. My neighbor asked me what I have, and then gave me a sad look. “You know it takes eight years for persimmons to fruit, don’t you?” she asked me. I am more patient than I look.

Abandoned housing project is nature island of fruit and foliage

神宮前の路地を歩いているときに、廃墟の団地を発見しました。おそらくここに高級マンションが建てられます。この風景が破壊されるまでは、自然の島のようです。柿や紅葉や野生生物がいます。

Walking in the back streets in Jingumae, I came across this fantastic abandoned housing project. Soon the lot will no doubt be scraped and redeveloped into luxury residences with minimal landscaping. Until then, it’s an island of nature, full of persimmons, fall foliage, and wildlife.

Giant electric pole dwarfs persimmon & street

東京の中には、たくさんのあまりきれいでないものがあります。とても高い電線は江戸時代の五日市街道の上を渡ります。ごみ焼却炉の煙突や高架道路やマンションの終わらない蛍光灯の列も都市生活に奇妙なリズムをつくります。このとても高い電線の下に柿の実が見えます。

There are many urban sights in Tokyo that are jarring to newcomers, perhaps none more so than the giant electricity poles. Well, there’s also garbage incinerators with tall chimneys in every neighborhood, elevated freeways, endless rows of fluorescent lights stacked high on exposed residential hallways, and the zeal for paving over almost all surfaces.

This photo was taken near Shin Koenji where the elevated main power line crosses Itsukaichi Kaido, a road that dates back to Edo and maybe earlier. You can just make out a silhouetted ripe persimmon fruit. Sometimes these unattractive elements create their own rhythm and patterns in urban life.

More persimmons, in Shiho studio’s backyard

この柿の木は史火陶芸教室の裏庭で育っています。二年に一回、果物がたくさん出来ますが、多くない年もたくさんとれます。毎年、義理の母が生徒さんや友だちに果物と果物で作った料理をあげます。秋は柿です。夏はユスラ梅です。東京は、果物の木が多いことを知っている外国人が少ないです。

Many foreigners are surprised just how full of persimmons Tokyo is in the fall. Maybe you’d miss them if you stick to inside the newest malls and corporate developments. But it must be one of the most popular residential trees, and a true marker of fall.

This one is behind Shiho ceramic studio, and the funny story is that my in law teachers say that this year there aren’t so many fruit. Despite being an off year in a two year cycle, there’s actually still quite a lot of fruit. My mother in law is a great cook, and she uses these fall persimmons and also small sour plums in summer for food she shares with students and friends. She didn’t plant these trees but has gotten a lot of use from them in the past ten years.

Some persimmon trees produce fruit that’s best eaten raw, others dried, or cooked into jam or other sweets. For me it’s an acquired taste, but seeing these orange globes dangling across Tokyo is undeniably beautiful.

Espaliered persimmon in front of Aoyama school

「espalier」というフランス語の意味は木を垣根仕立てにすることです。東京ではちょっと珍しいですけど、混雑した都市の中で、この二次元にされた植物は適切です。最近、学校の前に背の高い垣根仕立てにした柿の木を見ました。

I am a big fan of espaliered trees. By pruning a tree into a 2D shape, it fits into the dense urban landscape. Here’s a mature, espaliered persimmon tree in front of a public school in Aoyama. I wonder if the kids will eat the fruit.

I am going to be posting this week different fall fruit trees I’ve seen over the past few weeks. What is your favorite urban fruit tree?

Unexpected December fruit next to major street

I am surprised to see Tokyo fruit in December: cherries (crab apples) and baby persimmons on a major boulevard.

もう12月なのに東京でなっていたフルーツにびっくり。大きい通りにサクランボとベイビー柿がなっていました。

I did not expect to see cherries crab apples and mini-persimmons in Tokyo during December, and particularly not on the major boulevard near my home. In the small strip of land between the sidewalk and the road, someone has created a flower pot garden that includes these winter fruits. I wonder if the gardener is a shop owner, shop employee, or apartment building resident. Thanks to Twitter’s @hizaga for first spotting them, and @JasonDewees for identifying them.

No space for fruit tree? Check this out!

So many city dwellers think they have no space to grow anything. Recently I posted photos of a persimmon tree near my apartment that is three stories tall and full of fruit. I went back to take a shot of its trunk. Actually, it turns out that there are two trees growing in a space no bigger than the depth of an air conditioning unit. This small space provides sufficient soil to produce hundreds of fruit each year. There’s even room for ten potted plants spilling onto the street, a broom, and some ladders. The ability to create massive greenery and even food in such limited space always amazes me.

Update: A reader asked me to provide more context images for these persimmons growing in such a small spot. You can see below that they are growing in a tiny lane the width of one car, and that they reach out from their narrow bases to provide a tall canopy between the buildings. And there’s a third tree of the same size extending through the neighbor’s front cinderblock wall.

Fall fruit growing in Tokyo’s back streets

Tokyo’s large boulevards often have grand ginko and zelkova trees. On the back streets, Tokyo gardeners grow all sorts of ornamental and fruit trees. Recently, I have noticed oranges, persimmons, and even pomegranate growing in my neighbors’ tiny gardens and balconies.

It would be great to see even more fruit growing in Tokyo and the world’s largest cities.

Ceramic studio spring garden

I take care of my relatives ceramic studio garden. Last year’s 5bai midori “satoyama unit,” installed during a fall typhoon, is coming back with lots of new growth. This photo shows off the yellow flowers “yamabuki”, a vigorous Japanese shrub. Sometimes you see white flowers, or multi-petalled yellow ones.

Shiho ceramic studio‘s back yard is a small l-shape raised beds. Much of it is shaded by persimmon and plum trees and the neighbors’ homes. The garden includes a volunteer shurro palm tree (しゅろ, 棕櫚) and a Japanese herb called sanshou (サンショウ) that traveled from the neighboring store’s bicycle parking lot.

A lot of what I planted at the end of last year has come back, including hydrangea, lilies of the valley, hostas, rosemary, jasmine, and a lantern flower vine that almost fully covers the chain link fence. And the giant cymbidium orchid has been blooming through April. It’s great to hear that the ceramic teachers and students are enjoying the garden.

I think the eight bags of compost helped a lot in improving the soil and make this shade garden thrive.

One plant that didn’t survive the Tokyo winter is a plant commonly called “purple princess” in San Francisco. To fill the gap left by the plant and my hope for it growing large fast and covering the cinder block wall. I brought over a kanamemochi shrub: a quick growing and very popular Tokyo shrub with distinctive red, new spring leaves. I also planted a yuzu lemon tree and a white single petal yamabuki.