plastic buckets

Lotus flowers growing in buckets at Araiyakushi temple in Nakano


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.

Growing rice on small street in plastic buckets

Rice growing in small bowls

One of my neighbors cultivates her entrance and the side of the street along her building. Recently she showed me that she is growing rice in three small plastic buckets. I am impressed with this small bit of urban farming, so evocative of Japan’s agriculture and scaled for the city.

Her small garden spans public and private space, and is constantly changing by season; last month was hydrangea and peony, now rice and roses. She is constantly present on the street taking care of her plants and chatting with passer-bys. Her presence is reminiscent of the urban life created by Baltimore “stoops,” marble block steps, yet without the steps.