This is one of the tallest hydrangeas I have ever seen. It’s growing outside this once handsome house near where we live. Tokyo’s ample year-round rain make it easy for plants to survive without our help. I’m hoping they won’t tear down the place soon, because this wild garden only requires being left alone.
For four years, this Okinawa morning glory returns each year. While the annual Edo morning glories are just starting to climb, the Okinawa morning glory is already blooming and extending its reach to all corners of the narrow balcony.
Sometimes, I think nothing surprises me any more in Tokyo. And then I see this lovely woman walking down Koenji’s Look shopping street with her pet turtle. The turtle looks like he is swimming in air, legs reaching forward and back and eyes taking in the surroundings.
The human guardian explains that she is carrying this towel under her umbrella to wipe off the turtle. Apparently, her turtle does not like to get wet! Thanks to both of them for adding some cheer to a rainy day.
Crowds shouted “no to restarting” the nuclear reactors. First of 50 remaining plants fired up yesterday in Oi, also the scene of large protests.
It was raining when @ilynam and Yuki joined me for the first meeting to create a website for the 500 garden database of Japanese gardens outside Japan, a project I am helping Suzuki sensei with this year.
At the entrance to the school, somehow this rainy scene was an apt start for this exciting project where we will mix design, gardens, pixels, and soil. Bringing this knowledge online will be very helpful for people around the world who are interested in knowing about and visiting hundreds of Japanese gardens in dozens of countries. And working with design stars Ian and Yuki, I am confident that we can combine simplicity and beauty in the interface.
The banner offering campus tours for new students says, “We are people who scoop. Environmentally active students.” The word sukuu means “scoop” and also “save.”
Azaleas bring back memories of the East Coast in the US, particularly the mid-Atlantic region where I grew up.
Near the gallery where the Shiho ceramic show is held each year, there’s a small real estate office with an amazing collection of at least 50 cactuses. This year, I noticed that when it rains the realtor brings most of them inside, and covers a few outside with plastic.
The office definitely has more cactuses than customers. I am delighted by this plant lover’s dedication. When it’s cold, he brings many in for the night. Given how heavy and thorny the plants are, he’s obviously very dedicated to his passion.
I am so impressed with the utter simplicity of this residential garden. Using practically no space, this vertical garden consists mostly of one well trimmed magnolia tree and a vine that screen the home. I don’t know whether credit should go to the rain-soaked climate or a smart home-owner. This house shows what’s possible in terms of ample plant growth in the most minimal of urban spaces. With more of these gardens, Tokyo would see lower summer temperatures, more wildlife, and a great quality of urban life.
At the beginning of the rainy season, flowers bloom between raindrops and an abandoned wood house.
Between my apartment and the main road, there’s an abandoned wood house. I wrote about how the supermarket loading area guard trimmed this tree which once originated in a pot. I think it’s a pittosporum.
This is the view from my apartment building lobby on a rainy spring day. Because of energy conservation, many lights are turned off. This increases the contrast between indoors and outdoors.
I walk through this lobby every day, and rarely think about it or consider taking a photo. Recently, I participated in the Xerox and City photo workshop at Vacant, led by Hirano Taro and organzized by Too Much magazine as part of their Romantic Geographies series. We were asked to take photos of our breakfast and then our trip to the workshop in Harajuku. It made me think more about spaces that become automatic or ignored.
Tokyo residents are more aware of energy use and lighting now. Many parts of the city are less brighly lit: from billboards to train stations to residences. By lowering our lighting, we are more attuned to natural cycles, and more sensitive to the boundaries between private and public, indoor and outdoor, personal and shared resources.
This azalea is blooming in two colors on a wet spring day. Azaleas remind me of the mid-Atlantic in the United States, as they are commonly planted with Japanese maples, rhododendron, and flowering cherry trees. The rhaphis palm that serves as a companion plant is better suited to Tokyo than the frost-prone mid-Atlantic. In Tokyo, azaleas are often planted in low hedges alongside boulevards, as well as in traditional and small residential gardens.
This weekend we’ve had two typhoons in Tokyo. My friend laughed about this, but it’s really handy to have rain pants if you plan to bike or even walk when the wind is high. A few days ago, we were in the mountains outside of Tokyo and saw our first fall maple leaves turning yellow and red.
I am looking forward to the television weather reports that will soon be tracking the progress of fall foliage from north eastern Japan down to south western Japan. I love the media fixation on fall foliage and spring cherry blossoms, marking the season and reminding the viewer of Japan’s geography. Altitude makes a big difference, too.
Growing in a crack between two walls, I spotted this gorgeous red flower. Tokyo’s ample rainfall allows plants to thrive in the most unlikely places. I love how the flowers provide a concentrated does of fall color. I looked in various plant books but couldn’t find the name. Does anyone know its name in English or Japanese.
Here are some context shots. I love how it fills this dead space, and how the vibrancy of the plant contrasts with the rusting and peeling rail.
Flowers are naturally transitory. This independent plant’s life was even shorter. I took the photos on October 6. Last night, I realized that the plant had been either uprooted or poisoned. It is gone without a trace.
Today’s mild typhoon is a welcome relief after more than six weeks of record-breaking heat and absolutely no rain in central Tokyo. I was getting worried about the street trees and all the “independent” plant life that survives in Tokyo without human care.
For some reason, the bitter melon I planted by seed in April only recently started climbing like crazy. Here’s an image of a baby bitter melon in the rain, with its flower still attached. Hope to eat some in a few weeks.
Did you know that Japanese typhoons are not given names like in the United States? Today’s typhoon is simply 10W.