At the top of the stairs stands a simple shrine in Izu.
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.
This bulletin board on a JR platform is no longer in use. I wonder how old it is. The simple wood cut-outs of an old style train, mountains, and trees add a rustic feeling to a busy, urban train platform.
Garden Square is located on an enormous plot of land in a quiet residential neighborhood in Nerima, Tokyo. Most of the land looks wild, and is used by a landscaping firm as its nursery. The owner also constructed a rustic chic modern building, with a pastry shop and flower and plant shop on the first floor, and an Italian restaurant on the second floor.
The back yard has a trellised vine, which on closer inspection, turned out to be a kiwi.
Across the street is an open wood structure with more plants for sale, open to passers-by.
Unfortunately, you cannot enter the nursery area. It is strange that this huge urban space appears more like a place for growing plants than retailing them.
U Goto Florist in Roppongi is one of Tokyo’s oldest and most luxurious flower shops. The tray above is a stunning summer arrangement of bamboo fireflies, cactus candles and sand. Founded in 1892 and owned by the third generation of the same family, U Goto prides itself on being Western-style and employs three European flower designers trained in Dutch and French flower academies.
Housed in a 1990s company-owned office building near Roppongi Crossing, U Goto is Western- style in a way that only Japanese could perfect. Multi-roomed and multi-layered, the high ceilinged shop includes cut flowers, fake flowers, and potted plants, and also offers flower-arranging classes. Some examples of unusual arrangements and bamboo framing were on display. The shop fittings– stone floors, marble work tables, distressed cabinets, an excess of crown molding that is still somehow rustic chic– evoke Manhattan or Paris.
I was charmed that the staff offered me a demi-tasse of coffee, which gave me the opportunity to carefully observe them arranging and wrapping lavish bouquets of roses, dahlias, sunflowers and orchids in the finest papers. Orchid petals were carefully protected in cloth paper wrappings.
U Goto’s extremely high standards necessitate removing all flowers and plants that are even slightly past peak. Cut flowers are donated to hospitals, and plants to senior centers. The summer window display below would be replaced after the Obon holiday with a fall display, in spite of the continued heat and humidity. One designer was already thinking forward to the Christmas display.
My friend Britton Watkins was visiting Tokyo on business, and shared with me some of his favorite plant and design stores. Above is his photo of a moss ball in Hanabouzu (花坊主) flower and plant shop in Takaban, Meguro (near Gakugei Daigaku).
Like Sinajina, Hanabouzu offers highly refined, small scale plants. They have modern bonsais, moss balls, and cut flowers in a space next door to a well-known antique shop Otsu, and they share a similar rustic Japanese aesthetic.
There are more photos after the jump.