Summer is the season for school field trips. There seemed to be more than one hundred students on this field trip.
The kilometers of mature gingkos lining Omeikaido make this wide and busy boulevard much more enjoyable. The yellow leaves are now, of course, all gone. But since I am posting more film photographs, I want to share some of my favorite fall photos that were recently developed. Fallen gingko leaves, school uniforms, umbrellas, face masks, and a slow-moving sidewalk bike are a perfect urban scene.
Attending a guest lecture by permaculture designer Cecilia Macaulay gave me a great chance to see one campus of the famous Tamabi art school. This was taken in November so perhaps the lawn and trees no longer so lush.
Less than one week later, it feels like a spring afternoon. Tokyo becomes oddly quiet during heavy snowfall. Fewer cars, fewer people outside. This cherry tree outside my local elementary school will be blooming in just one more month.
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?
アムステルダムで住んでいる友だちは今月、日本で “tanemaki project”（種まきプロジェクト）をしています (@tanemaki2011) 。チューリップとパンケーキのワークショップを行います。寄付金付きを集めて、東北の仮設学校を飾ります。
My Amsterdam-based friends Hiyoko and Mark are in Japan this month developing their Tanemaki (planting) project (twitter @tanemaki2011). Hiyoko is a superb illustrator, and she’s organizing events to support decorating a temporary school in Tohoku. Last week they led a fun two-day tulip workshop at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, and this Saturday will be a pancake-making event with Mammoth School. It’s great to see them developing connections between Japan and the Netherlands, which have a special and long relation.
(Image: Hiyoko Imai).
最近、古いケヤキを支える木造の補助 ができました。下を歩くと、近所の方も、この補助と木を見ているのに気がつきました。２つの役割 があります。木を守るだけでなく、近所の方がこの木は特別だと気がつきます。多分、この木はこの近所で一番古い木です。木造の補助は神社の鳥居みたいです。
Recently, I’ve noticed this enormous new wood support for the giant zelkova tree in front of my local elementary school. I’ve noticed other neighbors stopping to admire the giant support and the tree.
I like how the elegant support structure protects the tree and also draws attention to its significance. This traditional style Japanese garden technique also evokes the gates outside Shinto shrines.
I’ve blogged about this landmark tree before in April and also last year. One sign says that it’s 1,000 years old. While I doubt that, it’s still a remarkable tree, and probably the oldest living being in the neighborhood.
Even in my small balcony garden, I have an area under a plant shelf where I store plants that are dormant or less interesting. Shu recently discovered tall flower stalks on the Cherry Nymph amaryllis from two winters ago. Our amaryllis produced two enormous flowers during rainy season.
I noticed in the neighborhood that others also had this amaryllis blooming now, including several pots right alongside Nakano Dori. Below my plant is a recycled nursery school chair from Shizuoka. It’s of course very small, which fits our balcony, but it’s also surprisingly strong.
Even though I will be surprised if these pansies can live more than one week in the fluorescent flooded station, it’s lovely to see the flowers with their label identifying the local elementary school. How cool that the students are offering the station something alive.
The new leaves on this old zelkovia welcome a new school year at the elementary school in Nakano. In Japan, the school year, new hires, and the new fiscal year all start on April 1. Most schools have a cherry tree which is often in full bloom at school start. The zelkova leaf out in the following weeks. More subtle than cherry blossoms, new leaves are a lovely spring sight.
I’ve taken photos of the same tree in late winter last year.
Maybe you don’t associate cherry trees and palm trees. They are an odd pair, with this type of palm tree being a self-sower in Tokyo, and the cherries being selected from nurseries and carefully tended for decades.
By now, the cherry blossoms are ending. The petals pool up in a pink carpet, and new leafs shoot out from the dark branches. Once there’s more green than pink, this cherry mini-season is officially over.
Here are some photos of cherry blossoms seen walking and taking the train in my neighborhood. A dusty elementary school soccer field is bordered by shuro palm trees and cherry trees in full bloom. Waiting for the JR train, the platforms face into a canopy of mature trees. On a small street, fallen blossoms attract a child’s attention.
The big cherry blossom sites, including Inokashira park, Yoyogi park and Yasukuni shrine, are wonderful places for get-togethers with outdoor drinking and eating. But I also love seeing the cherry trees in full bloom while walking around the city. This old cherry tree is blooming on a small street, with the Nakano high rise telecom tower in the background.
I also love how every public school has at least one cherry tree at the entrance; the elementary school nearby has a dusty soccer field surrounded on three side by gorgeous cherries.
A reminder that tomorrow night is the Tokyo DIY Gardening Workshop at 3331 Arts Chiyoda, a great new arts space in a converted junior high school. I took these photos last week when I went there for a planning meeting with my workshop co-organizer Chris Berthelsen of Fixes. It’s great that in addition to all the art exhibit, gallery and office spaces inside, the front of the 3331 Arts Chiyoda is a very welcoming park with a lawn and shade trees (plus a very popular smoking area next to a public bathroom).
For non-Japanese and non-parents, it’s a great experience to see the inside and even the roof of what seems like a typical city school: old wood shoe lockers, simple yet sturdy furniture, and rooms that seem very Bauhaus in their streamlined functionality. The roof is also interesting because for city schools that is probably where most if not all recreation takes place. For some reason the art space created this small lawn area, and of course I followed Chris’ lead in taking off my sandals and walking bare-foot on the grass.
3331 Arts Chiyoda has also set up dozens of rental plots for people who want to grow vegetables. If anyone is nearby, there seem to be plenty of vacant spaces, and it would be a cool place to grow vegetables and to get to know the arts groups and activities in the building.
The chain link fence on the sides and top, the institutional clock, even the caged loudspeakers evoke an ordinary childhood scene that is unfamiliar to me. It’s cool to experience these spaces, and imagine that many of the people I know in Tokyo attended schools like this.
I mentioned earlier the cool new art space called 3331 Arts Chiyoda that has been created in a closed junior high school. One of the fun installations was this classroom with a tree growing in a washing machine, and a video projection showing this unlikely pair being pushed around the neighborhood. Somehow combining these basic city elements and moving them through unexpected environments is comical and surreal.
3331 Arts Chiyoda is a cool art space recently created by the Chiyoda ward government. They converted an old junior high school into exhibition galleries, art studios, and creative industry offices. In addition to a beautiful remodel of the unused school building, the ward also refurbished a small park at the entrance.
Katsuhiko Hibino created this created this beautiful morning glory green curtain rising on the front side of 3331 Arts Chiyoda. Called the Asatte Asago project, the morning glory seeds here had been taken to space by Japanese astronaut Naoko Yamasaki. The project involves community gardening and sharing across different regions of Japan.
Other green projects at 3331 Arts Chiyoda include Chaco Kato’s”Slow Wheat” project at the cafe, with wheat grass plants that will be used as a health drink. The art space is also offering small vegetable plots on the school’s rooftop. If you live nearby, check it out!
On August 21, 2010, Chris Berthelsen of Fixes and I will lead a bilingual interactive workshop on greening the city from 7 to 9 pm. More details will appear soon. The same day, Kato-san will be teaching a beginner’s compost class in the late afternoon.