Before the leaves appear, nothing but vertical lines


The ginkgo trees before the leaves sprout echo the atrocious Docomo tower in Shinjuku. Even the bicyclist adds to the vertical theme.

Fall foliage extended all the way to winter


Because fall remained warm in Tokyo, the fall foliage extended all the way to the end of the year. The last few leaves are dropping now. Here’s the view from entrance to the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium out towards Shinjuku Gyoen, the elevated freeway, and the Sendagaya station.

Irises blooming in central Tokyo

I have found this wonderful short-cut between Yoyogi and Omotesando on bike. It passes a lot of houses with gardens. On my way to a meeting, I had a nice long chat with a small office owner who was tending a beautiful clematis vine. And then I saw this house with irises outside. If you ignore that you are in the center of Tokyo, it seems like a simple country house, no?

Yellow fall foliage on street tree and at park

Fall foliage in Tokyo is spectacular. I took these two images on a Sunday walk: the one above in Shinjuku Gyoen, the one below on the boulevard near Sendagaya JR station. I wish Tokyo had more mature trees.

Modular succulent garden outside restaurant

You don’t see that many succulent gardens in Tokyo, probably because of the heavy rain. A restaurant I frequent, Enjoy! East, suddenly sported these two modular units with a lovely succulent garden, and odd message about “farm of the people.”

I wouldn’t call it a farm, but it’s a lovely addition to the sidewalk, and a generous invitation to passers-by to stop and check out the excellent food at Sendagaya’s Enjoy restaurant. It should be super low-maintenance, and with the proper soil it should drain well to keep the plants healthy.

Beautiful water plants in bowl outside Shizen

I love these water plants outside of Shizen in Sendagaya. Shizen is a stylish pottery, homewares, and plant store on the ground floor, with a great restaurant with very reasonably priced lunch specials on the second floor, and a roof garden. A simple bowl with plants can really add visual impact to a central city sidewalk.

Giant sidewalk sunflowers in full bloom

These giant sidewalk sunflowers are in full bloom and towering over the pedestrians. I am amazed by their height, and the cheer they bring to this marginal space between the sidewalk and street in Sendagaya. They are much taller now than just a few weeks ago.

Bitter melon green curtain

A Sendagaya gardener is growing bitter melon on a mesh net for summer. You can see the prickly green vegetables (tastes great with ground pork). In the context photo, you can see how easy it is to grow in a small size pot on the sidewalk. I like how it covers the window, and dwarfs in size the vending machine.

Sunflowers on sidewalk

I love the small strips of green space between the sidewalk and the street. Generally, orderly bushes like azaleas are maintained by the local government. But there is always also a mix of volunteers plants and volunteer gardeners. In the scorching heat of July, these sunflowers are well over two meters tall. A week after taking this photo, I saw that the flowers had opened.

Growing sidewalk rice in styrofoam box

I wonder what this sidewalk rice tastes like? Will the gardener make a special meal with it? It’s great to see how enthusiastic people are to grow the most basic Japanese food, using a recycled styrofoam box. This same gardener is also growing cherry tomatoes and ornamentals. I like the juxtaposition of street, plants, and laundry hanging to dry.

Simple wood bench provides resting place at city shrine

On my walk with Chris Berthelsen through Harajuku, Jingumae, and Sendagaya, we stumbled into the Hatomori shrine (鳩森神社). In front of its splendid Noh theater, we noticed several lovely and very simple benches made of logs and what look like giant metal staples. Along with plenty of shade, it’s great this city shrine also provides a place to rest.