shop

Giant sidewalk weed is as tall as the shop behind it. Anyone know what it is?

giant_weed_sidewalk_shop_yoyogi_uehara

不便なところなのに、この背の高い雑草がお店の前に育っています。店のオーナは気にしていないようです。誰かこの植物の名前を知っていますか。

It seems that the shop owner has long accommodated herself and her shop to the annual giant weed that ‘s growing just in front. The leaves are enormous. What is this summer weed?

UPDATE: Thanks to my smart readers, I’ve learned it’s called キリ (kiri) in Japanese and Paulownia tomentosa in Latin.

Have you seen this cactus bonsai shop in Tokyo?

qusamura_cactus_bonsai_shop

サボテンの盆栽をはじめて見ました。AQというユーザー・エクスペリエンス(UX)の会社の友だちは、Qusamuraのきれいなデザインが大好きだそうです。

My friends at AQ, a Tokyo user experience agency, are big fans of Qusamura’s cactus bonsai. Lovely design.

Rediscovering film photography

この二年間、ブログの写真は全部、Canon S90の自動露出のデジタルカメラを使っていました。先月、中古のフィルムカメラを買いました。最後にフィルムを使ったときは、1990年代にリオデジャネイロに住んでいたときです。和田のホリユチのラボが現像しました。もうすぐブログに最初のフィルムの写真をのせます。

My tiny point and shoot Canon S90 has provided almost all the photos on Tokyo Green Space. Inspired by seeing the revival of film cameras, and assisted by B/B who gave me advice and a tour of Nakano’s famous Fujiya used camera shop, I’ve just started taking film photographs with a super cheap Canon EOS Kiss 5 camera body and a good 50 mm lens.

I’m excited about improving my photography skills, and seeing what film can do. It’s also fun to go to film labs. I took my first roll to Horiuchi’s main office in nearby Wada. The last time I used a professional lab I was a graduate student in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in the 1990s. What I like about the Wada location is that, although very close to where I live, I always get lost going there by bike.

Clothing boutique has unusual garden entrance

代官山にあるフランスのブティックは珍しい庭の入口があります。森のトンネルみたいです。

I recently stumbled upon this garden entrance to the APC boutique in Daikanyama. It’s nice to see outdoor retail space dedicated to a garden path, unusual plant selections, and lovely night-time lighting. It’s like a forest tunnel.

Pop-up plant and flower shop in Shibaura

このきれいな花屋は芝浦の空き地を利用しています。私だけじゃなくて、自転車を使って植物を買っている客が他にもいます。

I like how this flower and plant shop occupies this empty lot on a Shibaura side street. It’s also nice to see that others use their bikes for plant shopping.

A day in Tokyo in 1963

1963年の東京と今日の東京はどう違いますか。面白い昭和の短い映画はそのころの日常を見られます。

This almost 50 year old short firm provides a nostalgic view of daily life in 1963 Tokyo: a family wakes up in the morning, takes the train to work, shops in Ginza, and travels through the metropolis. Showa Tokyo’s trains and sheer density don’t look that different than today. While fashion changes and the city gets even bigger, it is amazing how much remains the same. (Via @rolandkelts).

Summer of green walls on mid-rise offices and retail buildings

節電のために、この夏は東京のどこでもグリーン・ウォール「垂直の庭」が作られています。混雑して、背が高い都市では、垂直の表面のほうが屋根より多いです。まず、杉並区役所とマンションのベランダでグリーン・カーテンが作られました。今、事務所や店の建物で、グリーン・ウォ―ルを作りはじめました。夏にグリーン・カーテンはヒートアイランド現象の緩和のために良くて、一年中、グーリン・ウォールは庭や農園や生息地を提供します。この写真を芝公園、新宿御苑前、大井町、大門で撮りました。

Spurred by the energy crisis post-Fukushima, there’s been a notable increase in the number of mid-rise office and retail buildings with green walls. In an over-built city, vertical surfaces are the largest potential area for gardening, farming, and habitat creation.

Tokyo has far more vertical surfaces than roof areas, and we are only at the very beginning of creating an urban forest.

I have been following this topic for a while, and have watched this idea spread from notable public spaces like Suginami’s ward office (world’s largest green curtain) to apartment balconies, flower shops, and now commercial and retail spaces. This wide distribution across Tokyo and across building types is very exciting to see.

Some questions I have include:

  • What types of plants can be grown vertically and for what functions: aesthetics, habitat, scent, seasonal change, food?
  • How can green walls enhance innovative architecture and place-making?
  • How can vertical and roof gardens connect buildings, neighbors, and wildlife?
  • What is the impact on heat island effect, global competitiveness, and quality of life?

The answers will come from experimentation and diffusion. The photos, from top to bottom, are four green walls I’ve recently seen:

1. Hasegawa Green Building in Shiba Koen

2. Office mid-rise in Shinjuku Gyoen-mae (2 photos). The company that created and maintains this green wall is called Ishikatsu Exterior (石勝イクステリア).

3. Oimachi retail building near station.

4. Daimon office building.

7-Eleven quickly replaces light bulbs at local store

セブン・イレブンがすばやく電球を変えています。節電のために、LEDは大切です。百万人以上が新しい照明を見ることができるでしょう。この近所の店では、施工中なのに、店舗は営業しています。LEDのほうがきれいだと思いますか?

It’s very impressive how quickly 7-Eleven can install new lighting. LEDs are a huge shift in lighting, and this very prominent example will influence millions of consumers.

Many companies have agreed to large energy reductions, up to 20 and 25 percent. I noticed this van outside my local 7-Eleven yesterday. They changed the store’s lighting to LEDs without closing the business. Another store I passed yesterday in western Tokyo was also updated. I wonder how soon all the 7-Elevens will be using these very low energy lights.

I think the new strips of small lights produce a more pleasant light than the old fluorescent tubes. What do you think?

Revisiting Kaza Hana

青山の路地で風花という花屋を訪れるのがいつも楽しみです。壁の庭本当に美しいだと思っています。

Set off from the main street in Aoyama (246), Kaza Hana is one of my favorite Tokyo flower and garden design stores. I love how they have transformed the exterior of the shop into an incredibly dense and complex vertical garden. It’s a great place for lunch or coffee, or to pick up a gift. Or just admire the amazing wall gardens and displays.

When I was there, I bought a bouquet of moss-like carnations called テマリソウ (temarisou) as an office gift for Tokyo Art Beat. I hadn’t seen this bloom sold before, and it seems to have recently been introduced to European florists by Dutch plant breeder Hilverda Green Trick Carnation as Dianthus barbatus “Green Trick.”

Related: see photos and story from last year’s visit.


My first Tokyo balcony blueberry

はじめてのブルーベリーです。ベランダで育っています。去年も今年も、東京のあちこちでブルーベリーが売られているのを見ました。

This is my first balcony blueberry. Since last year, I have noticed more blueberry plants for sale in Tokyo, from home centers to neighborhood flower and plant shops. I am eager to see how easy it is to grow them in Tokyo, especially in my balcony container garden.

Green wall outside liquor shop at Nishi Ogikubo station

Liquor shop’s green wall captures attention at JR station in Nishi Ogikubo.

西荻窪駅で、酒屋の緑の壁は注目を集めります。

I like this green wall surrounding the Dila liquor shop as you exit the Nishi Ogikubo JR station. It brightens up the station entrance and draws attention to the shop. It looks like the same type of wall system and plants that Marui uses inside its Shinjuku san-chome store and in the basement near the subway.

I hope this trend catches on, and more commercial spaces see the benefits of green walls. It would be great to see a greater variety of plants, rainwater catchment and re-use, and habitat creation. For now, any green wall catches attention, but perhaps soon there will be more experimentation and creativity.

Weekly flower display at Kiba Metro Station

Thanks to Chris Palmieri of AQ design studio, here are two photos of a weekly flower display at Kiba Station, on Tokyo Metro’s Tozai line (T-13). The flower arrangement is created by a flower shop called Kawashima (フラワーショップ・カワシマ) in what seems to be an informal public-private partnership.

I like how the local flower shop is offering this public improvement and receiving some publicity for their work. It’s also incredibly lovely that they provide the names of the flowers they use with a simple hand drawing. My only question is why they are unable to make a slight improvement to the scuffed stand.

In the US or Europe, I imagine the entire arrangement, including the vase, would be quickly stolen. In Japan, there is much more opportunity to share individual and small business gardening with strangers.

Potted plant in bicycle basket

It’s awesome that someone has parked their bike illegally in Nakano’s Sun Mall after the shops have closed. Did the bicycle owner leave the potted plant in the basket, or did a stranger deposit it there? The city has a million stories, and this one combines two of my favorite city companions.

Japanese anemone signal fall

I have always loved shade-tolerant, fall flowering Japanese anemone. As soon as it started to get cold, I bought a white one for my balcony garden, and placed it inside one of my hand-made, ceramic flower pots.

I was surprised when a local flower shop owner told me the name in Japanese: shumeikiku (シュウメイキク, or 秋明菊). She insisted that it is, in fact, not an anemone. For Japanese, “anemone” flowers in spring and early summer, and it seems to be in the buttercup family Ranunculaceae.

This naming confusion is quite common with flowers and plants.What we call Japanese maple, the Japanese call momiji (モミジ). Often the English name covers what for Japanese is several different flowers; a good example is azalea.

The funniest thing about the “Japanese anemone” name is that it is both relatively recent and a European hybrid of a Chinese cultivar. I love the national origin confusion, and the fact that this gorgeous plant is man-made.