stalk

Red spider lilies blooming on pedestrian path signal turn of season

毎年9月にヒガンバナが咲きます。葉がありませんが、この明るい花はきれいです。駅の途中、緑道で季節を感じることができます。

I love these bright red spider lilies, called higanbana in Japanese. They bloom in September with tall stalks, bright flowers, and no leaves. They come back each year along this pedestrian path, and the flower lasts only a week or so. Last year, too, I saw them everywhere in Tokyo. I like how they mark the turn of season.

New year decorations

Above is a kadomatsu, or new year’s decoration that rests on the ground. These large ones are usually in front of businesses. This one is in front of one of my favorite Tokyo haunts: the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium constructed for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and open to the public now in central Tokyo.

The materials are bamboo, pine, straw and red berries. I love the decorative rope flower and the splayed straw at the base. Below is the shimekazari hanging outside of our apartment door. Notice the folded paper and rice stalk. After the holiday, these plant-based new year’s symbols are  burned at shrines. So different than the un-ceremonial sidewalk dumping of US Christmas trees.

Happy new year! Best wishes for a bright new decade.

Ginza Farm’s rice is almost ripe

Ginza Farm's rice just before harvest

On the first day of October, I visited Ginza Farm, and saw the rice is almost ready to be harvested.  San Francisco Chronicle’s transportation reporter asked to interview me about Tokyo Green Space, and I thought there was no better public place to meet than Ginza Farm. The reporter’s interpreter told us that one sign that the rice is close to being ready is that the stalks start to droop under the weight of the grains.

Rice study at Nodai

Rice study at Nodai

Watching students study rice in a field lab reminded me that, yes, I am really affiliated with an agricultural university in Japan. Nodai is the Tokyo University of Agriculture. The students were counting the number of rice stalks and the number of grains in each specimen. I wonder if the variables involved the plant, the growing medium or environment. The students looked very serious.

Rice study at Nodai