Wildness in unused land by rail tracks

I have been thinking about the urban corridors and the distributed real estate that connect city people literally and experientially. Everything from rail lines that take us where we are going to convenience stores that make us feel that we are in the same place no matter where we are. Rail companies and retail chains own or operate so much real estate to make them second only to governments in terms of land ownership and possibilities for remaking our environment.

I love the chaotic, multi-directional rail lines in Yoyogi- two sets of elevated lines and street-grade lines taking traffic from Shinjuku to other parts of Tokyo, towns and resorts to the west, and across Japan. As a pedestrian, the rail crossings slow down your walk and make you aware of the millions of people circulating in Tokyo.

I’ve blogged before about the cool wildflowers with some unplanned cultivation on the sides of the tracks. The rail companies must be concerned about safety, including keeping neighbors safe and also minimizing garbage on the tracks. Yet it’s great that this land exists in a semi-wild state, and cool that it’s so accessible in Yoyogi. I wonder what further uses the lands beside rail tracks and stations could have in cities, suburbs, and countryside. Wildlife habitat, small farms, recreation, bee hives, or other uses.


Sakura at JR stations

Of all the sakura throughout Tokyo, I especially like the ones at train stations. The rail lines are the central arteries for transit and the core of many neighborhoods. You are always entering and leaving the stations, particularly if you do not drive.

For residential areas like Nakano, they are at the center of multiple shopping streets (shoutengai) and bar districts. They are also meeting places. In bigger districts like Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Tokyo Station, Shinagawa, and Shibuya, the station is the central place with the tallest office buildings, hotels, departments stores, and entertainment districts, not to mention connections with suburban towns and distant cities.

Above is a cherry tree at Iidobashi station. I love how the tree is framed by the dusk sky, the office tower and street light. Below are two images of Nakano station, with its busy north exit framed by rows of pink lanterns (chyouchin) and a tree at the end of the plaza.