suginami

“Have you seen my rice field?”

rice_bucket_tatami_shop

「私たちの田んぼを見ましたか」と聞かれました。畳屋のオーナーは歩道に置いたバケツで稲を育てています。Shibaura HouseのKanto Tour Guideの途中で偶然に会いました。家の畳を変えようかと考えています。

On Shibaura House’s Kanto Tour Guide in Suginami, we saw an open door and a man making tatami mats above the garage. The friendly proprietor of Haketa Tatami shop in Shin Koenji told us that his family has had this business in Suginami for decades, starting with his father. In addition to showing us his craftsmanship, he asked us whether we had seen his “rice field.” It’s in the white bucket, to the left of the shop sign.

I also learned that tatami mats should be changed every 3 or 4 years. Ours are coming up on 6 years, so maybe it’s time to order a new set?

tatami_shop_making

Shibaura House’s Kanto Tour Guide makes a stop at my favorite tonkatsu restaurant

tonki_kanto_tour_guide

Shibaura Houseの依頼で、Kanto Tour Guideの杉並ツアーを書きました。先週、そのツアーを実際に一緒に歩いてみました。最初にとんきという一番好きなトンカツ屋で昼食を食べました。Kanto Tour Guideについては、こちらへどうぞ

Shibaura House asked 10 foreigners living in Kanto to design half day and one day tours, primarily for Japanese to re-discover their country with a new perspective. I wrote a short guide for Suginami, starting with my favorite Higashi Koenji tonkatsu restaurant named Tonki. Shibaura House even made a small tour group flag. I think the chef was surprised by our visit. Afterwards, we visited Amp Coffee, cookie shop Steka & Mojl, Kuge Crafts (手仕事屋久家), and the Suginami Childrens’ Traffic Park near Zenpukuji river.

There’s some great photos on Shibaura House’s Facebook page. Also here. More information about all 10 tours on their website.

Snow in Tokyo covers my in-laws’ garden behind their craft studio

tokyo.snow.feb8.2014

東京の雪が手仕事屋久家の庭を覆いました。20㎝も積もりました。久家先生の写真です。

Record breaking Tokyo snow. 20 centimeters deep. In the back of the Teshigotoya Kuge garden, you can see a native palm covered in powder.

Kuge Crafts (Teshigotoya Kuge) launches new website

teshigotoya-kuge_new_website 旦那の両親が教室を再開しました。手仕事屋久家で、絵画や楽焼や金継ぎを教えます。企画支援もあります。様々な年齢や国籍の人が集まります。私は教室で、最近エアプラントの植木鉢を作りました。杉並区の新高円寺の近くです。お気軽に見学にいらしてください! My in-laws have relaunched their art studio as Kuge Crafts, or Teshigotoya Kuge. They are still teaching pottery and also now kintsugi (a form of decorative repair for ceramics), drawing, and jewelry making. The studio is near Shin Koenji, in Suginami ward. The teachers welcome students from all countries and of all ages. One thing the website doesn’t mention is that delicious cake and coffee are also served at every class! If you’re interested, please call or drop by! Thanks to graphic designer and former student Jessica Mantell and front-end developer Kai Bansner, we made a new website for the studio that is formatted for smart phones, PCs, and tablets.

Giant magnolia towers over home, and shows off wavy branches in winter

giant_magnolia_winter_suginami

家より、このモクレンは背が高いです。杉並で。

This magnolia is huge, and you can see the branch structure clearly in winter.

Suginami ward’s giant green curtain shows positive activity by local government

今年の杉並区役所のグリーンカーテンはすてきです。

When people ask me about positive government action for urban nature, I always point to the Suginami ward’s giant green curtain. This massive screen of vines rises each summer on their eight story ward office next to the Minami Asagaya station on the Marunouchi subway line. It has inspired local residents to create their own balcony green curtains, inserted a huge green space that occupies very little square footage on the ground, and demonstrated that their old office building can be energy saving, attractive, and full of life.

A long line waits at shrine to give an offering at festival

神社の献金を上げるのために、待っている人が多いです。大宮八幡というきれいな神社に、夫は子供のときに、よく行きました。杉並区の善福寺川の隣です

Omiya Hachiman shrine is near where my husband grew up in Suginami ward. It’s also next to a beautiful green corridor that follows the Zenpukuji river.  I love the elegant building, and all the decorations including the purple cloth with Edo crests, the red and white stripes, the rope and lightning bolts, and the big lanterns.

Green corridor zig zags through residential neighborhood, with river and shrine

杉並区の善福寺川は長くて楽しい緑の回廊です。川がジグザグと流れています。このあたりで、夜、本当のタヌキを見ました。

Zenpukuji river is a lovely green corridor in Suginami: walking and biking paths, playing fields, and the large Omiya Hachiman shrine. I love biking by this windy river. Not far from here, I spotted a tanuki crossing the road that leads to a city onsen.

Adding holes to the ceramic studio challenge of making something with a spout

今年の史火陶芸教室のテーマは注ぎ口のついたものです。私の作品には、いっぱい穴があります。注ぎ口を使わないから、ちょっと矛盾しています。生徒の展覧会のために、エアプラントを中に置くつもりです。

This year, the Shiho ceramic studio‘s student show in November will feature everyone making a spout. Every student has their own style, but for the annual show we are all making at least one thing in common. This year’s theme is spouts. I decided to make a few with lots and lots of holes. Since spouts are about pouring liquids, I like the contradiction. I’ll pair them with air plants for the show.

Wood house recalls an earlier time in Suginami

背の高い木がある木材の家に住んでみたいです。杉並区にあるこの家のデザインは、明治時代か大正時代の建物みたいです。

I love walking by this wood house in Suginami. It’s a relic of an earlier time: a large wooden house, mixing Western and Japanese architectural elements, and a large garden. Seeing a remnant from the past makes it easier to imagine what this area once looked and felt like. I’d like to sleep under these huge, old trees.

Fantastic garden entrance for Suginami residence

この自宅の入口はすばらしいですね。庭は背が高くて濃いです。

It is amazing that this house and tall garden still exist in Tokyo. I love how thick the garden is, and how open the entrance is to the street.

Tokyo micro-farm has two long rows of snap peas

世田谷区の住宅の間にある小さい畑に、長くて素敵なスナックエンドウの棚があります。花も野菜も格子のアーチもすばらしいと思います。家で一年中食べられるように、今私は収穫を終わったスナックエンドウを抜いて、そこにキュウリを植えました。

I stopped to admire these two rows of snap peas growing in a micro-farm between the houses. I love the trellis work, and the combination of white flowers and green vegetable.

I was on my bike riding to Nodai (Tokyo University of Agriculture), and cutting across Suginami and Setagaya on this unusually straight, narrow road. I believe there’s a sewer line underneath which makes this long street especially useful above and below ground.

On my balcony, I am going to do a final snap pea harvest this week. The leaves are turning moldy so I think now’s the finish line for this winter crop. I already started some cucumber plants to take over in the summer. I train them on the railing, and then, above that, a net.