Some garden highlights, starting with one of the eight climbing vines



The eighth, and most recent, climbing vine I bought was a 150 yen variegated Edo morning glory. The flowers are red, and the two colored leaves add variety to the green curtain. It’s not too late to get one started this summer.


The same Western house, now deconstructed



In the heat of summer, the young workers dismantled the 1970s house seen in the last post. The demolition reveals the steel structure and large internal courtyard.

“These are Japanese tabi,” announces the young demolition worker

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On my way to the station, I first notice a large truck parked in front of an old house. A minute further down the small street, this orange-haired youth greets me, and points at his shoes, saying “these are Japanese tabi.” Tabi are the mitten-like shoes worn by Japanese construction workers and farmers. He very willingly posed for his portrait, with the demolition site in the background.

This is the start of a series on the demolition of two adjacent Nakano houses. One was, at one time, an elegant and understated Showa-era home, with clean lines and a few blue ceramic roof tiles as decoration. It’s neighbor is a more international-style home from perhaps the 1970s. The demolition took place during the heat of summer in August.

Home demolitions give you a rare peak inside the homes of strangers, allowing you to see interior courtyards, old kitchens, and other “private spaces.” The demolition requires weeks of dismantling and trash sorting. There’s some machinery for the heavy lifting, but much of the energy for these small projects comes from youth.

This Edo morning glory is white with pink veins



Taken in mid-summer. This is the end of the summer balcony detail series.

Okinawa morning glory became dominant element of summer balcony garden



When it was blooming prolifically, the Okinawa morning glory became an exterior screen between the apartment and the city outside. The shades of violet, red and blue are stunning.

A hazy day at the beach in Enoshima



I also attended a large beach party In East Enoshima, in Kanagawa. It’s very picturesque, but the water was not so clean.

Sky Tree, the view from below and from up top



Hitachi recently invited me to visit Sky Tree this summer. I’d delayed visiting because it seems far away from where we live, and because of the long lines. Seeing it complete, however, is very impressive with its exposed structure and unbelievable city views. I recommend going at twilight when the sunlight is dramatic, and then slowly the city lights up as the sky darkens.

Hitachi is responsible for the elevator between the first and the top observatory decks. In addition to its large capacity, the elevator ascends very quickly and is thus a showcase for Hitachi’s latest technologies. I was surprised to learn that when it is windy, this upper elevator is often closed for passenger safety.

I loved seeing the bay, the Sumida River, Marunouchi and in the distance Shinjuku.

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



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.

This lovely shiso plant is growing in a small crack in the sidewalk


The four seasons micro garden I often pass on the way to the station has a new summer addition. Shiso is growing from a crack. Almost all the other plants are in pots, so I wonder if this was planted or just sprung up naturally. It looks delicious!

Kitchen, balcony, and city in one frame, plus new summer fig tree


This is the view from one end of our narrow balcony to the other, facing east towards Shinjuku. The twin towers are the Tokyo Metropolitan Government buildings, and to the right is the Park Hyatt hotel from the movie Lost in Translation. In the foreground is the fig tree, a new addition this summer.


Tanuki arrives at a summer house party with a scrotum full of ice cream



It’s a small jungle in summer on my Tokyo balcony garden


In summer, lush foliage dominates my balcony garden. The morning glory curtain continues to bloom facing the sun, but inside there’s a cacophony of leaf shape and color tone, including olive, fig, and camellia. With so much new growth, you can hardly see the narrow wood path.

The top two photos face west and east. The lowest photo also faces east, and shows the layering of shoulder high and knee high plants. The grass plant in the white ceramic has some red leaves, which make a dynamic accent to the many shades of green.

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Succulents on top of the air conditioner look good in heat of summer



The balcony summer hotspot is the air conditioner, almost always on and blowing hot air. This summer, I’m enjoying succulents which seem fine on top, but probably not in front, of the a/c. They have fun colors, shapes, and even textures. The ceramics were made at Kuge Crafts.


Grove of trees shimmers in summer heat


Definitely a cool spot between Shiba Koen and the office and commercial district leading to Hamamatsucho.