I love this view of Tokyo from the window next to our elevator. Tokyo is at once dense and variegated, with a mix of two story residential buildings and ten story mid-rises, the towers of Higashi Nakano and Nakano Sakaue, and in the far distance, Sky Tree.
Sunset on my balcony garden is often spectacular. As the sun drops behind Mount Fuji, the garden glows with golden light. I couldn’t decide which of two photos to use, so here is both the waist high and from the ground views.
Our south-facing balcony gets a lot of winter sun. This pink camelia started blooming at new year, and it’s reaching its peak now.
Sometimes I am aware that my home office has a sublime view.
My mint is suddenly full of purple flowers. And in the late afternoon sunlight, the leaves turn gold and red. It’s a fall moment.
I love having herbs on my city balcony: for cooking, for scent, and for variety. Mint is ridiculously easy to grow, and I hope the seeds travel and plant themselves somewhere nearby.
There’s something utilitarian and magnificent about this row of hundreds of commuter bikes lined up outside JR Tokyo’s Ryogoku station on a hot summer afternoon. The sun bakes in this concrete canyon, and even the salary men are wearing short sleeves.
Thursday 5bai Midori delivered the three “satoyama units” I ordered, two for my home and one for Shiho, the pottery studio I attend in Suginami. I was amazed that the delivery service was uninterrupted by Typhoon #18 (known as Melor outside Japan), the first typhoon to hit Japan’s mainland in two years.
5bai Midori’s native plants were more than I expected. It takes 4 weeks from ordering to delivery, and they arrive in large cardboard boxes. When the teachers and students opened the box at Shiho, they found a lizard. I hope he adjusts to life in the big city.
The “satoyama units” are amazing: a mix of small trees, bushes, grasses and vines. The Shiho unit is a 30 centimeter square. The home ones for the balcony are 20 cm square and a rectangle measuring 15 cm by 50 cm. Included is a detailed list of the plants, including name, family name, latin name, description and care instructions. There is even a description of the metal frame and the soil. Attached to many plants are small metal tags with the plant’s name.
I will blog about the seasonal change and growth of these 5bai Midori satoyama units. The locations could not be more different: the home balcony is on a high floor balcony with full southern sun. The pottery studio faces north and is underneath an awning.
The pottery teachers were somewhat concerned about police protests (apparently they previously complained about the air conditioning units that also sit on the small strip of pavement between studio and sidewalk), and the possibility of theft. Still, they are excited to have this live environment which will slow pedestrians down and introduce more people to their studio. If it works out, I’d like to add several more units.
Here are my previous posts about 5bai Midori:
And here are the sketches they created when we first discussed the projects.
The balcony plant list is: Reineckea carnea, Quercus acustissima, Quercus serrata, Camellia sasanqua, Quercus myrsinaefolia, Clematis terniflora, Carex siderosticta, Trachelospermum asiaticum, Trachelospermum jasminoides, Eurya japonica, Petasites japonicus, Ardisia japonica, Liriope muscari, Kerria japonica.
On a small street that connects my apartment to the station, I have noticed these tall sunflowers suddenly appear. They are growing in the tiny public space between a residential concrete block wall and the narrow street. The sunflowers occupy less space than the red JP mail box they stand over. Juxtaposed with the traffic mirror and bed covers airing out in the sun, this burst of yellow screams summer.