Arriving at Gardex, the International Garden Expo Tokyo, was a bit of a shock. First, I could not believe how far it was from Tokyo. Past Disney. Past IKEA. Past Costco. Gardex occupied a portion of one of the five mega-halls. The first impression was overwhelming: a hum of electricity and a burst of fluorescent lighting animating a trade show as removed from nature as possible.
The first booth we passed promoted a pesticide company. Spray bottles seemed to float above colorful flowers, a salesperson spoke with much animation into a wireless mic, and lighted towers offered multiples of each product. The photo mural and garish colors seem to contradict the “natural safety” message.
Click below to read and see more about industrial gardening, a cool vertical garden product, and global business.
Recently I visited Suntory Midorie‘s showroom in Aoyama. The entrance vertical green wall with their company name was most impressive in terms of plant diversity and aesthetics. There are also about ten other designs showing the variety of looks they can create with wood frames and internal pump and watering system.
Suntory Midorie has created these indoor walls for offices, malls, cafes, airport lounges, and hair salons in Tokyo and Osaka. The systems use artificial planting material (half the weight of soil), hydroponic systems automated with pumps and timers, with water collecting at the base. The water drips from top to bottom once a week, and Suntory Midorie provides monthly maintenance to its corporate clients.
In addition to these framed walls, Suntory Midorie also makes a horizontal roof top system that’s been used by Mitsui on an office tower near the Imperial Palace to mitigate the heat island effect and lower air conditioning costs. Suntory Midorie has done some exterior green walls, for a cafe, a hotel pool area, and a group of Shibuya vending machines.
A miniature system of small indoor frames, with no mechanical system, is sold online for residences and marketed as something young girls might enjoy taking care of. Suntory Midorie was founded in March 2008, and became independent of its beverage manufacturer parent company Suntory in April 2009.
Japanese corporations are funding innovations in urban ecology. Suntory, one of Japan’s largest beverage companies, has a subsidiary called Suntory Midorie that creates green roofs and green walls. Examples of their work are on display in Shibuya and used on Suntory’s Tokyo headquarters.
Gaia Initiative is a non-profit that brings together corporate leaders and academics to promote environmentalism. They are currently sponsoring anthropologist Takemura Shinichi’s Tangible Earth, a giant globe that provides live data about global warming, climate change, and disaster prevention. The adviser list includes CEOs of leading companies such as Benese, Pasona, Mitsui Fudosan, Doutor Coffee, and Asahi Breweries.
A great source for news in English on Japan’s corporate eco initiatives is CScout Japan, a trend research company. Check out their blog’s “eco” tag.
I wonder if there is this much corporate activism in Europe and the United States. And in Japan, I wonder how corporations can best work with ordinary gardeners to transform cities into urban forests.