urban

Balcony lavender surrounded by strawberry, snap pea, and roofs

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来週、芝浦ハウスのコミュニティー・ハーブ・ガーデンについて話します。ハーブは味、料理、薬草、香水として使えます。都市の小さなスペースでも、ハーブは逞しく育ち、日常生活に役に立ちます。このベランダのラベンダーは東京の蝶を引き付けます。

Next week I am talking at Shibaura House’s Community Herb Garden talk event. Herbs can be used for flavor, food, medicine, and perfume. Even in small urban spaces, herbs are very tough and can be used in daily life. This balcony lavender attracts Tokyo butterflies.

Launching new Japanese Gardens Outside Japan website for Nodai

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海外の日本庭園についての新しいサイトが立ち上げになりました。このサイトには、アフリカからロシアまで、何百もの日本庭園が紹介されています。サイトのスポンサーは著名な専門家である東京農業大学の鈴木誠教授です。日本庭園は生きた芸術作品であるため、地域社会との継続した様々なサポートが必要です。きれいなサイトデザインとロゴは、イアン・リナムさん(Ian Lynam)のおかげです。よろしくお願いいたします!

I am very pleased to announce a new website that provides scholarly and general public information about the hundreds of Japanese gardens outside Japan. This project puts online the database of Tokyo University of Agriculture’s Professor Makoto SUZUKI, the world’s expert on this unique Japanese cultural export. There are Japanese gardens in six continents, in conditions ranging from arid Australia to urban Brazil. I hope that my blog readers may have the opportunity to visit one of these living art works near where they live or travel.

A special thanks to the incomparably talented Ian Lynam, who created the visual design and the logo for the new Center for International Japanese Garden Studies.

nodai_garden_brooklyn_botanic_B Nodai_CIJGS_logo_t

Domesticated Mount Fuji in today’s Edo

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江戸時代から、富士山と都市は一緒にイメージされています。最近、富士山の噴火に関する記事が多いですね。

Recently, there have been several reports that Mount Fuji may erupt and cause an earthquake, or vice versa. What I love about this giant volcano is its utterly domestic and urban nature. Today’s urban views, completely with laundry drying, are an extension of hundreds of years of Edo visual representation.

Long public path at Shinjuku Gyoen is an idyllic nature escape

新宿御苑の脇にある長い路はきれいです。木陰も小川もあります。夏は涼しいです。

It’s always fun to walk along this public path on the Shinjuku side of Shinjuku Gyoen. Shaded by tall trees, it’s a pleasant escape from the hard urban surfaces. There’s even a reconstructed creek to evoke the springs and rivers that used to flow naturally here.

Iconic New York City public spaces

ニューヨークのハイラインという新しい公園もセントラルパークも象徴的な公共空間です。自然と都市の関係がうまくできていて、気分がいいです。1934年から1980年まで使われていた電車の高架線路を公園にしたのが、ハイラインです。

On a recent trip to New York City, I took my film camera to some iconic parks. Above is the reservoir in Central Park, a place for exercise, leisure, and path between Upper East Side and Upper West Side.

Below is the High Line, a more recent park created from a dis-used elevated train line west of Chelsea. I love how in both environments, you can enjoy nature and feel connected to an urban landscape.

English artist Simon Parish sent me his lovely drawings of Tokyo potted plant gardens

サイモン・パリッシュというイギリスのアーチストから、東京の植木鉢の庭の絵をいただきました。二十年前に東京に住んでいたそうですが、今でも東京の感じをよく覚えているんですね。

I was pleasantly surprised to hear from English artist Simon Parish, who shared with me (and my readers) his drawings of Tokyo potted plant gardens. I love his compositions, the contrast between the line drawings and the (hand-colored?) plants and pots, the mix of cultivated and semi-wild urban vegetation.

Simon explained that he lived in Tokyo about 20 years ago. I am super impressed with his current art work, and feels it evokes the types of Tokyo city gardens that this blog celebrates. Maybe, garden-wise, Tokyo does not change so much over the decades or even centuries.

Lotus 149 publishes my photos of urban rice farming in Tokyo

「Lotus』というイタリアの雑誌に私の東京の農園の写真が二つでました。パソナのロビーの田んぼ銀座農園の空き地の田んぼの写真が選ばれました。「Lotus』には素敵な建築のプロジェクットがたくさんのっています。四角いかたちです。もっと東京のグリーンスペースを雑誌に紹介したいです。

Lotus Editorial kindly sent me a copy of Lotus 149, titled Lotus in the Field, which explores the relations with the countryside. Lotus is a beautifully designed, Italian-English bilingual architecture quarterly from Milan.

Lotus 149 includes two of my urban agriculture photographs: one of Pasona’s corporate lobby rice field, the other an outdoor, temporary rice field in Ginza that took advantage of an empty lot between demolition and new construction.

I was happy to see that my Pasona photograph extends into a second page, and I like how the image shows a more ambivalent side of the project than the text and photos provided by the architects and corporation. Especially with the post-3.11 energy shortages after the nuke plants have been suspended, creating a show garden with grow lights looks less than utopian.

You can see the original 2009 and 2010 posts on Tokyo Green Space that inspired Lotus 149: about Pasona, and about Ginza Farm.

Simple filler plant chosen for leaf color is on creepy edge of bio-tech and urban garden marketing

色がおしゃれなので、最近この濃い葉の植物を買いました。ラベルにはおかしなマーケティング戦術が見えます。前には、「テラス・ブロンズ」という名前しかありません。色はブロンズというより、もっと紫に近いです。さらに、グリーンカーテンにと書いてありますが、この植物は登らないで、しだれます。サントリー製品で、無断で商品として使えません。ヒルガオとアサガオに関係します。
I bought this dark leafed plant as filler and good contrast in leaf color.
When I brought it home from Shimachu, our home center, I realized that the front label doesn’t even mention a horticultural name. It’s simply called “terrace bronze,” and it’s marketed as a balcony plant in their “terrace series.” Oddly, they even suggest it as a “green curtain” plant, although it would make a better weeping wall cover than climber.
On the label’s flip side, the tag explains how Suntory reserves all rights to this species, including any future plants. Kind of scary, no?

Espaliered persimmon in front of Aoyama school

「espalier」というフランス語の意味は木を垣根仕立てにすることです。東京ではちょっと珍しいですけど、混雑した都市の中で、この二次元にされた植物は適切です。最近、学校の前に背の高い垣根仕立てにした柿の木を見ました。

I am a big fan of espaliered trees. By pruning a tree into a 2D shape, it fits into the dense urban landscape. Here’s a mature, espaliered persimmon tree in front of a public school in Aoyama. I wonder if the kids will eat the fruit.

I am going to be posting this week different fall fruit trees I’ve seen over the past few weeks. What is your favorite urban fruit tree?

Purple berries on murasaki shikibu pop on light green foliage

紫式部の果実は薄緑の葉に似合います。この特別な秋の植物は『5倍緑』という都市里山箱のなかで成長します。史火陶芸教室の前を、歩行者が注目しています。季節ごとに、小さい風景ができあがります。史火のホームペジで、この5倍緑箱が二年前にどんなだったかを見られます。

I love how the purple berries pop against the light green foliage. This hardy shrub is a classic fall marker, and a reference to the female novelist of the thousand year old Tale of Genji. Unlike my balcony specimen, which dropped its berries while still green, this one outside Shiho ceramic studio looks fantastic. It’s growing in a 5bai midori, the modular urban satoyama box.

I bought the first box two years ago, and the second last year. They really thrive on this north-facing sidewalk and draw attention to the studio and store. If you click on Shiho’s website, you can see on the home page how small the first one was. It just needs lots of water, and very occasional pruning. There are so many local species that each season has something special and evocative of the Japanese landscape.

Real estate image of forest doesn’t match surroundings

最近、贅沢な不動産開発が自然のイメージを広告に使っています。広告の中の田舎の森や現場から離れた風景を見ていると妙な 気持ちになります。本当の都市の森を作れば、不動産の価格はもっと上がります。西新宿で都市の森はどんな風に見えるだろう。

I’ve noticed recently more and more real estate advertising at construction sites and at recently completed buildings that show images of forests or famous urban landscapes that are nowhere near the location. A new luxury development rising at Jingumae 3 chome #37, the site of the former Harajuku Danchi, shows a photo of the ginko trees turning yellow on Icho Namaiki (いちょう並木).

Above is Nishi Shinjuku, which has several new office towers and new apartments on Ome Kaido, towards Nakano Sakaue. Following regulations, these buildings have planted street trees. But it is comical to see the image of a path meandering through a forest that’s half way up the new apartment building.

On the one hand, it’s good to see city people still dream of forests. On the other hand, these wealthy developers and the City of Tokyo regulators could increase the value of their properties by actually turning this marketing image into a reality.

What could an urban forest look like at this intersection?

Summer of green walls on mid-rise offices and retail buildings

節電のために、この夏は東京のどこでもグリーン・ウォール「垂直の庭」が作られています。混雑して、背が高い都市では、垂直の表面のほうが屋根より多いです。まず、杉並区役所とマンションのベランダでグリーン・カーテンが作られました。今、事務所や店の建物で、グリーン・ウォ―ルを作りはじめました。夏にグリーン・カーテンはヒートアイランド現象の緩和のために良くて、一年中、グーリン・ウォールは庭や農園や生息地を提供します。この写真を芝公園、新宿御苑前、大井町、大門で撮りました。

Spurred by the energy crisis post-Fukushima, there’s been a notable increase in the number of mid-rise office and retail buildings with green walls. In an over-built city, vertical surfaces are the largest potential area for gardening, farming, and habitat creation.

Tokyo has far more vertical surfaces than roof areas, and we are only at the very beginning of creating an urban forest.

I have been following this topic for a while, and have watched this idea spread from notable public spaces like Suginami’s ward office (world’s largest green curtain) to apartment balconies, flower shops, and now commercial and retail spaces. This wide distribution across Tokyo and across building types is very exciting to see.

Some questions I have include:

  • What types of plants can be grown vertically and for what functions: aesthetics, habitat, scent, seasonal change, food?
  • How can green walls enhance innovative architecture and place-making?
  • How can vertical and roof gardens connect buildings, neighbors, and wildlife?
  • What is the impact on heat island effect, global competitiveness, and quality of life?

The answers will come from experimentation and diffusion. The photos, from top to bottom, are four green walls I’ve recently seen:

1. Hasegawa Green Building in Shiba Koen

2. Office mid-rise in Shinjuku Gyoen-mae (2 photos). The company that created and maintains this green wall is called Ishikatsu Exterior (石勝イクステリア).

3. Oimachi retail building near station.

4. Daimon office building.

Two plants cover home in central Tokyo

2つの植物が家を完全に覆ってしまいました。混雑した都市の中で、簡単な壁の庭がぼくたちを元気づけてくれます。
I am so impressed with the utter simplicity of this residential garden. Using practically no space, this vertical garden consists mostly of one well trimmed magnolia tree and a vine that screen the home. I don’t know whether credit should go to the rain-soaked climate or a smart home-owner. This house shows what’s possible in terms of ample plant growth in the most minimal of urban spaces. With more of these gardens, Tokyo would see lower summer temperatures, more wildlife, and a great quality of urban life.

Giving a talk at the Portland Japanese Garden

ポートランドの日本庭園で、「都市グリーン」というプログラムに参加します。5月26日、私は「東日本大地震後の東京グリーン・スペース」の発表をします。24日は、品品の小林先生が盆栽ワークショップを教えます。26日は、小林先生の盆栽の展覧会が催されます。

I am very excited to travel to the Portland Japanese Garden next week as part of their Urban Green program. My good friend Kobyashi Kenji, of Tokyo’s Sinajina, will be leading a bonsai-making workshop on May 24, and opening his bonsai exhibit on the 26th. As part of the opening, I will give a talk on Greening Tokyo after Tohoku.

It’s a great honor to participate in the excellent cultural programming at the Portland Japanese Garden, and to explore connections between two global cities whose residents are reinventing urban life for the 21st century. If you know anyone in Portland, please let them know about these events! Thank you.