water

Wide canal packed with with boats, bridges, elevated highways, and a trace of pre-industrial Edo

shibaura_ichome_canal_showa_cluster

この運河の景色は素敵ですね。戦後の建築の歴史が見えます。幅が広い運河は産業革命前の江戸時代を呼び起こします。自然な感じがします。都市は有機体だと思い出させてくれます。大きい都市はいつも少しずつが変わっていきます。芝浦一丁目で。

I love this canal view, the layers of visible history in buildings, and the wide water that evokes pre-industrial Edo life. Even the regrettable additions, like the elevated freeways, show how Tokyo constantly evolves not through great design but by continual addition to what was already there.

There is so much transportation infrastructure on this wide canal in Shibaura Ichome. I also love how the small post-war house at the corner has been built up over the years with additions, and then surrounded by a taller modernist office and more recent, larger buildings that are more about function than form. There’s something very calming about seeing this large expanse of water, and a view of how Tokyo became layered with new structures over time.

A hazy day at the beach in Enoshima

enoshima_beach

夏のビーチパーティーに参加するために、江ノ島に行きました。

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

This “value net” can be used on land and in creeks to capture insects and small creatures

value_net_kabutomushi_crayfish_atami

アメリカの子供たちはあまり虫とかをネットでつかまえません。このネットは、小川でも森でも使えます。たったの380円。楽しそうです。

Japanese kids love to use nets to capture small wildlife. This net can be used to capture kabuto mushi beetles on land, and also crayfish in creeks.

Outer moat viewed from the Ichigaya JR station platform

blacksuit_JRplatform_ichiga
市ヶ谷ホームから、素敵な外濠が見えます。

In a city with surprisingly few water views, this JR station at Ichigaya looks out onto the Outer Moat (Soto Bori). It’s a beautiful site from the station platform, a wide river and natural bank lined with cherry trees.

See Tokyo by water, including Japanese garden, funny boat, & historic Asakusa

With A Small Lab‘s Chris Berthelsen, I’ll be leading an afternoon tour tomorrow of Tokyo Bay and the Sumida river for Still City, an exciting workshop hosted at Shibaura House with international participants interested in urban design.

Anyone is free to join us tomorrow, or to use the itinerary on your own at any time. I like the layers of history visible when viewing Tokyo as a once great waterway, and the current reverberations of last century’s apocalyptic earthquakes, war bombing, surrender, and reinvention. The centuries old Japanese garden uses salt water from the bay for its ponds, there will be early fall folliage, and we will ride Himiko, the crazy boat in the photo above.

Still City is a Dutch-Japanese workshop looking at opportunities suggested by viewing Tokyo as emblematic of post-growth urban life. It’s supported by the Japan Foundation and the Kingdom of the Netherlands, along with its local embassy.

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Still City Tokyo Program: Tour (30 Oct. 2012) — Tokyo by Water with Jared Braiterman of Tokyo Green Space and Chris Berthelsen of A Small Lab

Overview: We’ll visit a traditional Japanese garden near Shibaura House, recall Tokyo’s river heritage on a water bus up the Sumida River, and explore Asakusa, one of Tokyo’s oldest neighborhoods. A frugal afternoon exploring a few still spaces in this churning megalopolis. Spontaneous picnicking, beers from final-generation liquor stores, and foraged city food are all possible.

1. Enjoy a traditional Japanese garden: Meet at Hamarikyu Garden at 1.00 pm (Nakanogomon Gate entrance)
Hamarikyu Garden is an Edo-style garden situated between the glass high-rises of Shiodome and Tokyo Bay. A traditional Japanese garden dating back hundreds of years, this spot by the bay played a critical role in the negotiations between US General McArthur and Emperor Hirohito in settling the war and the fate of the imperial family. Perhaps they partook in duck hunting together, a ruling class pastime marked with a religious shrine.
Where: Hamarikyu Garden is a short walk from Hamamatsuchou, Shimbashi, and Shiodome stations, about 2 km from Shibaura House. You can easily walk from Shibaura House, or take the Yamanote line or the Yurikamome monorail.
Cost: 300 yen admission

2.  Boat up the Sumida River to Asakusa: Meet at Hinode Pier’s Waterbus Station at 2.45 pm
The water bus from Hinode Pier to Asakusa takes about 40 minutes. Going upstream on the wide Sumida River, you can experience Tokyo’s river heritage, and see a good part of eastern Tokyo, including the new Sky Tree. For those new to Tokyo and even for those who live here, viewing Tokyo by boat is a rare and fun event.
Where: Hinode Pier is half way between Hamarikyu Garden and Shibaura House. There’s also a Yurikamome monorail station there.
Cost: 720 yen. Boat leaves at 2.55 pm.

3. Explore old Tokyo at Asakusa: Arrive by water bus at 3.30 pm
Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s oldest neighborhoods. It has been less gentrified in the post-war years, and retains an old Tokyo feeling. We’ll check out a shrine, a market, and some back street gardening. Time permitting, we’ll stop at a neighborhood bathhouse to relax after the tour. Feel free to return at any time.

Return to Shibaura House: Take the Toei Subway Asakusa Line to Mita station, then walk. 18 min on express train, 210 yen.

At Imperial Palace, few landscape elements create grand exterior

いつも自分の庭に新しい植物をもってきます。皇居の近くで、数は少ないけれど大きな規模に感動しました。松と水と石は本当に素敵です。

As a gardener, I am a maximalist with my own small space. Approaching the Imperial Palace from the Marunouchi business district, I am struck by the grandeur of using few elements at an enormous scale. Pine, water, and stone.

Summer makes me want to jump in cold river

蒸し暑い天気のときに一番涼しいところは、冷たい川の中です。@a_small_lab と @jessmantell と御嶽に行きました。東京にあんな自然がまだあります。実がついたバナナを見て、驚きました。

In summer’s heat and humidity, the best place to be is in a cold river. Recently I met up with @a_small_lab and @jessmantell at the Tama river up in the foothills of western Tokyo. At Mitake, you can feel that you are in the mountains while being still in the city. It’s about an hour and a half by train from central Tokyo, and the water is cold!

I was very surprised to see bananas growing by the river. The fruit is now forming.

What happens after the stations are sealed from the floods?

この東京メトロのポスターとアニメを見ましたか。大きい洪水の場合に、駅を密封します。けれども、出られそうにないです。この後でどうしたらいいのでしょう。イラストもアニメかわいいですが、状況はこわいです。

There are posters in the Metro explaining how prepared they are for floods. There’s an even creepier animation of people moving through Tokyo streets and subway passages, while agents shut the station entrance, air vents are closed, and the tunnels themselves have giant walls to prevent the floods from surging into the station.

I think we’re supposed to feel that the Metro is ready for emergency. Instead, I wonder what type of global warming could cause all that water in the stations. And once we’re all safely sealed inside the stations, then what? Eventually the convenience stores and vending machines will run out! Not to mention the closed air vents.

Small and multifunctional space makes gardening fun

このベランダは小さいのに、多機能です。庭に加えて、洗濯機も物干用のロープもエアコンもあります。普通の東京ベランダです。

Our Tokyo balcony, like everyone’s, is a multi-purpose space: washing machine, clothes line, air conditioner. I like the constraint of gardening in a small space. There’s room for one tiny kid’s chair, and the blue bucket and ladle are what I use to water the garden.

Just before summer starts, river in Nakameguro is magical

夏がはじまる前の、今の東京の季節が大好きです。桜で有名な中目黒の川です。もう水に足を入れたい気分です。

Just before summer starts is one of my favorite seasons in Tokyo. This is the river in Nakameguro famous for its cherry trees. I already want to put my feet in the water.

Seed bomb recipe for kids workshop at Shibaura House

.@ShibauraHouse の子供たちのワークショップのために、この種爆弾のレシピを書きました。五種類の種を使いました。人と動物の食べられる植物を選んで、背の高い花は見えやすいので選びました。子供が粘土と土と種を混ぜて、汚れるときが楽しかったようです。

This is the handout I made for the Shibaura House seed bomb workshop for kids. The recipe is 5 parts powdered clay, 2 parts soil, 1 part seed, and 1 part water. Thinking about the season, late spring, just before rainy season, I chose clover, soba, sunflower, hollyhocks, and watermelon.

The seed selection also responded to the theme of “eating and seeing green.” I wanted to provide food for animals as well as people, as well as flowers that are tall and easy to see. The soba and clover seeds are the least expensive and served as the seed “base.”

Corrected: Below are photos from the event, taken by Naomi Muto and written up by Shirakuma Ikuko in Japanese. It’s funny that my instructions were to make balls (dango), but the kids enjoyed making shapes like stars, bows, donuts, Jupiter, and even a black hole.

In the afternoon, the adults who attended the kick-off talk event also participated in vegetable planting on the 4th floor. Shibaura House is tweeting the growth of their new garden!

Getting close to the water in Shibaura. With mysterious tiny canal that pre-dates recent developments.

三度目に芝浦に行ったとき、きれいな水に近づける運河を見つけました。道路と水の間を歩けます。地下に、小さな古い運河の出口も見つけました。

On my third trip to Shibaura, I discovered that there is one canal that provides wonderful, up-close access to water. It’s the first canal when entering from the JR Yamanote station. There’s even paths below the bridges and just above the water. On a drizzly afternoon, it was magical to be below the roadway.

Most of Tokyo’s rivers are buried, and the few remaining ones, including much of the Kanda and Zenpukuji rivers, are channeled 10 meters below street level to manage flooding. Sometimes I hear ducks echoing in these canyons, but the distance between people and water is a missed opportunity.

At the Shibaura canal, I found a tiny canal opening that seems to do pre-date the more recent developments. I like the old stones at the entrance. All that’s missing from this canal is space to get your feet wet, or even go in for a swim.

Messy canal edge with limited access, decay, and garbage

芝浦の運河の端に潜り込みました。公共の入口がないので、廃墟とごみが多いです。

We snuck behind some buildings to gain furtive access to the canal. It’s too bad that Shibaura’s many canals cannot be easily accessed. Once by the water, we saw decayed structures and ample garbage.

Spectacular maple tree grows in street with no visible soil

昨日の階段の紅葉の写真は、このモミジから来ました。土がほとんどないのに、きれいになりました。本当に東京は植物に良い場所です。なんでも育ちます。

This is the maple tree that shed the leaves on yesterday’s photo of the tiled steps. I am amazed that this tree survives despite the fact that the roots and the pavement join with no gap. Where does it find water, or nourishment? Tokyo really is a great place for growing, and its resilient plants show how much is possible.