In Yotsuya, the Marunouchi subway pops out of ground in central Tokyo. From the platform, there is this amazing view that includes a still functioning, although rarely used service road, an abandoned bus stop and plaza gradually returning to the wild, and a border of exuberant independent plants. There is something beautiful to glimpse this inefficient use of space and so much lush greenery in the midst of a dense city.
Do you know this flowering shrub? It’s a super charming plant that you see all over Tokyo in spring called yuki yanagi, or snow willow (雪柳). In Latin it’s Spiraea thunbergii, native to Japan and China. I like how hardy it is, and its elegantly weeping shape. The photo above was from the same busy street in Yotsuya where I saw the dandelion last week. Here’s the context image.
I have a soft spot for weeds, and this dandelion I saw found a home in a sidewalk crack in busy Yotsuya. I admire the ability of weeds to place themselves, to exist and spread despite our best attempts at organizing our environment. The dandelion is exceptional because it is at once a food, a medicine, and an important early source of nectar for honeybees. Cities need more dandelions!