Zelkova

Omotesando’s zelkova trees add style with full fall foliage

omotesando_fall_leaves_shoppers
表参道のケヤキはグローバルブランドの店を引き立てています。この背の高いケヤキはいつもきれいです。特に秋は、魔法を感じます。

Called keyaki in Japanese, these elegant trees give distinction to Tokyo’s global brand shopping street. These trees are gorgeous year-round, but especially in fall.

Full fall folliage on Omotesando

表参道で、ケヤキの紅葉が金色にきらきらしています。今年は紅葉がちょっと遅いです。最近、気温が下がって、今がピークです。もうすぐ終わります。今週、ケヤキやモモジやイチョウの紅葉を見てください。

On a recent wet night, Omotesando’s Zelkova leaves cast a golden glow on the sidewalk. It seems that fall leaves are late this year in Tokyo, but with a sudden drop in temperature the trees are now putting on a show. Like cherry blossom viewing, it’s an ephemeral sight. Check on the street trees this week!

Thousand year old tree damaged in last week’s typhoon

先週の台風のせいで、この千年ケヤキが破損していました。この木は近所で一番古い木だから、とても悲しくなりました。木が生き残ることを願っています。

The oldest tree in my neighborhood, which a sign claims is a thousand year old zelkova, was damaged in last week’s typhoon. I often pass by it, and recently posted about the beautiful wood support recently installed. Unfortunately, the part that fell was the larger main branch that was also previously damaged and repaired. I hope the tree can pull through this major damage.

Giant wood support for landmark tree

最近、古いケヤキを支える木造の補助 ができました。下を歩くと、近所の方も、この補助と木を見ているのに気がつきました。2つの役割 があります。木を守るだけでなく、近所の方がこの木は特別だと気がつきます。多分、この木はこの近所で一番古い木です。木造の補助は神社の鳥居みたいです。

Recently, I’ve noticed this enormous new wood support for the giant zelkova tree in front of my local elementary school.  I’ve noticed other neighbors stopping to admire the giant support and the tree.

I like how the elegant support structure protects the tree and also draws attention to its significance. This traditional style Japanese garden technique also evokes the gates outside Shinto shrines.

I’ve blogged about this landmark tree before in April and also last year. One sign says that it’s 1,000 years old. While I doubt that, it’s still a remarkable tree, and probably the oldest living being in the neighborhood.

New leaves welcome new school year

東京の小学校で、ケヤキの若葉が新しい学期を祝っています。

The new leaves on this old zelkovia welcome a new school year at the elementary school in Nakano. In Japan, the school year, new hires, and the new fiscal year all start on April 1. Most schools have a cherry tree which is often in full bloom at school start. The zelkova leaf out in the following weeks. More subtle than cherry blossoms, new leaves are a lovely spring sight.

I’ve taken photos of the same tree in late winter last year.

Zelkova are leafing out on Omotesando

表参道のケヤキの若葉が出てきています。

Zelkova, called keyaki in Japanese (ケヤキ), are a gorgeous Tokyo street tree. The best boulevards of mature zelkova are in Asagaya and Omotesando. Here you can see the branches are just leafing out. In the back of the detail image is Itoh Toyo’s sculptural building for Tods that appears to be built of zelkova branches rather than steel.

I have been working most of March and early April in Nishi Azabu Juban, and I often bike to the office. Biking in Tokyo is fun for discovering back streets, but its also fun to speed along a straight boulevard, especially one with such a magnificent canopy. These photos were taken near my new favorite retro van turned into mobile espresso shop, Motoya Express.

Ginkos are leafing out

From one week to the next, ginko trees go from bare to green. This incredible transformation is another sign of spring.

I kept expecting these trees to leaf out earlier, but they wait until mid-April. Ginkos and zelkova are common trees on Tokyo’s large boulevards. Their repetition adds a certain grandeur to the streetscape.

One thousand year old zelkova tree

At the entrance to a public elementary school near our apartment is an enormous tree that I frequently pass by. On the other side of the entrance is a beautiful cherry tree. I didn’t pay any attention to the larger tree until the husband remarked that it sports a sign declaring it a “thousand year old zelkova” (in Japanese, it’s keyaki, けやき).

I went back, examined the tree more carefully, and took some photos. Does anyone know if this one thousand year designation is literal or figurative? It seems incredible, especially when compared with what I thought was an ancient ginko tree at Kishbojin Temple in Zoushigaya, reportedly 600 years old.

Looking carefully at this zelkova tree, I can see that there are huge fissures in the trunk and the tree has been pruned radically, including all the main branches and even the base close to the ground. I would like to think that this tree is a local treasure, and that someone is taking good care of it. Its age gives it character, and its canopy is still very impressive.

Kishibojin Temple in Zoushigaya (part 6)

The end of Eri’s walking tour was the magnificent Kishibojin temple. The buildings are old, pre-dating the war and probably the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake, but most remarkable is a 30 meter high ginko tree with an 8 meter circumference said to be 600 years old. You can see it above surrounded on three sides by red gates.

Eri knows a lot about folklore, and explained that Kishibojin is a female diety who was originally a cannibalistic demon who repented and became a protector of children and women. She is known as Hariti in Sanskrit. In Japanese, the kanji for Kishibojin is a modified version of the character for “demon” (oni) missing a dot that symbolizes the horns that she lost during her conversion.

A famous street lined with Zelkova trees leads up to the temple.

Fall ikebana at Meiji Jingu

Fall ikebana at Meiji Jingu

Meiji Jingu last weekend had a fall ikebana display. This was my favorite combination of fall foliage and bright contrasting flower, with an understated ceramic vase.

It was fun to see the extremely stylized ikebana in the forest of Meiji Jingu, next to the shrine with its enormous trees and the endless procession of Sunday weddings shielded by giant red umbrellas and thronged with photo-snapping tourists. The ikebana display was a mostly ignored moment of quiet dignity amidst the clash of tradition and modernity, upper class families and international tourists, sacred, stylized and natural.

Fall has been wonderfully mild, with the zelkova (keyaki in Japanese) trees starting to turn yellow. Of the many ginkos (icho), I have seen just one already turned yellow.

Omotesando moss

Omotesando moss on kayaki

Omotesando is known for its parade of imported brands: Dior, Chanel, Ralph Lauren, etc. It also has an amazing canopy of zelkova trees (called keyaki or 欅 in Japanese). This photo taken on a rainy day earlier this week shows the trees covered in moss. Looking up from the busy sidewalk, you see many shades of green, bold patterns, and soaring structure that are oblivious to fashion and commerce.

Asagaya Zelkova Tunnel

Asagaya Zelkovia Tunnel

Perhaps the most beautiful street in western Tokyo is this Zelkovia (keyaki or 欅)tree tunnel on Nakasugi Douri in Asagaya. This photo was taken near the Minami Asagaya station of the Marunouchi line and the Suginami Ward Assembly Hall, looking towards the JR Asagaya station.

While this blog celebrates the anarchy of ordinary gardeners and the visionary horticultural initiatives, sometimes nothing can compare to government planting of street trees, and their maintenance over many decades. This Zelkovia tunnel always astonishes me.