(now and again)

Tokyo DIY Gardening Hands-on gardening for a crowded city

Author Archive
Tree Breaks out of Pot and into Soil
Tree Breaks out of Pot and into Soil

I wish that governments and residents would begin to de-pave Tokyo, and it’s great to see that domestic plants are not waiting for us to act.

Higashi Nakano Stroll
Higashi Nakano Stroll

A rambling walk through an inner-city country town.

Pansies in a Sidewalk Crack
Pansies in a Sidewalk Crack

In the world’s largest mega-city, even a crack in the sidewalk can be a place to grow a flower.

Flowers & Plants in Metro Men’s Rooms
Flowers & Plants in Metro Men's Rooms

Low-cost greenery to improve pedestrian spaces.

Riverbank Community Garden in Tsukishima
Riverbank Community Garden in Tsukishima

A great use of dead space, allowing people in a crowded neighborhood to have outdoor plants.

Harajuku Flower Pot Wall more Grandma than Hipster
Harajuku Flower Pot Wall more Grandma than Hipster

That’s a lot of flowers for one tiny space.

Why are some neighborhood parks so sad?
Why are some neighborhood parks so sad?

Many of Tokyo’s res­id­en­tial neigh­bor­hood parks are poorly main­tained and under-used……

Morning glory green curtain
Morning glory green curtain

All the apartments have nets, perhaps to deter birds, yet few are so well used.

Blue salvia, wood house, and bicycle
Blue salvia, wood house, and bicycle

Casual, unplanned, resilient.

Second Floor Garden
Second Floor Garden

I love the variety of plants, and the way the garden adds onto what is already there.

Tsukishima Green Alleys & Construction
Tsukishima Green Alleys & Construction

Old and new, green alleys and wide boulevards, wood houses and new construction.

Shinjuku Grass
Shinjuku Grass

A perfect complement to hyper-real neon surroundings appears with no human planning

Koenji Sidewalk Garden
Koenji Sidewalk Garden

Variety of plants and impeccable maintenance

Goya Awning
Goya Awning

Shade, food, community.

Mini Farm on Concrete Pad
Mini Farm on Concrete Pad

Recycled and simple materials, like plastic sacks as container pots

Sidewalk Grapes
Sidewalk Grapes

Edible adaption and adoption.

Traffic Cone Planter
Traffic Cone Planter

Space efficient roadside planter fix.

Summer is Loquat Season in Tokyo
Summer is Loquat Season in Tokyo

It’s great to see such huge trees full of orange fruit and accessible from the street.

Two Plants Cover Home
Two Plants Cover Home

Ample plant growth in the most minimal of urban spaces

School children give pansies to Metro station
School children give pansies to Metro station

How cool that the students are offering the station something alive.

The Butterfly in the Metro
The Butterfly in the Metro

What makes a city desirable?

Giant sidewalk sunflowers in full bloom
Giant sidewalk sunflowers in full bloom

in full bloom and towering over the pedestrians

Small green wall improves sidewalk
Small green wall improves sidewalk

the wall uses minimal space to provide a green corridor

A tree of death outside Family Mart
A tree of death outside Family Mart

a tree of death, made of dozens of cigarette cartons and festooned with Christmas lights

PLANTS AND BUILDINGS IN TOKYO
PLANTS AND BUILDINGS IN TOKYO

A photographic essay looking at flowers and trees in a dense city.

Wildness in Nishi Azabu Juban
Wildness in Nishi Azabu Juban

There is something comforting to feel wildness in the center of the city

S-Hooks are Tokyo’s super glue
S-Hooks are Tokyo’s super glue

this hanging pot relies on an S-hook to attach itself to the existing built environment

Let’s cover Tokyo in winter lavendar
Let's cover Tokyo in winter lavendar

Covering a Tokyo building with lavender plants, or creating small lavender city farms . . .

No space for fruit tree? Check this out!
No space for fruit tree? Check this out!

So many city dwellers think they have no space to grow anything. Recently I posted photos of a persimmon tree near my apartment that is three stories tall and full of fruit. I went back to take a shot of its trunk. Actually, it turns out that there are two trees growing in a space […]

Intoxicating night scent of Angel’s Trumpet
Intoxicating night scent of Angel’s Trumpet

hardy and decorative, with a shamanistic function in its native Amazon habitat

“Do You Really Like Living Here?” A Foreigner’s Perspective on Tokyo
“Do You Really Like Living Here?” A Foreigner’s Perspective on Tokyo

I cannot discern if this question expresses national modesty, a sense of inferiority, or ignorance

それでも外国人が東京暮らしを愛する理由
それでも外国人が東京暮らしを愛する理由

「本当に東京の暮らしが好きなんですか?」としょっちゅう聞かれる。

Potted plant in bicycle basket
Potted plant in bicycle basket

Did the bicycle owner leave the potted plant in the basket, or did a stranger deposit it there?

Japanese anemone signal fall
Japanese anemone signal fall

naming confusion is quite common with flower and plants

Fall perennial border in pots on curbside
Fall perennial border in pots on curbside

despite the lack of ground soil and space . . I admire the gardener’s generosity to passing pedestrians and bicyclists

Orange tree by the Kanda River
Orange tree by the Kanda River

. . . the Kanda River viewed from Nakano Fujimichio, with an orange tree in the foreground and the skyscrapers of Nishi Shinjuku in the background

Guest photo from Hiyoko Imai
Guest photo from Hiyoko Imai

Much of the daily fabric of urban life, instead, feels like this photo: a bunch of stuff bolted on to other stuff

Beloperone guttata or little shrimp plant (コエビソウ) growing between 2 walls
Beloperone guttata or little shrimp plant (コエビソウ) growing between 2 walls

Tokyo’s ample rainfall allows plants to thrive in the most unlikely places.

Fall fruit growing in Tokyo’s back streets
Fall fruit growing in Tokyo’s back streets

Recently, I have noticed oranges, persimmons, and even pomegranate growing in my neighbors’ tiny gardens and balconies

Spider lilies are everywhere in Tokyo during fall
Spider lilies are everywhere in Tokyo during fall

They are extremely hardy, and pop up everywhere in the fall on green stalks with no leaves.

Small green curtain at factory car shop
Small green curtain at factory car shop

It’s great to see people make use of work time and space for some vegetable gardening.

Bonsais displayed on sidewalk and street
Bonsais displayed on sidewalk and street

this collection of bonsais sits on recycled containers

Have you smelled kinmokusei?
Have you smelled kinmokusei?

One amazing fall flower is the very fragrant kinmokusei

Expressways divide neighborhoods and repel people
Expressways divide neighborhoods and repel people

These massive structures are the opposite of the small lanes that make Tokyo feel so village-like and livable.

Wildness beside a busy subway platform
Wildness beside a busy subway platform

There is something beautiful to glimpse this inefficient use of space and so much lush greenery in the midst of a dense city

Have you smelled kinmokusei?
Have you smelled kinmokusei?

an amazing fall flower is the very fragrant kinmokusei (キンモクセイ)

Hanging plant decorates fence in front of empty lot
Hanging plant decorates fence in front of empty lot

My guess is that both of these plant interventions. . . were created by neighbors getting tired of seeing the empty lot and its weeds

Anyone know the name of this flowering weed?
Anyone know the name of this flowering weed?

I wasn’t sure if it was an intentional plant

Okra is a popular alley plant
Okra is a popular alley plant

What’s growing in your neighborhood?

Neighborhood sunflowers
Neighborhood sunflowers

I love how these sunflowers are growing at the intersection of two small streets, and how the round flowers echo the larger, convex street mirror. The flowers grow in a tiny scrap of soil just outside the wall around a residence. After preparing the image, I realized that I took a similar photo last year. […]

Elegant Nezu Museum garden
Elegant Nezu Museum garden

enchanted by how the light struck this worn boat, the plants growing in its bow, and the illusion of . . .

Azabu Juban’s Kakuremino bar defined by street tree
Azabu Juban’s Kakuremino bar defined by street tree

this narrow Nishi Azabu Juban bar is defined by the curbside street tree

Lush sidewalk garden in Nishi Azabu Juban
Lush sidewalk garden in Nishi Azabu Juban

Most people would think there’s no room for a garden

Japan’s Seven Fall Flowers
Japan’s Seven Fall Flowers

Japan has a famous set of seven fall flowers

Baby bitter melon in September typhoon
Baby bitter melon in September typhoon

A baby bitter melon in the rain, with its flower still attached

Elaborate sidewalk garden with plant labels
Elaborate sidewalk garden with plant labels

Nearly all of the pots rests on stools or low tables

Mobile Bonsai Shop on Omotesando
Mobile Bonsai Shop on Omotesando

This plant sales person has staked out valuable real estate

Early fall color despite heat still on full blast
Early fall color despite heat still on full blast

This sign of fall seems a cruel joke.

Giant hedge frames modern house in Nakano
Giant hedge frames modern house in Nakano

Sometimes just 2 hedges = beautiful garden

Beautiful water plants in bowl outside Shizen
Beautiful water plants in bowl outside Shizen

A simple bowl with plants can really add visual impact to a central city sidewalk.

Shinjuku Ward Office greening
Shinjuku Ward Office greening

sidewalk awning with minimal space and maintenance, impacts thousands coming to ward office

Balcony garden update
Balcony garden update

It’s amazing what you can fit in a sunny narrow space.

Semi-wild, semi-cultivated space in Yoyogi
Semi-wild, semi-cultivated space in Yoyogi

in between two train tracks, an elevated overpass, and a convenience store . . .

Small building in Shinjuku covered in vines
Small building in Shinjuku covered in vines

This small building in a Shinjuku commercial district is buried in vines

Dense and mature sidewalk garden in Chiyoda
Dense and mature sidewalk garden in Chiyoda

The planting is amazingly thick, creating a green wall between the sidewalk and the large boulevard. . .

More balcony-grown baby watermelon
More balcony-grown baby watermelon

I am surprised at the success of this vertical, balcony watermelon

Sidewalk bitter melons in plastic buckets & twine
Sidewalk bitter melons in plastic buckets & twine

Bitter melon growing in plastic buckets with an elaborate plastic twine trellis supported by a tree branch

Small ledge for green curtain & laundry
Small ledge for green curtain & laundry

Another great example of multi-function outdoor spaces that are incredibly small

Summer-time morning glory
Summer-time morning glory

As their name implies, the flowers are most spectacular in the morning.

Growing eggplant and cucumber on high-rise balcony
Growing eggplant and cucumber on high-rise balcony

Cucumbers grow incredibly fast

Neighbor’s okra in pot atop wall
Neighbor's okra in pot atop wall

I wonder how the neighbor cooked them.

Growing rice in buckets at Waseda university
Growing rice in buckets at Waseda university

I am sure that tending rice in the city makes residents appreciate eating rice even more

Bitter melon green curtain growing on curbside
Bitter melon green curtain growing on curbside

It covers the window, and dwarfs in size the adjacent vending machine

Cherry tomatoes and laundry
Cherry tomatoes and laundry

Ripe cherry tomatoes growing safely on the sidewalk, within arms reach of the laundry hanging to dry

Eating balcony-grown watermelon
Eating balcony-grown watermelon

I kept hoping that they would get a bit bigger, but finally I decided to harvest them.

Ivy trained into an X-shape topiary
Ivy trained into an X-shape topiary

This local person must enjoy plants and the opportunity to make something artful in a small space.

Elementary School Morning Glory
Elementary School Morning Glory

The flowers vary in color, and the students track the progress in notebooks. Looks like fun.

Balcony overflows with bougainvillea and other plants
Balcony overflows with bougainvillea and other plants

This corner balcony must have 40 or even 100 plants. I wonder what it looks like from inside the apartment.

Watermelon on my Balcony
Watermelon on my Balcony

My watermelon plant has produced an enormous amount of growth in just two months on the balcony…….

Summer Blackberries in Tokyo
Summer Blackberries in Tokyo

All the classic elements: use of public space in unexpected way, display of citizens’ care and skills, recycling of simple materials…..

Rose-covered homeware shop in Nishi Ogikubo
Rose-covered homeware shop in Nishi Ogikubo

Flowers as exuberant storefront!

Zoushigaya Winter Citrus Trees
Zoushigaya Winter Citrus Trees

Renegade citrus in Zoushigaya.

Zoushigaya Micro-Garden Series #1
Zoushigaya Micro-Garden Series #1

Old Tokyo neighborhoods like Zoushigaya are full of plant lovers who manage to create gardens where there is almost no space…..

A Single Manicured Tree
A Single Manicured Tree

I like the generosity of the owner who shares this tree equally with passers-by and the residence’s inhabitants and guests.

Beautiful Magnolia in a Tight Spot
Beautiful Magnolia in a Tight Spot

Even the smallest horizontal space can support a substantial tree, with seasonal color and scent.

Fresh Flowers in Freeway Service Station
Fresh Flowers in Freeway Service Station

I love the care that someone is taking in a space that others are just passing through…..

Coco Husk Soil
Coco Husk Soil

For urban gardeners, one key question is how to get plants, soil and pot from store to house…….