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Tokyo DIY Gardening Hands-on gardening for a crowded city

Memorial Asagao




Quick notes from memory-infused morning glories

Mr. Kushimoto in Shibuya gives us an early morning lesson in memory-infused gardening (see Personal Impact of Urban Green Space) en-route to breakfast at Knee High Media Japan.

His very ordinary plot of asagao (Morning Glory) links him to his Noh teacher who received the seeds as a gift but had no space to grow them in his tiny apartment and passed them on to Kushimoto. This Noh teacher lives next-door, in an apartment building that was once part of the Kushimoto family estate (now broken up into quarters, and soon to be fragmented further – see e.g. Schematic of scattered land ownership over time in a typical Japanese village).

Mr. Kushimoto used to have a garden that spanned the front of his home, but when his brother turned his inheritance into an income-producing parking lot dirt became scarce – the compromise being the deep concrete planter leading up to the entrance to Kushimoto’s property. This planter proved a more productive spot than the shallow and junky infill soil of the original plot (see last photo).

Now, Mr. Kushimoto lives on the 1st floor of his two-storey house (son and family on 2nd floor) and limits his gardening to decorative asagao, irises and roses – he informs us he has no need for home-grown vegetables because he never learned to cook and his wife passed away a couple of years ago (her name is, however, forever etched on the mailbox plate).

The asagao blooms in the morning, withers by afternoon and goes to seed soon after (a process very lovingly described by Kushimoto) (see second to last photo). I love the mix of intergenerational property metamorphosis, spousal memorial, ongoing teacher-student friendship and loyalty, long-term attention to soil quality and daily change brought out in this simple early morning encounter.

Morning Glory Related:
> Maniac asagao blogger


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