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Gardening for Strangers (Jared Braiterman): Spending several weeks Tokyo on a business trip in 2008, I was startled and enchanted to discover its human scale and its streets alive with people and plants.

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like many foreigners, I assumed Tokyo would be all cold high-rises, crowded Shibuya scrambles, and flashing neon advertising. In short, imagined the world's largest metropolis entirely removed from the natural world.

I brought to Tokyo a lifelong interest in gardening. What surprises me still are Tokyo residents' ingenuity and passion for cultivating plants and community in a crowded, over-built city. On leaving a beginner's ceramics class in a humble Tokyo neighborhood one day, I came across four perfect pansies growing in the crack of a narrow sidewalk.

This image of Tokvo as a gardeners' city motivated me to relocate from San Francisco to research and write about Tokyo Green Space. Placing my research in the context of design anthropology and urban ecology, I was extremely fortunate to receive generous support in 2009 from Hitachi, which is committed to a Japanese approach to environmental protection and to cultural diplomacy.

The sidewalk pansies show th at Tokyo is organized differently than United States and European cities, and that many of these differences are nearly invisible to Japanese people. I formul.ated several guiding questions. Why do Tokyo residents care so deeplv about their surroundings? What role can nature play in dense urban environments? What can other cities learn from Tokyo's urban gardening culture?

I began collecting images of gardens visible from streets and sidewalks. Surprises included a valuable bonsai collection growing on a private r e s ldence's cinder block wall; rice maturing in styrofoam containers; a single, exquisite mini-watermelon supported by a wooden stand in a Ginza backstreet. Sadly, in San Francisco and most developed world cities, these potted plants would be quickly stolen or vandalized. Meanwhile few Tokyo residents connect the respect shown to public plants with their unequaled personal safety in streets and transit.

Rushing into a men's room in the Tokyo Metro, I glimpsed ivy growing in a two-liter plastic bottle lying on its side .. In the twenty-first century. United States cities permanently closed their subway restroomsfor "public safety." Here in Tokyo I could calmly imagine the anonymous person who beautified an underground utility with a living organism and minimal resources .. Did he return regularly to change the water? What inspired his passion for plants and his kindness to strangers?

Across the four seasons, I observed Tokyo residents celebrating nature together in public places. For hanami (cherry blossom viewing), it is common to see people sleeping overnight in parks and along rivers to reserve spaces for blue sheets and the next day's outdoor party for family, co-workers, or friends, The pink cherry blossoms transform the entire city as boisterous crowds share drinks and food. In fall, many thousands view ginko trees turning bright yellow in Aoyama, and special evening "light up" displays of red maple trees in traditional Japanese public gardens.

Ancient Shinto omatsuri (street festivals) in summer and fall replace aut 0 t r a ff i c wit h pub lie r i t u a Is, m u sic, cos tum e,f 0 0 d , and m 0 red r ink i n g . These events connect city neighbors with each other and with Japan's rice farming past and present. And for the new year, the doors to homes and business are decorated with shimekazari and kadomatsu-made of rice, bamboo, pine, straw, berries, and paper-that unite living rituals, craft, and nature in the city.

Daily life in Tokyo is remarkable for its small streets where pedestrians and bicyclists have priority over cars. Only recently, a few United States cities are promoting these single-level streets, which do not segregate pedestrians to the edges, as a novel experiment for "livable streets." In Tokyo they are the common streetscape for countless unnamed streets that fan out in webs between train stations and large boulevards.

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In todav's sweltering heat, mv To kv o DIY Gardening co-instigator Chris Berthelsen and 3331 Arts Chiv o de=s Emma Ota documented the giant green city map created in the art center workshop two weeks 1 ago. _ , It's alwavs inspiring to work with Chris, who is full of creative ideas and the energy to realize them. He's e lr ee dv shared one small portion of the presentation: a model of the personal impact of urban reen space. The map itself is A4 papers taped child, musicians, arc ec, ar s a people who were two meters bV four together. The thirty ceramicists, textile mrrastrator, s eruor walking by. meters, and made of standard participants included a school buyer, real estate developer, citizens, an -"--------.......

Thev used a mix of images we provided, plus blue string, markers, pens and things they brought, to create collages of urban green spaces that they knew or wanted. TheV also wrote down e.!..£J.ect ideas on small forms embedded in the map.

Walking from my apartment to nearby train stations, streetscape encourages proximity with many small gardeners. Because most homes are built directly to gardens spill out into small streets or climb verticall.y On any given day, I encounter at least one neighbor pruning, or sweeping. Even a few words of Japanese a conversation with neighbors eager to share stories plants.

Tokyo's distinctive gardens and their the property line, against the walls. planting, weeding, are enough to start and their love of

Getting to know my neighbors though their gardens has made my urban life more like a friendly village than an impersonal metropolis. Hearing itterashai (have a good day) on my departure and okari nasai (welcome home) on my return, it feels like the physical. and social boundaries of my small apartment have extended outward into the city. In return, I thank my neighbors for taking such good care of their gardens and our shared urban space.

I You can plunge from a birds-eye view of Tokyo to street level for a ~ _'stroll through....l!.__t.u_!2nel of blooming cherries aiong_ the Tamagawa "... 1 lou s o ui (existing), or to explore a fantastic flower garaerithat soft-ens the hard concrete edges of Shibuya (not real). They can also
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A collaborative creation, the Tokyo DIY hope, reality, and little bit of imagination spaces - from roof gardens to community in pots - alive in surprising ways. Even where the map was born - a lively affair scissors, tape,_markers, and e xub e rerit real as well as hoped for places is now

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Gardening Map combines to bring the city's green gardens to farms to plants if you missed the workshop bubbling over with glue, participants - a view of both available.

organizers, Chris Berthelsen of a-small-lab and jared Braiterman of Tokyo Green Space, are avid urban observers in their own rite. Berthelsen "investigates alterations of space/objects at the public/private boundary in suburban Tokyo", whi.le Braiterman explores the ways Tokyo-ites "support bio-diversity, the environment, and human community" all at once. Tot yo DIY G.ardeniQg seemed a natural result. The "Our Tokyo DIY Gardening project is about people having fun with nature in the city. Too many people think you need to be an expert to' grow plant'S: We want to 5"hO'iN"tha't growing plants for -food and decoration is easy, and that there are many ways to create space forgardens in even the densest and most crowded city. There's also something social and even magical about improving our always imI perfect public spaces," wrote Berthelsen in an email interview.

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admire the perseverance required to farm near Narita Airport (real), or visit one of two vantage points - Disneyland in the Southeast and Tachikawa in the Northwest - for long views back to the center. De~ tailed images accompanied ~y short sU'!2_m~c!e. s with useful links e~ ~ courage visi(prs tQ.....!lQ.t only ~nd!!.! the__!!)ag.._but perraps no.1.J".\.e new details in their own corner of the cityscape. tII'i..

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What accounts for Tokyo residents' distinctive love of gardening and nature? The Ota Museum's Edo Gardening Flowers exhibit last fall recalled how the earliest Western visitors marveled at the city's unique gardening culture. Hundreds of uikyo-e (wood block prints) feature flowers and plants in a variety of urban settings including kimonos, festivals, nurseries, educational materials, Kabuki actors, and Noh dramas. Unlike Western cities of the time, Edo's passion for gardens extended to all sectors of society, including common people as well as court nobles, shoguns. and artists.

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Perhaps there is something circular in my modern day discovery of Tokyo's gardening culture. Why are Westerners still unaware of this unique feature of Japanese urban life? While gardens once served primarily for relaxation and entertainment, their role today could be even more profound, given global urbanization and climate change.

Cooperatively creating a map reflected the inherent hands-on quality of gardening, while sharing and deepening their understanding of green space. The map also effectively mimicked, albeit on a small scale, the way these spaces - public and private, large and smallmosaic together to create Tokyo's unique urban environment. _...;__ ---1 "Through the workshop people seemed to remember the places they love about Tokyo and why, and connected their memories and experiences with those ot"others. In the process, they gained new perspective and shared common ground," wrote Berthelsen.
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Accumulations

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Text: Joan Lambert B?~JI U R L: http://gre enz .jp/en/201 tive-map-r_eady-for-exploring
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Creating urban forests will clean the air and water, reverse the heat island effect, lower crime, improve mental health, encourage mass transit, reduce the carbon footprint of the food supply, and promote biodiversity. As a foreign resident, or more accurately a resident alien, Ul..:_

Tokyo has the potential to create change in the city through the quiet accumulation of urban elements rooted in everyday life
(Kitayama, K. 2010 . Preface. ing. TOTO Publishing, Tokyo, In Tokyo pll) MetaboliZ-

ready benefit from the increased sense of community and well-being that public gardening brinKS to even recent arrivals of the wor.ld's biggest metropolis.

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Many Japanese assume that improving Tokyo requires importing ideas from the West. On the contrary, I believe that Japanese do not realize Tokvo's unique cultural. spatial. and. above all. human resources which can make urban life even better in Japan and around the world.

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akusa

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Experiencing Tokyo at foot, hand, nose and eye-level the senses, challenged by the rich intricacy of the design, roam back and forth over the entire fabric, captivated by a flower, an animal, a head, lingering where they please, retracing their paths, taking the whole only by the assimilation of its parts, not commanding the design at a single glance.
(after Mumford, Brace Jovanovich. L. 1961. The City in History. p 306 discussing medieval New York, cities) Harcourt

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the constant logic of the unselfcons cio us process of continuous adaptation & piecemeal building by bricoleur gardeners who make do with their heterogeneous repertoire of resources to explore connections and new use 5 th rough action according to the suggestive qualities of urban

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There's something pre-modern and non-rational about the web of small Tokyo lanes, with unpredictable turns and numerous dead ends. The densely packed two and three story buildings almost touch, with a mix of small apartments and single family h o u s e s . Neither walkways nor small streets are named, there is no grid, and small gardens and small shops are the onlv way to remember your path the next time. Text: Jared Braiterman

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A col/age of Jinnai, H. 1995. Tokyo; A Spatial Anthropology. trans. Kimiko Nishimura. University of California Press, Berkley and Los Arlgeles, California.; Smith, 1978. Tokyo as an idea: An exploration of; Japanese urban thought until 1945. Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.4, No.1 (Winter, 1978j--; 45~80. Downloadable from http://www. colu mb fa. edu/~h ds 2/pdf /197 8_ Tokyo_ as_a n_ldea. pdf; Kitayama, K. 2010. Changes in Urban Areas of Tokyo at the Beginning of the 21st Century. In Tokyo Metabolizing. TOTO Publishing, Tokyo, p14-27.; Tsukamoto, Y. 2010. Escaping the spiral of intolera,.:.,n,..::e~e:-,-;-r.---',.T fourth-generation houses and void metabolism. In Tokyo-Metabo {zing. TOTO Publishing, Tokyo, p29-43.; Feireiss, K. 2000. Preface, in eds. M. Terada and M .. Kira. 1a an: Towards Tota/Sea Rotterdam, NAt Publishers, p5-6

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Tokyo is a dense place full of the iconic and prosaic, living nature and concrete structures, traces of the past and constant c h a ng e': Viewed from its tallest towers, Tokyo is an endless expanse of concrete that stretches for hundreds of kilometers. With the exception of a few wonderful large parks-many of them gifts from the imperial family-the city has never benefited from strong central planning or a top-down promotion of green space. The result is a gray urban environment largely cut off from nature.
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Yet despite this overabundance of concrete and steel, Tokyo is home to an extraordinary mix of plant visionaries, educators, local governments and ordinary citizens engaged in an effort to make a greener metropolis' . .r.r.I:i.3iI...,,'::.>-' _.. ~: -. Z'~. ~J6.'i Y ~ - --.... ~..... eo Tokyo residents demonstrate remarkable ingenuity in maximizing small private spaces and limited open spaces. Most foreigners are naware of Tokyo's human scale, remarkably safe streets and the profusion of tiny gardens often tended to by elderly residents. Tok esidents actively care for their surroundings with sidewalk and raj (alley) plants blurring the division between private and public, and ~ with vertical ardens thrivin in even the narrowes;.~~'p'~.ce! s.
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"More than a city, I think I saw it as a landscape"
(Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA) on his first impressions of Tokyo as a child living in the outer Tokyo suburbs of Kawasaki and Hachioji)

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"A collection of living organisms ... an extremely organic landscape, and that's something I rate very highly"
(on his present impression of Tokyo as a democratic landscape, Kitayama, K. 2010d. An interview with Ryue Nishizawa. In Tokyo Metabolizing. TOTO Publishing, Tokyo, plOl-107)

Central

Tokyo

" .. the whole city, like a mosaic or a kaleidoscope, sparkled with myriad different images created by the particularity of individual locales, their terrain, and their histories."
(Jinnai, H. 1995, Tokyo; A Spatial Anthropology, l05 Angeles, California, page 1591 trans. Kimiko Nishimura. University of California Press, Berklev and

A collective memory of a patchwork of hidden patterns of ownership, developed rapidly and haphazardly under high economic and demographic pressures, absent legal mechanisms, and resistance of local community to central planning now exists as legg and shell' (urban village) neighbourhoods (high-rise on the perimeter, low rise on the interior) with 'virtually no open space' where gardeners, bird watchers, beekeepers, and neighborhood volunteers improve urban life through their everyday knowledge and

Imperial

Palace

Tokyo Station

,.1..Facing page a collage of: Shelton, B. 1999 . i e er nl n g from the Japanese City, Rout/edge, New York. Smith, 1978. Tokyo a. an idea: An exploration of Japan e s e urban thought until 1945. Jour n»! of Japan e s e Studi e s, VolA, No. 1 (Winter, 1978), 45-80. Downloadable fro m http://www. columbia. eduj-h dsl/p df/1978_ Tok vo_ as_an_ Ide a. pdf «ertcn ot , I. 2000. Fs r e w e]! in eds. M, Terada and M. Kira. Japan: Towards TotalScape, Rotterdam, NAI Publi.hers, p29-31. Echanove. M.S. & Srivastava. R. Z008. IJrban natures: of fields and forests. Downloaded from hUpJ/www.airoots.org/2008/05/urban-n.tures-of-fields-and-forestsl tones, M. 2007. Private use of public open sp s ce In Tokyo. A study of the hybrid te n d s c e p e of Tokyo's informal gardens. Journal of Landscape Arch,tecture. Autumn, 2007. Tsukamoto, Y. 2010. Escaping the spiral of intolerance: fourth-generatIon houses and void metabolism. In Tokyo Metaboliling. TOTO Publishing, Tokyo, p29 43. Braiterman., I. lOla. Rep/adng Dead Urb.n Spaces with living Habitat. hnp://www.huffingtonpost.com/iared-bra/terma n/reploc in g=d e ild-urban-spa ,_b_54 74190 h rrn /
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"Pick one spot in the city and begin to think of it as yours. It doesn't matter where, and it doesn't matter what."
Auster, P. 2003. Collected Prose. London, Faber and Faber. p285-7.

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Urban dead space can be easily and econom.ically transformed into living habitat, connecting our urban lives to the natural world. To change our cities, we must demand better of our leaders and our surroundings
Read More:.http://www.huffingtonpost.com/}aredbraiterm a n/repla ci ng-dead-ur ba n-spa c~b ~54 7419. htm I.

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Tokyo is a delicious city, not only for the Michelin guided, but for any soul walking through town. One doesn't just see scores of unique restaurants packed into tiny side streets, but also smells a home cooked meal wafting from a kitchen window, is bathed in the incense of a street corner yakitori vendor, and can reach up and pick a fresh, soft loquat from a street-side tree. It's a stimulating place and you wont go hungry here. (Jess Mantell: edoble.com)

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Tamako (Lake Tama) is a man-made (almost entirely by hand) lake in Western Tokyo built between 1916 and 1927 as a water supply for Tokyo. Seven small, agrarian villages located in the river valley were flooded and residents 'moved-on' as part of the 'lake development'. The lake is one of the"Shin Tokyo Hyakkei" (100 new scenic spots of Tokyo) designated in 1982 and is popular all year round for cherry blossom viewing in spring, deep red autumn leaves, snowy winter views, and the Lake Tama cycling course which extends from Nishi Tokyo City to loop the Ia k e. (http://www.geocities.jp/akutamako/english.html)

Text a col/age of Jinnai, . Tokyo; A Spatial Anthropolo trans. Kimiko Nishimura. Unive of California Pre gel e s, California, page 122; Shelton, B. 1999. Lea e Japanese City. Routledge, New York, p63; and Thakera, 1986:66 in Shelton .

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As people move, traverse, build and break (structures and relationships), are born, and pass away the personal impacts (motivations) of gardening extend over axes of time [imm e diet e/l o ng-t e t m ) and function (practical/ emotional): Social Norms "Everyone has a garden around here; It's what we do"; Tradition - "My grandparents and parents cared for this garden"; Memory - "I got this plant on a trip to Kamakura, and this one was given to me by my daughter"; Community - A starting point for discussions and friendship; Being out on the street tending the plants fosters daily interaction and communication; Affordable - "It's a cheap and fun hobby"; Practical Privacy, Shade, Food; Beauty - Visual qualities; Mutual Independence - Like a pet, or child; Pleasure Scent, Taste, Fun etc ...

A House

Made

of Chili

Pepper

She was very proud of this blue-purple rose, which she told me her mother had given her. She also pointed out the potted loquat tree which would soon fruit and also an old grape vine tied up against the building. I admired her frugality in re-using water, her energy in traveling up and down the stairs, and her friendliness to this foreign neighbor. This story highlights how gardening is enmeshed with frugality, anticipation and memory. Frugality includes the water-reuse and also on-going maintenance of the plants over many years. Anticipation for what is emergent and what will soon be. And memory sparked by plants about who gifted them and what life was like back when they were planted.

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A Quiet

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tokyo

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HAND MADE TOKYO Jared to kvodiv -gard eni ng. or g booklet

Document of the Tokyo Mapping Workshop at 3331 Arts CYD Berthelsen Braiterman, Chris asmalttab.com / tokyogreenspace.eom offi ce-fo r-th e- ha nd - m ad e. 0 rg 'des i gn 'leo neept: