Tokyo Gardening: Making Gardens with No Space

You must head over to Ping Magazine and take a look at this photo-essay on Guerilla Greening in Tokyo. With only 4% of the city allocated for green space and no yards to speak of, residents have found unique ways to garden and green public spaces. What an inspiration!

I found the part about three-tiered bleacher-like stands notable as just the other day I walked past and contemplated bringing home the very same that someone had put out on the curb for garbage day. It struck me as perfect for my roof garden but was made of dense wood, far too heavy for me to carry the long walk home with bags of stuff slung over my shoulders. I’ve got it in my head now to make one this spring.

Beyond the creative ways people are beautifying public space, I was also very taken by this quote about the lack of vandalism in Tokyo and peoples’ attitude towards public gardens as something to be respected.

One possible reason might be what ethnographies describe as the respect Japanese have for public and private space. To generalize a bit: Everyone plays a part in keeping spaces nice, tidy and orderly for everyone else in ‘the group.’ This possibly also explains all those times we see strangers picking up other people’s rubbish in the streets. As such, (hopefully every) Japanese person would not think of littering or destroying a tiny flowerpot garden since, as a part of a shared common space, it is to be respected.

Oh how I long for a public attitude of respect and mutual responsibility in my own neighbourhood. I was fascinated by the idea of seeing and experiencing the massive metropolis that is Tokyo in my early 20′s but have lost interest over the years. However, the sight of so much creative greening amidst an intense urban environment is very intriguing.

Thanks to Leela for the link.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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7 thoughts on “Tokyo Gardening: Making Gardens with No Space

  1. thanks for this, i’m going to tokyo in february so i’ll look out for examples. it will be winter, so things might not be so green, but i’ll try to take as many pics as i can. i can’t wait! :D

  2. Thanks for this link and for your wonderful site. I agree, it would be wonderful if everyone respected their neighbors’ gardening efforts. We live near a high school and I have had problems with students taking my potted plants and throwing them on the sidewalk. Very frustrating!

  3. Wow – I really like the vertical planter outside the eyeglass store. I’m picturing large square planters like that on the ground. A good landscape designer could get a lot of good ideas from that article.

  4. Wow – I really like the vertical planter outside the eyeglass store. I’m picturing large square planters like that on the ground. A good landscape designer could get a lot of good ideas from that article.

  5. Perhaps yougrowgirl.com should have a call-a-vehicle-and-driver posting in the various city-based forums. Localized, say within 5 to 10 miles, it would just have a listing of contact numbers, times each car and driver was available, etc. It sure would be handy the next time you find yourself thinking “perfect for my roof garden” but then you think “far too heavy for me”. …Instead of walking away unhappy, you could just pull out your local-driver-list, cross reference the times to see who is avaialble and start calling. If some one wants to create a forum for west-downtown Toronto… then my-car-and-I are on it! …garden centre trips, yadda yadda…

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