The idea of green city is getting more and more popular recently. I believe it’s a good trend, because urban areas are now home to 50 per cent of the world’s population. A concept of green city can be understood in many ways. Also, different cities have different green strategies to reach high environmental performance. So can we talk about green Tokyo?
I absolutely love urban farming, so I was delighted to hear that Paris has just passed a law allowing citizens to plant basically everywhere in the city. It should not be surprising to anyone, as the concept of jardin partagé (community garden) is already well known to Parisians. Berlin is another great example of the green city. Of course there are places more and less green-friendly, but all around the world the general trend of greening the public spaces is definitely positive.
Why do I mention that in the first place? Because there’s still this a very unfavorable stereotype about Tokyo being a “concrete jungle”. Surely, during the postwar era of reconstruction and modernization of Japan, no one really thought about leaving the space for community green, but today’s Tokyo is far from that.
Fortunately the term “concrete jungle” doesn’t always have a negative meaning. Looking up for the different meanings of this term I found this nice definition:
Concrete jungle: A large urban city. Like a jungle, there is so much going on in large cities and so much depth to its high rises and train systems underground. Also like jungles, cities are loud and alive at night and something is always going on 24/7.
If we think of Tokyo in this perspective, hell yeah, let it be a concrete jungle. I absolutely love it!
Is Tokyo more concrete or more green? I would say it’s fifty-fifty.
Of course it depends in which area of this huge metropolis you are, but Japanese are perfect in fitting even the smallest gardens in the most unexpected places. And there are always some small plants in the pots even in the most urbanized areas.
Tokyo is definitely a multi-level city. You will easily find some green spaces under the ground, as well as on the height of 3 or 5 floors above the street level. That makes planting possible on every level and basically in every dimension. I absolutely love this concept!
Shiodome “high garden” also looks nice during the night
When sightseeing in Tokyo, it’s always possible to find a green oasis to rest somewhere in the neighborhood. Some of them are very famous, like Yoygi park or Tokyo heritage gardens, but some of them are known only to people living nearby (and to lucky tourists using Google Maps when sightseeing). I’d like to show you both type of places, to make sure you get all shades of Tokyo’s green.
Green buildings can be found all around Tokyo. I’ve seen several ones in Roppongi, Azabu, and beside the Sumida river banks. Green buildings are not only beautiful, but also energy and environment-friendly (plants build a natural insulation of the buildings, absorb carbon dioxide and serves as a natural habitat to pollinators).
Pasona Urban Farm. One of the flagship projects of urban farming in the heart of Tokyo.
Tokyo Station’s neighborhood. I love the way the green is used by the modern urban architects. There’s no more boundary between human-made and nature-made. Marble and green grass seems to be a perfect composition. It’s neat, aesthetic and natural.
Beautiful all year round
No matter the season, city green always have something to offer. Moreover, it keeps you up to date with the nature’s year cycle. In Tokyo, you will find tropical evergreen trees growing along with the ones that loose their leaves seasonally. Also, quite often, due to the warm climate of Tokyo, some sakura trees accidentally starts blooming in winter season. Whenever I notice such winter flowers, I feel real joy, because I know that spring is just around the corner 🙂
Nippon Television Tower in Shiodome has a high (around 5 floor) garden with interesting benches…
Looks nice in the sunny, winter day.
Spring in the city means, above all, the festival of fragrances and colors of different types of flowers blooming one after another.
Japanese Summer in the tiny garden surrounding Tokyo Midtown – business and shopping center in the busy Roppongi district.
Tokyo turns red, when trees start to get Autumn foliage
Hanami in the city
Famous Japanese sakura viewing season is especially enjoyable in Tokyo. During hanami people get crazy about the cherry flowers. There are even a one-day trips to Tokyo best viewing spots organized by the travel agencies – the reservation for this trips usually starts long before the spring comes… Sakura are everywhere, as well as people who want to capture the best photos.
Green public utility spaces
Sometimes there’s a very little space for the city green. Fortunately “managing space shortage” is what Japanese already got used to and mastered long ago. Multi-level green Tokyo doesn’t bother about lack of space for its flowers. Why not – for example – let them hang down from the pergolas and create soft shadow over the bicycle parking?
Sometimes you don’t create green to fit particular infrastructure. Sometimes the infrastructure is created for the green, like in this photo below. During the tulip blooming season the path cuts the flower field on half, allowing people to approach the flowers as close as possible.
Abandoned green building in Ōji neighborhood. Ōji used to be very popular spot for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) in the Edo era. Now it’s still famous for its huge park full of sakura trees, as well as many green spots for locals.
Famous parks and historical gardens
Tokyo has several big city parks, as well as many historical gardens. Nine most beautiful gardens creates Tokyo Cutural Heritage Gardens. Hama Rikyū Garden in Shiodome is one of them.
Hama Rikyū Garden. The way this field of rapeseed contrast with the skyscrapers in the background always astonishes me. It looks like someone took a part of wild countryside landscape and transplanted it directly to the heart of Tokyo. When I first saw it blooming at the beginning of March, I couldn’t believe my eyes. But yes, no photoshop involved. It’s real!
One of my favorite pocket city gardens in Tokyo is Hinokicho garden in Roppongi. 10 minutes on foot from my university. 2 minutes on foot from my church. How convenient 🙂
Shiodome neighborhood during Hydrangea blooming season
Many faces of green Tokyo
What I like about Japan and Japanese is that a community space doesn’t belong to no one. It belongs to everyone and everyone takes care about it. People do not destroy, pick or steal plants from the common places, as it happens from time to time in Warsaw. Although I’ve never seen anything like that myself, I heard about some old grandmas digging out flowers from street pots in the old town to plant them in their home gardens… Well, I just hope that the next generations will be wiser, when growing up in the city where green is a natural surrounding of human.
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