Saturday, 18 December 2010

Gardening in japan Tokyo-DIY-Gardening

Living in a far away country I have had to deal with the language barrier many times. I am still a beginner in Japanese and had much more to learn. Because of this many common activities, like going to the store or getting directions, can become a daunting task. So when I started growing my little garden in japan one of the aspects I had to consider was how to overcome all this cultural differences. I could see everywhere profs of how important and beautiful gardening is in here, they have astonishing gardens all around and a very inventive and special approach to the art of gardening. I definitely wanted to learn from them.

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Spring sakura in a garden in Japan



Fortunately, gardening has become a bridge for me to reach out to the new culture. I have a lot of fun trying to communicate with people and asking them about this plant or this growing method. Some days the only time I get to speak Japanese is when I visit the garden center or a little gardening shop (not many nurseries in the middle of the city). Little by little, with very simple sentences, a lot of gestures and the occasional drawing I have gotten a small insight into Japanese gardening.

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Beautiful autumn Japanese garden



However, doing things this way only allows me to see the tip of the iceberg. But, very luckily, and thanks to my blog, I have meet a lot of wonderful people here in Japan with whom there is not a language barrier problem. And also thanks to them I had gotten a much more in depth look into the Japanese gardening culture.

Two of them are Jared Braiterman and Chris Berthelsen. I had the pleasure of going with them recently for a fascinating walk around Omotesando danchi (an old neighborhood downtown Tokyo).

They have an amazing website called Tokyo-DIY-Gardening. There they have a very inspiring recompilation of stories, examples, instructions, photo essays, observations, interviews, articles and much more about urban gardening. All of it is done with a main focus in sharing and creation around low-cost, simple and easy to do ideas, mostly implemented around Tokyo.

Here is a small description of their project from them

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 plants. We want to show that growing plants for food and decoration is easy, and that there are many ways to create space for gardens in even the densest and most crowded city. There's also something social and even magical about improving our always imperfect public spaces. 


They sometimes have activities, like a workshop at The Chiyoda arts center, where they mapped out some Tokyo and its green spaces from the personal experiences of the participants.

One more thing, on that last meeting I was lucky enough they accepted a couple of mints shoots I took from my main plants some time ago. It is great to be able to share part of my garden, It is great to see my little garden in japan growing much farther apart from the little balcony where is set. I am sure they will grow very nicely under their care.

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Little mints from my garden


This has also gave me the inspiration to share much more of my little garden, I have a lot of extra seeds, plants and bulbs to give. Anyone wants some?

28 comments:

  1. When I think of Japanese gardening I tend to find it a little intimidating -- the photos I see look so perfect (including yours)! It's nice to know that people think beginners are welcome to the hobby and that there are websites to help.

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  2. Hi Fer! It's good to know you are growing your own little garden of friends in Tokyo. I think your pots and plant labels are adorable. I'd love to receive some of what you can spare. Maybe let me know what you are sending so I can get the proper permits as needed.

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  3. Those first two pictures are stunningly beautiful! I am glad that gardening is becoming a bridge between cultures for you. I always hope that it will be able to serve that function in many places.

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  4. Hi fer, So wonderful that you're making so many friends and sharing gardening experiences. I've really enjoyed learning about the Japanese gardening culture along with you - so different from our own here in Texas...thanks for all your effort in your posts.

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  5. Great post Fer. I love your attitude - you're always positive and making the most of every opportunity.
    Maybe you would like to take a look at http://www.balconycompost.com/ It has an article I contributed, as well as some pictures in its small gallery. I reckon you might get on well with the website's author, Cameron Preston. He sounds "innovative" like you.

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  6. Lovely photos - the trees are really beautiful and I also love the little pots of mint with your cute labels - is it real wood?

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  7. I can appreciate your attitude toward understanding cultures of other countries with using foreign language.
    I also started my blog in order to communicate with many people in the world and share various ideas with them.
    English is one of "powerful tool" for the purposes.
    My English is poorer than yours on your blog but if you want to know some Japanese words or the translation, feel free to ask me!

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  8. Gardening brings so many like minded people together. It's nice to be able to share our plants too, spreading a little of our own gardens far and wide.

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  9. Wow! Those gardens are amazing! Spring and Autumn are definitely stunning in Japan. I also like those little cards you made. That is very creative of you.

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  10. aloha

    what a wonderful way to learn a language and make some new friends and from blogging...good for you. just goes to show that gardening is a universal language :)

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  11. The first two pictures are truly stunning! You are such a brave soul, fer, to travel to another country and tackle not only the culture but the language and a garden!! Your intrepid spirit is inspiring!! :o)

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  12. Hi Fer, It's a wonderful thing that we make friends from our interest. Beautiful photos of the garden, and very cute plant labels :)

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  13. I love the photos, but how wonderful to have found gardening friends! It makes such a difference. Love your plant labels...

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  14. great pictures. you are very lucky to live in Japan and see magnific gardens. They are special people who has respect and love for the nature...

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  15. Fer, great attitude you are an inspiration.

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  16. Japanese garden brings images of tranqullity, serenity and perfectness of Zen rock garden and of course the beauty of sakura blooms! Its good to connect with people even they are far far away, it widens your horizon, add new perspective in your life and at the same time your are learning foreign cultures and of course making lots of new friends! Happy holidays and Merry Xmas Fer!

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  17. I really enjoy reading about your gardening adventures and having you come read about mine. I never thought about this when I decided to start a blog, but it is so much fun. Carolyn

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  18. Beautiful post!! I confess to feeling a bit envious of your being able to live in Japan! Such a rich culture and as you mention, the Japanese do have a unique approach to gardening . . . to seeing the landscape. Their gardens transport us and the fine art of flower arranging mirrors their love of nature. Sharing their love of gardening is a wonderful way for you to learn the language and names of plants. Perfect! Happy Solstice!

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  19. Merry Christmas Fer. It sounds like you are beginning to create a little community around you. I can not imagine what it would be like to be immersed in such a different culture. It sounds like you are making the best of it - I applaud you.

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  20. The spring and autumn gardens you feature here are so beautiful. I think you are getting along fine in Japan. I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas!

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  21. Thank you very much for your comments! is always great to get some feedback.

    Bom~ Sure I will post later a list of things to give away, just need to sort them around a little.

    Mark~ I will check the website for sure, it looks very interesting.

    Sue~ it is real wood, they sell those really cheap (around a dolar) and I got a bunch.

    Takaeko~ I hope you dont mind if I follow up on that, there is so much i want to ask.

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  22. wonderful garden photos!
    I bet you got lots of interesting plants for food and other that are so different from what we can find here. always interesting to se

    thanks for your comment!

    Christina, sweden

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  23. The 2 pictures that you posted showed marvellous scenes in Japan. How lucky of you to be staying there and get to enjoy the beautiful plants and nature.

    I also like the little name cards that you have for your mint plants. Are those D-I-Y too? Can you share how they are made?

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  24. I love the basket type planters! How could I get some?

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  25. Hi Rosanna!
    i got those at a place called 100Y shop
    It is a japanese version of the the dollar store.
    hope you can find some too

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  26. Thanks for sharing such nice information about gardening tool. keep writing..

    frank lopez

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