You ever notice the potted plants that line the front of some Tokyo businesses or houses? This phenomenon can be described as ‘micro gardens’, ‘DIY gardening’, or ‘urban gardening’, but I’m partial to the term 路上園芸 rojo engei, which means ‘street gardening’. These plants are a pleasant addition to Tokyo’s streets, streets that often are bereft of trees. One great website is Tokyo DIY gardening, which catalogues various types of street gardens, including ‘Curbside Embedded Pots’ and ‘Hanging Pots off a Breeze Block Wall’:
Other terms for the same or similar concept include:
- 下町路上園芸 = shitamachi street gardening
- 路地ガーデニング = alley gardening
Originally I named this post ‘Let us now praise potted plants’ after the book: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men; I ditched the title, but I’d still like to praise the plants. Not only do they add much-needed greenery to Tokyo, they also provide a sense of whimsy and disorder that would otherwise be missing in Tokyo’s concrete, ordered streets.
Some of my examples:
Some examples from Twitter:
There are a few questions about street gardening that I don’t have the patience to answer. They are:
- Are there any rules? For instance, are potted plants on public streets completely legal?
- Have there been any notable controversies? E.g. theft of plants?
- 路上園芸から見えてくる！ Street gardening coming into view!
- Rojo engei Facebook page
- Major street gardening Twitter page: @
- Tokyo Green Space: Street Gardening / DIY gardening
- Tokyo DIY gardening