I shot this series over the 4 years I lived and worked in Tokyo during the early 90s. The tourist might expect to see Ikebana, the high art of floral arrangement; as a resident, I discovered these gardens.
Tokyo is a sprawling crowded city of concrete, glass and steel. The traditional wooden homes have mostly been replaced and living spaces are small and measured in Tatami mats. Yet all over the city, people made the time and found a spot to grow plants and flowers. Nurtured in the smallest and what seemed like random available spaces; these gardens appeared to contrast the glossy, high tech, well ordered, and light years ahead in fashion and design culture that most contemporary Japanese championed.
As a New Yorker, I wasn’t unfamiliar with big city life, but Tokyo’s pace was unlike anything that I’d experienced. It was daunting and confusing at times. The gardens softened the city. They reminded me that this city of millions was made of small neighborhoods, where every day people cared about growing little flowers.