Saturday, March 18, 2017

Private garden tour - Shinmachi

It was an absolute delight to be given a guided tour of two private gardens in Shinmachi this week. Youkobo Art Space where I am currently in residence, sits within Shinmachi, a name from older times for a smaller surrounding local area. I've walked many of the streets in Shinmachi looking at land that was once an agricultural greenbelt of Tokyo. So being invited behind the gates to see gardens up close was a real treat.

At Youkobo Art Space, Tatsuhiko Murata introduced me to the 'Urban jungle', a garden with many memories, heritage, art and seasonal flora. Artworks by Hiroko Murata and Ryozo Takashima have a delightful presence as they occupy open and hidden spaces within the garden. Citrus fruit, salty plum, apricot and ornamental banana plants provide seasonal flowers and attract birds. This little 'wild' patch is a haven.

Tatsuhiko Murata-san in his garden.

Above: Ryozo Takashima-san with his artwork 'Jinen Seki' transported from 'Trolls in the Park' 2015 Open air festival to the Youkobo garden.
Trolls in the Park is a contemporary art exhibition held annually since 2002. Bringing together an open air art exhibition held in metropolitan Zenpukuji Park every year since its inception, and various exhibitions in the town of Nishiogikubo since 2014.

The second garden visited has been in the family of Noda-san for many generations, formally being an agricultural farm. Now surrounded by dense suburbia, a smaller garden remains with remnants of agricultural heritage. It was so interesting to hear the history and connection to land of this family. A grove of bamboo forest stands amongst surrounding homes as a special place to visit and listen to the wind blowing.

With special thanks to Youkobo Art Space and Eiichi Noda-san for opening their gardens and exchanging their stories with me.

The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and the City of Gold Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland.

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