Rooftop gardens have always offered a sanctuary in the Tokyo metropolitan area, but unlike those of yesteryear, which were simple, flat areas featuring plants and trees, today's more elaborate gardens are built like forests or along vertical spaces.
In spring last year, Omohara no Mori opened on the rooftop of the Tokyu Plaza Omotesando Harajuku commercial complex in Shibuya Ward. Tall trees such as Japanese zelkova and katsura (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) are planted in a basin-shaped area of 820 square metres, forming a garden that looks like a forest. One garden display is outfitted with a counter and chairs along its six sides, allowing visitors a view of trees as they relax with a cup of coffee.
A number of rooftop parks have been built to ease the "urban heat island" phenomenon in which big cities see abnormal rises in temperature.
Some local governments require developers that construct or renovate buildings to plant trees on the rooftop if the buildings are over a certain size. They also financially support developers' greenery projects.
According to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, the total area of rooftop greenery was 130,000 square meters in 2000. The figure had surged to 3.3 million square metres in 2011.
The probability for the Kanto region to be hit by a powerful earthquake - lower 6 or higher on the Japanese intensity scale of 7 - within 30 years has risen, the government panel's latest quake probability map showed Friday. (The Japan News)
A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan's scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on stem cells. (Japan Today)
The Niigata prefectural government started clearing a section of National Highway Route 405 in Tsunan in the prefecture on Friday, after a landslide mixed with snow blocked off about 50 meters of the road the night before. (The Japan News)
The Chiba Public Safety Commission has banned a 29-year-old man from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, from riding a bicycle for 90 days, after he was found guilty of cycling under the influence of "kiken" quasi-legal drugs. (Japan Times)
Heavy snow caused a power outage along parts of the Joetsu Shinkansen Line for about six hours on Sunday morning, leaving some 300 passengers trapped in a bullet train for 2½ hours near the mountainous southern border of Niigata Prefecture. (Japan Times)