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.
Tokyo prosecutors are searching the house of a former aide to Lower House member Yuko Obuchi over the recent political funds scandal. The scandal drove Obuchi from her post as Economy, Trade and Industry Minister. (NHK)
Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said Wednesday he had a "nice meeting" with Chinese President Xi Jinping, less than two weeks ahead of a gathering of Asia-Pacific leaders in Beijing where there is a window of opportunity for the two countries to thaw icy relations. (Kyodo)
Japan came in 104th in the World Economic Forum's gender equality rankings for 2014, up from 105th the previous year but still far behind other major industrialized nations, the Geneva-based group said Tuesday. (The Japan News)
In spite of a recent fall in organized crime membership, Fukuoka Prefectural Police on Monday released a manga comic to discourage participation in yakuza gangs, reports the Nishi Nippon Shimbun (Oct. 27). (Tokyo Reporter)
Monday marks exactly one month since Japan experienced its deadliest volcanic eruption in decades. The eruption of Mount Ontake in the central part of the country killed 57 people. 6 others are still listed as missing. (NHK)