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 annual "kanji" Chinese character of the year in Japan went to "ring" on Thursday, after Tokyo's successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics, often referred to in local print media as "five rings." (Straits Times )
Tokyo police say they will restrict public access around the main intersection outside Shibuya Station between 10 p.m. Dec. 31 and 2 a.m. Jan. 1 to prevent a crush of New Year's revelers forming for the countdown, a recurrent problem in recent years. (Japan Times )
The opening of an additional railway link between JR Ueno and JR Tokyo stations in spring 2015 will drastically change services of the Tokaido, Tohoku and other lines and may cause confusion among passengers. (Yomiuri )
Two death-row inmates were hanged Thursday in the fourth round of executions since the launch last December of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said. (Japan Times )
On Saturday at around 11:30 a.m., officers arrested Hideaki Shoji, a resident of Yokohama, after he allegedly came up from behind a 21-year-old female college student and shot digital images up her skirt as she stood on a platform at Kuhonbutsu Station in Setagaya Ward. (Tokyo Reporter)
A 12-year battle for justice took an enormous financial, emotional and physical toll, says Catherine Jane Fisher. But for the Australian teacher of English and mother of three, it's time to savor a landmark court victory. (womensenews.org )
The number of shoplifting cases accounted for nearly 10 pct of all criminal offenses recognized by Japanese police, with the rate increasing, a National Police Agency survey showed Wednesday. (Jiji Press )