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.
Increased seismic activity raised concern Tuesday about the possibility of another eruption at a Japanese volcano where 36 people were killed, forcing rescuers to suspend plans to try to recover at least two dozen bodies still near the summit. (seattletimes.com)
The eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan has revealed serious holes in efforts to ensure the safety of tourists and local residents near volcanoes, gaps that can be remedied only through more communication between local governments and the country's climate agency. (Nikkei)
Police in Tokyo said Saturday they have arrested a 24-year-old clerk at the Tokyo District Court and a 39-year-old employee of the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ on suspicion of molesting a woman in her 20s on the subway. (Japan Today)
The summit of Mount Fuji for the first time has been successfully photographed in far-away Kyoto Prefecture, one of 20 prefectures where, given the right conditions, the mountaintop can be viewed. (Japan Times)