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.
Students, mothers and other protesters staged rallies at more than 200 locations across Japan on Sunday, calling for the scrapping of controversial security legislation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to enact to strengthen the role of Japanese forces abroad. (Kyodo)
HIROSAKI, Aomori - The tower of Hirosaki Castle, a state-designated important cultural asset, is being towed dozens of meters away from its original location as part of a project to repair its stone walls. (The Japan News)
A bogus smartphone tip spreading through tweets is causing a headache for the National Police Agency as users have been tricked into dialing the emergency number 110 in at least 22 prefectures. (Japan Times)