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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Shibuya Flower Project

'Shibuhana' Volunteer Group, Tokyo

The heart of
Japan’s commercial youth culture beats hard in the slope just north-west of Shibuya station. Neon a go-go, hip-hop bagginess, tanned-to-crisp bleachedness, afros, Ts, alohas, crewcuts, strutting natural cool, slinky grim cool, billboards, packed Starbucks … shopping bags, shopping bags, shopping bags.
I was there today CD shopping and took the JR line from Shinjuku. I went out the famous ‘Hachiko’ exit, nicknamed after the statue of the legendary faithful dog that dominates it. As I headed towards the shopping area I noticed that the Easter Island-type sculpture of a head known as ‘Moyai’ that ‘Hachiko’ now shares the plaza with was surrounded with huge golden sunflowers. There were people tending them, all in the same design T-shirt. On a blissful summer day like today it was a beautifully vivid spectacle and after stopping to take a shot of it, I approached the young gardeners.

The volunteer group ‘Shibuhana’ (shibu for Shibuya, hana: the Japanese word for flower) runs the Shibuya Flower Project, its motto: ‘Flowers in Shibuya, smile on people, the seeds are in your heart’. The founder’s inspiration was to try and reduce the number of people who thoughtlessly littered the teeming streets of the quarter by beautifying it.
The beautifying efforts are focused on the ‘Moyai’ sculpture garden. Every month has a different flower theme. Next month is the turn of the cosmos, to which, apparently, the now happily blooming sunflowers will have to give way. Check out their website.

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