*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Monday 29 April 2013


Compare these three cities I've been a resident of, viewed from space, at close to the same scale:


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In each case I have centred the map on its best park, by my evaluation:
- Tokyo's Meiji-jingu and Yoyogi
- Toronto's High Park
- Montréal's Parc du Mont-Royal

What makes each its best park?

A full deciduous tree canopy.  I really did not like Southern California, or South East Asia: I am predisposed to temperate forest tree canopy.  It's the Goldilock's forest: "just right".

For this, among many other things, Montréal is best: its large park is just off downtown and near affordable rental, meaning a poor student as I was could afford to access it.  Toronto's is in an area I cannot afford, as is Tokyo's, but at least Tokyo's (and Montréal's) does not have a stupid public access road through it, with just enough traffic to be a danger, but not enough to have a point: typical of the city.  And although Tokyo has a shocking shortage of tree cover* at least it has reliable transit to get to its parks; too bad about the weekend crowds.

"Green spaces boosts wellbeing of urban dwellers - study"

Very much worth a read, though you must have sensed it already, if you've endured Japan's concrete.  I think I am going to take the J-wife and the hybrids for a circle route through Meiji-jingu on one of this week's weekdays I have off from school.  They ought to know what a forest looks, smells and sounds like.  Sure, there is green in the foothills of the mountains here: artificial cedar plantations.  It will also take me far longer to get there, and there're no young women to look at, just crones.

An odd thing: I only went much for walks in Montréal.  I walk enough in Tokyo, as I do not have a car and wouldn't have one.  I did not so much in Toronto, since it is so spread out it is better to use a bike, if you can brave the idiot drivers, or underground transit, the few places it reaches: getting about on Toronto roads by car, bus or streetcar is next to pointless.  Tokyo has interesting places, of which Toronto has few, but Tokyo's are all clustered around stations.  Stations are separated from each other by highway-ribboned concrete canyons.  Montréal is the only city of the three that is dense (downtown) interesting and has tree cover.  Damn, I should have studied French and stayed...

*The other day I told a joke at an after-work party: "The Japanese definition of 'countryside' is anywhere there are two trees which can touch boughs."


  1. "The Japanese definition of 'countryside' is anywhere there are two trees which can touch boughs."

    Man...did anyone Japanese get the joke or did you get some "deer in the headlights" looks followed by some polite laughs...cuz they thought they should.

    Dry humor with Japanese is a sub comedy...the lack of "get"...the total disconnect with an urge to please is potent humor in itself.

    Next time...laugh back and say "You folks have no clue as to what I'm talking about do yah?....aaaah..."I said I want to fornicate with your woman compadre!!"

    Yeah....ha ha ...clap at that too!!

    It's priceless to be bent over with tears of laughter knowing nobody gets it...and you think if laughing too much can kill ya your gonna die tonight cuz these folks are too funny to be real.

  2. I'm certainly not going to over-praise British cities. The word 'tawdry' springs too mind too often for that. But what they do have is lots of green spaces, and certainly in comparison to Japan's concrete sweat-boxes.

    I mentioned to a colleague that most school in the UK have playing fields with real grass. She looked slightly aghast and asked if it wasn't expensive to look after. When I responded that there was a relative gap in the education budget because we all knew how to write the whole alphabet by age 7, so didn't need another 11 years worth of writing tuition, she seemed fairly non-plussed.

    Japanese people love the idea of nature in much the same way I love the idea of kinky S+M sex. Fun in my imaination and nice to watch on TV, but in practice it's just too much effort. And so messy.

    1. Nature smells better and leaves fewer stains...

      Are British city parks ancient 'commons' or royal/noble hunting grounds? It would explain why they were preserved. N.American ones were planned before the cities grew around them. A few may be 'slum clearances'.

      The lack of trees on private property has of course much to do with the lack of private property that doesn't have a rabbit-hutch built up to its property lines. Also, the usual inflexible idiocy of Japanese laws: I understand neighbours can bring a civil suit on you for dropped leaves and shade - never mind a deciduous tree would not shade much in winter and give much needed shade in summer.

      The sand school grounds, the cause of so many gashed knees and elbows? My guess is they were designed for drill. Either since the thirties or since the Meiji er. Probably for the same duration as the boy's Prussian uniforms.