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JasonD

Palms in Japan?

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JasonD

I'm headed to Tokyo in 10 days and will, of course, be visiting many gardens there and in Kyoto. The second half of my trip is wide open right now. Where might I see palms in Japan? I assume Kyushu is the best hunting grounds among the main islands, but I don't plant to go to Okinawa. Any specific gardens or natural areas to suggest (palmy or non-palmy both ok)?

Thanks!

Jason

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Tassie_Troy1971
I'm headed to Tokyo in 10 days and will, of course, be visiting many gardens there and in Kyoto. The second half of my trip is wide open right now. Where might I see palms in Japan? I assume Kyushu is the best hunting grounds among the main islands, but I don't plant to go to Okinawa. Any specific gardens or natural areas to suggest (palmy or non-palmy both ok)?

Thanks!

Jason

Hi Jason

Not sure if you will encounter many palms over there , Trachycarpus , rhapis down south but there will some beautiful gardens to see over there .

Have a great Holiday ! :D

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Palmə häl′ik

It snows there.

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PersistentPalms

It would be awesome to see Satakentia's in habitat. That's a bit more remote than Tokyo... :blush::greenthumb::innocent:

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PalmGuyWC

Jason,

It was many years ago when I visited Japan, but it was also in October. We expected to see autumn color, but it was chilly and rained constantly. Because of the language difficultys, the weather, and the congestion in Tokyo, we gave up and booked a 4 day tour to Kyoto and Nara. Our guide was the only one we met that spoke fair English. We took the bullet train to Kyoto and saw a lot of the Japanese country side which is beautiful and riding on the train is quite an experience.

The only palms I saw were a few Rhapis and 2 very old Tracheycarpus wagnerianus growing at the train station in Kyoto, but maybe things have changed by now as it was many years ago when I was there. I think English is a required subject in Japan now, so maybe the young people speak English. The temples and gardens in Kyoto are magnificant. I advise a tour as you will never find all the interesting spots on you your own, and I would never attempt to drive in Japan. Only a native could navigate the narrow, twisty, turney streets in the large citys in Japan.

Have a great trip. Japan is beautiful, but expensive. When I was there a glass of orange juice cost $5 and that was a long time ago.

Dick

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Matt in SD

I don't think there is anywhere in the Tokyo/Osaka/Kyoto area that would be worth making a special trip to Japan for, but there are some palms around. I saw a nice Butia in downtown Tokyo...but like Dick said, the street names are a mystery. I also saw a large Washingtonia either in Nara or Osaka, can't remember exactly. And on the train from Osaka to Nara we went by a place that had a row of large (20+ feet tall) palms that I'm nearly certain were Phoenix, it was a bit of distance, and it seemed impossible, but they really looked like Phoenix canariensis.

Keep your eyes open.

Matt

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JasonD

I'm hoping to visit Yakushima, the island just south of Kyushu that is the wettest place in Japan, where ancient Cryptomeria trees grow in the mountains and mangos down by the seashore. In winter, the 6000ft+ mountaintops are snow-capped. It sounds dramatic. Maybe there will be some palms there. I've heard Livistona chinensis has naturalized in parts of Japan.

I've seen pictures of Trachys and Butias in Tokyo. Seems like it has a Norfolk, VA, climate.

They're in for a typhoon tomorrow.

Can't wait to take the trains everywhere, including Shinkansen. I love a decent public transit system. I'll bring a pointing book, with pictures of necessary items I can point to when I run out of my five Japanese words and can't find anyone who speaks English.

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PalmGuyWC

Jason,

We are anxiously waiting on your report from Japan, which some great pictures, I hope.

Dick

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Dave-Vero

A Sabal on a busy Kyoto street?

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Rhapis, Koda Tei garden in Kyoto. "KodaTei. The Stone garden of A-un. The stone garden which represents the truth of the universe. The main stones on both were replaced from Jurakudri built by Hideyoshi To... "A-un" means inhale and exhale, heaven and earth, positive and negative or male and female. and those are inseparable from each other and show the truth of the universe and the essence of Zen." (sign at the edge of the photo)

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Dave-Vero

parking lot Trachy at Koryuji Temple. Here's a larger version of the photo.

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John Dowe's recent revision of Livistona gives L. chinensis a substantial range in southern Japan. PDF link by Carlo Morici in the Spanish language forum!

Kyoto has so many gardens, you have to accept that more will be missed than seen. The Zen gardens of the Daitoku-ji complex are wonderful. Ryoanji is perhaps over-hyped, but the lushness of the grounds has to be seen to be appreciated. Perfect (huge) pond, moss, trees... The famous stone garden is an unvegetated rectangle in the midst of it all.

If you can possibly get to see Katsura Imperial Villa, do it.

There's a cluster of fine gardens around the grand Nanzen-ji temple. Easy access by subway.

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JasonD

Reporting back, in a jet-lagged state, so please excuse typos, etc.

Here's a Trachycarpus wagnerianus in front of the apartment building where I stayed in Tokyo's Nakano District. There were tons of beautiful T. wagnerianus and T. fortunei throughout Tokyo, as well as endless Rhapis, mostly humilis/multifida type, but also plentiful variegated excelsa types. Most Rhapis in Tokyo are potted, though I did see in-ground specimens. T. fortunei grow as weeds at Meiji-jingu, one of the most important historic/cultural sites in Tokyo.

What struck me was how green they all were. Very few exhibited the yellow-tipping we see in California. Is it richer soils? Plentiful rainfall? Hot summer/cold winter swings? Trachys in Portland and Seattle also tend to look nicer than those in California.

Also saw more Citrus and other warm-temperate/subtropical species like this Nephrolepis than I expected in Tokyo. I'd guess its annual temperature range is comparable to Wilmington, NC, or Charleston, SC.

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JasonD

Here's my host, Jared, next to a Trachycarpus fortunei volunteer in what we might call a parking strip. in Tokyo and other cities in Japan, almost every decent-size avenue has nice plantings along the sidewalks. Trees are pruned very carefully: not always to my Western tastes, but care goes into almost every tree you see. These ginkgos are made almost fastigiate. They grow much taller and are pruned much better than in San Francisco, but I'd like to see wider canopies for shade from the ferocious summer heat.

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JasonD

Neighborhood shrines are ubiquitous -- a bit like in Italy. This one is a block from where I was staying. They are mostly Shinto shrines, representing the national religion that came into vogue after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, though some are Buddhist. Shrines provide a home for beautiful older trees. I saw a lot of trees I could not identify; fortunately, the Japanese like to put identifying labels on trees, and my Japanese friend could translate for me from digital pix of the labels.

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JasonD

Cycas revoluta is quite popular, too. Here's a Trachycarpus wagnerianus accompanied by a sago.

The scale of Tokyo is surprisingly livable for such a giant (30mil+ population) city. After the US firebombed the it during WWII, Tokyoites rebuilt on the old, medieval streetscape, so much of it remains very small-scale and dense, with narrow, twisting streets lined with tiny 2-4-story houses and interspersed with tall, big apartment buildings. While many areas feel like downtown LA or Times Square, within a couple of blocks of a busy 20-line rail station, you'll find intimate neighborhoods. Every spare space is given some greenery, too, with potted plants and even in-ground plantings in foot-wide strips. My friend Jared is studying the way Tokyo incorporates green spaces into its intense urbanity: http://tokyogreenspace.wordpress.com/.

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JasonD

This neighborhood flower shop offers Rhapis humilis and a variegated Rhapis excelsa. Prices were pretty reasonable. I think the variegated was 4800 yen (about US$50), and the R. humilis were going for 7800 ($85 or so). Considering that this is probably the highest-mark-up type of retail outlet, it's not outrageous compared to San Francisco.

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JasonD

Some pretty rare and exotic flora were available in these tiny neighborhood shops. This looks like a Haemanthus albiflos, or a related member of the Amaryllidaceae.

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JasonD

Trachycarpus fortunei, planted (or self-sown) in groups, look pretty good, even these unpruned specimens (unusual for Tokyo!).

The second photo portrays a group planting in a park next to the train station in Nakano, Tokyo.

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JasonD

Cactus tree! Plus potted variegated Rhapis.

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JasonD

Tenth-floor balcony garden. View. 400sq ft apartment, fits 2-4 people.

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JasonD

A couple of view shots...the twin towers are Tokyo's city hall.

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JasonD

Trachycarpus wagnerianus double, squoze tight next to a tiny two-story house.

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JasonD

Nice succulent collection!

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JasonD

Trachycarpus fortunei seedlings grow in the understory of Meiji-jingu, one of the most important shrines in Tokyo. Fancy weddings were taking place when we visited. The camphor trees (Cinnamonum camphora) are magnificent.

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JasonD

Trachys galore -- almost a hedge. OK, so my point is made: Tokyo's full of Trachys. Almost every tree (conifers especially) is beautifully pruned. Conifers, deciduous trees, broadleaf evergreens, palms -- they mix 'em up there, and they look good. Third photo shows part of the Imperial Palace compound.

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JasonD

First close-up Phoenix canariensis on the Inland Sea (Seto Nai Kai) near the city of Okayama. Second and third pics show the golden beach below, lined with Livistona chinensis.

I first saw canaries just south of Tokyo on the coastline from the windows of the bullet train (Shinkansen). It surprised me that the coastline just south of Tokyo was so mild.

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JasonD

The third palm zone I visited was Yakushima, a mountainous island about 75km south of Kyushu, the southern large island. It's the wettest place in Japan, a 1900m granite mountain planted in the midst of the Kuroshio, the warm Japan Current (the North Pacific's equivalent of the Gulf Stream). The lowest elevations contain a subtropical evergreen forest dominated by oaks and their relatives, with native camellias, gardenias, Pittosporum tobira, hoya, tree ferns, bamboos, and raphiolepis. Andrew Henderson's book lists Livistona chinensis as native, and, judging by how it thrives there, I believe him.

Other palms I saw on the island included lots of Archontophoenix alexandrae, Trachycarpus fortunei, Phoenix roebelenii, a few Dypsis decaryi, Washingtonia robusta, a couple of Dypsis lutescens, plus Howea belmoreana and H. forsteriana.

Interestingly, Cycas revoluta is native to Kyushu and the neighboring island of Tanegashima, but not Yakushima. I did see nice robust specimens on Yaku, though.

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Dave-Vero

Wonderful photos. Korakuen garden in central Tokyo seems to have a self-sustaining population of trachys. Maybe Hamarikyu, too.

At Rikugien, also a feudal lord's garden, I noticed a beautifully trimmed, huge, broadleafed evergreen tree occupying a choice spot near the lake. It took me a minute or two to realize that it was a Southern Magnolia, a familiar native tree in northern Florida. Later, I saw them in serious Zen gardens, as well as (badly pruned) at private homes.

Yamaguchi Ube Airport has a lot of landscaping palms, including Washingtonias. It all looked too young to judge whether it'll look good later on. But the palms do make the point about the mild climate.

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jayfro6

Thanks for sharing the pictures from your trip. I was very interested to see the camphor trees at home in Japan. Those are nice ones.

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DoomsDave

Jason!

Wonderful pictures!

More, more.

ITAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII . . . . :)

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peachy

Fascinating and lovely photos. What can one say but

origato.

Peachy

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Mark_NoVA

Great photos, very interesting! Thanks very much.

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