Tokyo Japan – Urban Farming – Veggies with a view
Architect-cum-urban-farmer Kazuki Iimura is turning Tokyo’s rooftops green. Photo by Melinda Joe
Kazuki Iimura takes gardening to a new level on Omotesando rooftops
By Melinda Joe
29 June, 2010
On the roof of a building in Omotesando overlooking the skyscrapers of Shinjuku, tomatoes and wild strawberries are flourishing, and meter-high beanstalks are starting to produce fat, green pods. This incipient harvest is thanks to Kazuki Iimura, founder of Omotesando Farm, an urban farming project designed to utilize some of Tokyo’s most abundant open spaces: rooftops.
Iimura started Omotesando Farm last September, after the success of his first urban agriculture venture, Ginza Farm, where he turned an abandoned plot of land along a Ginza side street into a functioning rice paddy, complete with animals such as frogs and ducks that contribute to a healthy micro-ecosystem.
With that project coming to a close this fall, he’ll be focusing on building more rooftop gardens in Shibaura, near Shiodome, and on top of a shopping center in Yokohama.
Architect of a reinvigorated land
The 35-year-old Iimura comes from a family of farmers in Ibaraki but had never planned on becoming a farmer himself. A trained architect, he worked for several years in real estate. He became interested in urban farming while working on a city revitalization project in rural Japan.
“I wanted to do something that would reinvigorate the farming industry and the land itself,” he explains.
Urban farming is on the rise worldwide, particularly in North America, Europe, and other parts of Asia like China and India. Iimura says that the number of people learning to grow vegetables in Japan is increasing, but the main problem is the lack of available space.
The idea of creating rooftop gardens came to him when he viewed the Tokyo cityscape from the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku.
“Looking at it from above, there’s nothing, just grey concrete,” he says.