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In his Nov. 27 article, “Tokyo’s urban design role,” Jared Braiterman paints a very glowing and cheery picture of the integration of urbanism and nature in Tokyo. While I agree that many Tokyo residents show ingenuity in their use of mostly tiny available spaces for propagation of plants, projects such as the Ginza Honey Bee Project and the Ginza Farm can only be seen as token and effete — unless they are replicated on such a large scale that they alter the scope of many residents’ daily lives.

I’ve lived here for a long time, and my overriding impression has been of relentless construction as buildings pop up like mushrooms on remaining scraps and pockets of land. In my neighborhood of Kugayama, west Tokyo, this activity continues apace. Here, at the quiet and leafy downstream section of an Edo Period waterway, the Tamagawa Josui is under threat of being straddled by twin-lane roads — a Tokyo Metropolitan Government scheme. If this comes to pass, a much-loved local zone of tranquillity will be wrecked. With such retrogressive plans in the offing, I can’t share Braiterman’s optimism for Tokyo as a model for a new balance between people and nature.

guy exley

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