For some years, I had the opportunity to spend months at a time in Tokyo. Long working hours and extended commutes meant walking home after nightfall. In the west Tokyo neighborhoods I lived in, I grew to admire the gardens I passed after dark, dimly but dramatically lit, full of shadows. Night walks have been a part of my life since I was a teenager. Living then on the edge of a city, I would often dare myself into solitary strolls. Bats dove for moths seeking streetlamps. Haloed beneath, the road shoulder told the story of escaped garden favorites living among native wildflowers. These memories resurfaced as I walked home through the outlying boroughs of Tokyo. There I marveled not only at the care given to small gardens but at the acceptance often shown native plants that had found their way into the beds.
Gardens are thought, skill, patience, luck, joy, and tolerance. Plants are our teachers as surely as libraries and deserve night visits as much as books encourage flashlights.
This is a small compilation of midnight portraits, taken over three seasons and four years, of common Japanese garden flora.