On the transit-oriented development of Musashikoyama Palm, Japan

Was having one of those sentimental, quick trips down memory lane when I came across one of the things I rendered back in 2015.

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On pic is the integrated map showcasing a serial vision and facade of Musashikoyama Palm Shotengai in Shinagawa, Tokyo.

Japan is littered with and also aesthetically known through these commercial districts named shotengai. While these districts come in various sizes and form, they are usually structured as wide roofed streets (or “arcades” if we are going with the technical term) spanning hundreds of meters connected to the nearest train station.

However, what is commendable about Palm is the combined effect of its strategic size amounting to 635 meters (therefore the longest in Japan) as well as its location having been laid out away from the station.

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The satellite image above shows the entire length of the shotengai marked in red.

Ultimately, what this means for the ward of Shinagawa is that the arcade is not a mere hub whose economic activity is focused on the immediate vicinity of the station, which is oftentimes the scenario in many planned cases of transit-oriented development. Rather, in the case of Palm, it actually serves as a spine that extends all the way even to the much farther blocks of residential areas, thereby giving the much needed and more aptly distributed benefits of a bustling street life and livelihood support.

Clearly, we also need to consider the same for us here in the Philippines and it is good that efforts are already underway to improve not only the number and quality of infrastructure, but also the interconnectivity thereof.

Bird Walks: From Metro Manila to Tokyo

While I’m not exactly a birder like my friend Yui, I was nevertheless looking forward to our trip to Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park.

As surprising as it may sound, both my home institution, Ateneo de Manila University, and the neighboring University of the Philippines-Diliman are actually recommended sites for amateur birders located just within the vicinity of the metropolis.

Bird walks are organized periodically in both institutions; in addition, one might be delighted to discover that the latter also offers bird watching as one of its many course choices (as many as 100+) for Physical Education.

Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU)

Known for having one of the more beautiful campus grounds in the country with a lot area of 83 hectares, ADMU is home to 43 bird species as of 2011 count done by the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines (WBCP). Resident birds amount to 36, of which 30 are endemic while 7 are migratory.

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The terrain is elevated at some points owing to the original hilly landscape where the university now lies. As seen on the map, trees line the streets and the vegetation becomes more dense towards the eastern side of the campus that actually overlooks a valley. Being more forested and untamed, this area grew overtime to be the university’s unofficial wildlife sanctuary as well as the favorite spot of bird watchers.
In fact, just last school year on the month of July, the university held its most recent batch of bird walks in celebration of the Ignatian Festival in honor of the school’s patron, St. Ignatius.

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The latest series of bird walks as sponsored by the Ateneo Institute of Sustainability

Some of the birds seen in the campus include the following (for the name, just hover over the image):

University of the Philippines-Diliman (UPD)

Meanwhile, with a staggering lot area of 493 hectares, UPD abounds with mini forests dotted around the campus. As of 2013, the university is home to 113 bird species, of which 109 are endemic, resident, and migratory while the remaining 4 are introduced and escapees.

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Knowing Yui, who’s a long-time avid birder, I know she would especially love it here as this open university town (think of it as like University of Tsukuba) is teeming with its own extensive wildlife set against one of the last remaining vestiges of the country’s urban forests. In addition, unlike in ADMU, bird watching can happen anywhere with birds spotted even around the busiest of areas such as the Main Library owing to the density of the forest ecosystem on campus.

Below, I have listed some of the birds verified by WBCP.

Tokyo Port Wild Bird Park

The park hosts 22 endemic bird species here in Japan, which is rather commendable considering that this is a reclaimed area.

Just last week, our class together with some friends from ANT461 (also under Professor Watanabe) went to the park after lunch and it was good knowing that the weather was clear and fair. From Yotsuya station, we took off for Ryutsu Center Station along the Tokyo Monorail line going to Haneda Airport. From there, the park is just a 15-minute walk.

While I know that Tokyo has its fair share of green patches, it still feels surreal as I am typing this right now to know that a bird sanctuary like this actually exists close by a busy airport. It’s a sharp contrast that leaves one in a dreamlike state upon entering the nature reserve, as if a switch had been turned on.

Some of the fauna that I could remember include:

Note: Pictures not mine. Close-up of the birds are not the actual shots.