Interiors: Flower power

Bring your gloomy flat back to life with seasonal flowers. Carlo Niederberger digs up the best buds.

The red parrot's dramatic color is reminiscent of its namesake

With its polluted air, frenzied schedules and cramped living spaces, Tokyo is tough ground for cultivating and keeping flowers both indoors and on stunted balconies and shadowed windowsills. But with hanami just behind us and tulips decorating Omotesando, it's time to join the TMG and get into the swing of spring. While you can usher out the chill with a spiffy new trench coat or designer umbrella, surrounding yourself with fragrant blossoms—both at home and in the office—lifts the spirits.

You don't have to be an ikebana sensei or even have a green thumb to keep this season's flowers at their blooming best. Shinsuke Morishige, whose father, Yoshitaka, owns The Flower Company in Kasuga, has been pruning and preening practical indoor plants and flowers for the past three years and has plenty of advice for neophyte florists.
In gardening as in fashion, this season sees a number of perennial favorites and growing trends blooming across the city, says Morishige. From city streets to subway stations, Tokyo's tulips are already in full flourish. Morishige recommends this hardy bulb as spring's best indoor flower—pick a pot of your own from a range of colors and styles, including yurizaki, yaezaki, French tulip and parrotsaki, most of which are grown in Niigata Prefecture. Tulips should be watered as frequently as possible, but can survive with fresh water once or twice a week, or even every 10 days, according to Morishige.

Other low-maintenance bulbs sure to add some color to your cubicle or chambers include daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses. But Morishige's favorites are lily of the valley (suzuran) and Narcissus (suisen), which bloom from January through March. The best part about these bulbs may be the way they give back—simply dig them out at the end of the season and store them in a dry environment until the following year, when you can replant them.

Should you choose to surround yourself with blooms both indoors and out, the options just keep growing. Tokyoites have long favored such sturdy stems as philodendrons and rubber plants. But those looking for a little color can try the viola (pangy), a delicate flower most often found in purple, white and pink. "These flowers look nice when aligned in a bunch," says Morishige. Other decorative blossoms favored by the Morishige household include hydrangea (ajisai), laurel (gekkeishu), geraniums and maple (momiji ).
But the trend that truly seems to be taking off this year is home-grown herbs. "These herbs are quite strong and resistant," says Morishige, citing rosemary, basil and mint as the most popular. "Some use them for cooking or to make herbal teas. Others take advantage of their scent and use them for aromatherapy purposes."

Above all, Morishige says plants and flowers are meant to be enjoyed. "We hoped to introduce a concept whereby flowers are seen not as a glamorous accompaniment to weddings, funerals and extravagant events, but rather as the simple, everyday decorations and gifts as they are everywhere else in the world," says the florist, who spent many years in Europe and the US before setting up shop in Tokyo.
Whatever your preference, Tokyo is teeming with green thumbs willing to help. Check out the following florists to get your garden growing.

The Flower Company
From elegant, European-style flower arrangement to the conventional, solitary blossoms, The Flower Company provides all the goods and services that constitute a true floral haven. Bouquets, bridal flower designs, floral products, imported gardening tools and related miscellaneous items are all available for your every need.
3F Metro M Bldg, 1-2-3 Kasuga, Bunkyo-ku. Tel: 03-5684-0871. Nearest stn: Korakuen

U.Goto Florist
With over 400 square meters of floor space, U.Goto Florist hosts all kinds of floral goods, from bushes trimmed to look like puppies, to arches made of ivy, on top of the multitude of arrangements and seasonal flowers to choose from. In fact, the space allows the store to host Welcome Baby, an event featuring Anne Marie de Portu discussing table setting, with the psychedelic grandeur in the background, until April 13.
5-1-3 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 10am-8pm weekdays and Saturdays, 10am-6pm Sundays and holidays. Tel: 03-3408-8211. Nearest stn: Roppongi.

Hana Plenty Buying flowers is relatively expensive in Japan, but Hana Plenty—an emporium of more than 100 different kinds of seasonal flowers at reasonable prices—offers the chance to deck yourself out in blooms without breaking the bank. Small plants start as low as ¥100. Flower-arrangement classes and aromatherapy sessions are provided on the second floor. 1-16-2 Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku, 11am-9pm daily. Tel: 03-5728-8701. Nearest stn: Ebisu

Zukky Herb & Flower
With an interior mimicking the flower boutiques of the Paris suburbs, Zukky Herb & Flower only features flowers personally selected by the owner. Keen attention is paid to the shade and texture of each species, and everything from rare, imported flowers to plants bearing fruit is managed by the store. Arranging the items as gifts are the specialty here.
5-18-18 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, 11am-7:30pm weekdays, 11am-6pm weekends, holidays. Tel: 03-3209-5410. Nearest stn: Shinjuku

K Florist
Established in 1966, K Florist is housed in a quaint building built entirely by hand. Featured here is a selection of original bouquets arranged in nine different colors. Also exclusive to this store is an original gift selection, consisting of various artistically arranged floral patterns designed for both men and women, as well as imaginative creations using plants, candles and porcelain.
1-1-1 Minami Aoyama, Minato-ku, 10am-7pm, closed weekends. Tel: 03-3475-1186. Nearest stn: Omotesando

Prominent in Asakusakaen's floral repertoire are the flowers in season (sweet pea, peach, anemone and Margaret top the list for April), and flower arrangements are available in all fragrances and shades. Many species of conventional flowers are on sale for less than ¥500 per stem, allowing a presentable bouquet to materialize from even a relatively shallow purse.
3-2-1 Asakusa, Taito-ku, 10am-8pm, closed Sundays. Tel: 03-3875-5587. Nearest stn: Asakusa

Photos courtesy of The Flower Company

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Furniture Repair
from A to Z

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Ash 03-3770-3755
Clinique TCA
Club Boy Beau
Crunch 03-5459-123-
Dr. Allen Leroy Robinson
Hair Dressers Archecal 03-0449-6106
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Japan Electrolysis Clinic (Ginza)
Maiko Make Over Studio Shiki
My Boo Nail Salon 03-5428-1121
Neal's Yard Natural Therapy Center
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Sin Den
Takagi Skin Clinic
Tokyo Skin Clinic
Toni&Guy Japan 03-3797-5790
Watanabe Hair Dressing 03-3405-1188
Who Ga 03-5570-1773

Shibuya’s Zenmall (29-4 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku; 03-3770-1641), known for offering large clothing for men, is holding a two-day Early Bird Pre-Summer Sale. The sale will take place on the mornings of April 12 (Sat) and 13 (Sun) for three hours (9am-noon) each day. During these times, nearly everything will be marked 20-80 percent off. Some of the bargains include suits with a spare pair of pants for \9,800 (sizes 3-8L), and summer casual jackets for \8,000 (3-6L). Imported designer suits by makers like Calvin Klein and Boss are also marked down to \39,000 and \59,000, respectively. Those who spend over \10,000 can take part in the Cash Grabbing Contest, where shoppers can dig into a box full of cash. Spend over \30,000 for two chances to grab, and \50,000 for three. Don't miss this rare opportunity, as it could be one of the few chances for those looking to buy large sizes in Japan, especially at affordable prices.

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521: Child's play
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517: Personal Effects
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513: Seeing the light
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505: Lights of fancy
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501: Natural causes
493: Living rooms
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489: Living in the past
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485: Monochrome marvels
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481: Cut and paste
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477: Moss cause
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469: Ikebana for idiots
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466: A dyeing breed
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457: Party of five
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449: Thought out
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445: Design on Tokyo
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439: Setting pretty
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435: Tropical haven
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431: Wed white and blue
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427: Have a ball
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423: Collection point
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419: Flower power
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415: On the mend
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411: Phone home
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407: Launch Pad
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399: Interiors

395: Interiors
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387: Inner sanctum
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383: Life in style
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367: Wealthy workplaces
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364: Healthy homes
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