How green is your balcony?

June 10th, 2011 by Felicity Hughes

Sloping canopies of lush green leaves are slowly spreading their tendrils across Japan as a campaign to encourage homeowners to cultivate midori no ka-ten (green curtains) gathers pace. Though the Midori no Ka-ten NPO was founded back in December 2006, the energy crisis has encouraged a sudden growth spurt.

Midori no Ka-ten's website shows you how to plant a bitter melon green curtain on your veranda

The idea, which dates back to the Edo Period, is simple: Simply plant goya (bitter melon) or Japanese morning glory seeds in pots on your balcony, then train them up a net to form a natural green shade that significantly cuts down on the amount of heat entering the building. With a green curtain on the veranda, you’ll be a lot less likely to turn on the air con.

A quick search of Twitter revealed a number of tweeters enthusiastic about the campaign. @you_like_beer comments, “Goya is not only a green curtain but you can also eat (it) … wonderful.” The bitter tasting goya, a key ingredient in the Okinawan dish goya chanpuru, is not exactly to everyone’s taste, but it seems to be the favorite of the green curtain options.

Local governments are lending their support, according to Mainichi Shimbun. Akashi in Hyogo Prefecture, for example, is encouraging private citizens to pick up a trowel by distributing goya seeds free to citizens. Midori no Ka-ten are not just targeting private residences with their campaign, they’ve also been encouraging schools and government offices to plant green curtains. This summer Nishiwaki City in Hyogo Prefecture is installing 25 curtains in government offices and schools. The cost of the project is a mere ¥620,000.

The NPO is also lending a hand with the relief effort and is currently planting green curtains at 30,000 temporary housing units in areas hit by the tsunami. (And they’re currently taking donations; check their website for more details).

In addition to the green curtain campaign, there’ve been a few other inspired ideas for bringing some greenery into homes popping up lately, from manga farming to gardening in a book. Hopefully the future will see more and more greenery sprouting up through the urban jungle.

Comments are closed.


Recent Posts

  • Ginza Cozy Corner takes dessert into hyperdrive with ‘Star Wars’ cakes

    One Japanese confectionary vendor is about to find the Force deep within a sweet tie-up. Ahead of the December release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Ginza Cozy Corner, which has outlets nationwide, has made a line of “Star Wars” sweets that are truly out of this world. The treats themselves are all based on people […]

  • Warning: This viral video of high school girls might make you blush

    Cosmetic company Shiseido has recently uploaded a YouTube video that is blowing viewers’ minds with a bona fide twist. In the promo video, titled “High School Girl? — The Makeup Secrets of High School Girls,” the camera weaves through a classroom full of drop-dead cute young women who pout and wink like true pop idols. […]

  • Sharp dials up the fan service to celebrate 20 years of ‘Evangelion’

    For those who have always dreamed of owning an Evangelion robot, this might be the closest you get. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the popular “Neon Genesis Evangelion” animated series, Sharp is releasing a special smartphone that pays homage to the show both in the device’s hardware and software. The phone itself is detailed […]

  • Tokyo plugs into Google Play Music

    If you haven’t heard the latest news from Google Play, you may have missed your opportunity to tune into a Google Play Billboard. From Oct. 8-24, music lovers can head over to Shibuya to, literally, plug into a selection of over 3,500 songs. The Google Play Billboard is meant to give visitors a much-needed chance […]

  • J-blip: Ipsa’s Face Melody

    Every face has a name, a story and . . . a song? That’s the idea behind cosmetic company Ipsa’s newest creation. We should, uh, take it at face value, but the company claims that its Face Melody program can measure the user’s appearance and write a unique tune based on their attributes. The application […]

  • Japan celebrates the GIFs that keep on giving

    GIFs — which stands for graphics interchange format, don’t you know — have made the Internet an even more enjoyable place than before, and we have the receipts to prove it. These digital designs were technological wonders back in the days of AOL and Netscape (Google it, kids). But they eventually went from high-tech animation […]

  • Smart absolutions: Send off your sins with just one click

    The two-step method to purification.

  • Attack of the plant hunters, green carnivores and fleshy girls

    Never promised you a rose garden, but how about a fleshy plant or a stag-horn fern?

  • Make 12th-century art using 21st-century tech

    The Choju-Giga, the famed animal caricature ink paintings displayed Kyoto’s Kozan-ji Temple have been captivating people for centuries. The four scrolls, which date to the 12th and 13th centuries and depict rabbits and monkeys getting into mischief, are often cited as the first manga comics in Japan’s history. Now art lovers can create their own […]

  • Fuji Rock bound? Make sure you survive in style

    A few items that will help you stay dry and happy during Fuji Rock Festival’s unpredictable weather.