The other day, staff writer Mami Maruko, Japan Times, brought an amazing story about a Mr Jens Jensen, danish do it yourself crusader, who is in the process of introducing the "wonderfull concept of the danish kolonihave" to Japan's Kanagawa landscape. If he succeeds, that will be the end of Kanagawa as we know and love it.
If Mami chan would have taken the effort to look up the word 'kolonihave' ( 'allotment gardens' in english and 'schrebergärten' in german) she would have found nothing attractive about the concept, let alone applauding Jensen-kun for introducing this sad, dark, powerty-smelling side from the beggining of European Industrialism.
Originally called 'fattighaver' (powertygardens) kolonihaver were small parcels of government land rented to city dwelling working class, hunger stricken families as a means to grow vegetables and an extra source to feed their many children.
Additionally by 1890's the breakneck industrialization in all major European cities created overpopulated, dark, tuberculoses-ridden slums, where the only escape was the greenery of the 300-400 sq.m. kolonihave. Denmark had 20,000 kolonihaver in 1907 and and over 100,000 by 1949. In the following years these powertygardens changed character from vegetables to planting flowers and grass but never got rid of their image of poor working-class 'green-slums'.
Not until the 1990's when they became a bit fashionable among pot-smoking ecology freaks, trying to grow cannabis among the tomato- and cucumber camouflage. Needless to say with little luck since artificial light is needed in the danish climate to grow potent cannabis. We think that Jensen-kun and Japan Times should take their kolonihave concept to somewhere more fitting than Odawara.
To the slums of Manilla or Mumbai for example.
By Gabor Fabricius
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