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Friday, Aug. 8, 2008

Matsuya plugs environment with rooftop garden in Ginza


Staff writer

Holding a harvest festival in midsummer at a major department store in Tokyo's glitzy Ginza district may sound surreal, but Matsuya Co. did just that Thursday to fete a crop of fresh veggies grown on the rooftop of its flagship store.

News photo
Store grown: An employee at a Matsuya Co. department store picks up a tomato grown on its roof Thursday in Tokyo's Ginza district. YOSHIAKI MIURA PHOTOS

Growing vegetables ranging from tomatoes and pumpkins to okra and cucumbers is a part of the Ginza Green Project, an effort launched in May to green 152 sq. meters of roof space with grass and crops to reduce temperatures in Tokyo.

It also supports the Ginza Honey Bee project, which lets companies in the area promote coexistence with nature through use of the honey, by giving the bees access to Matsuya's rooftop garden.

Ginza Green is part of the company's efforts to take action on environmental issues. "Greening" rooftops has become a trendy way in urban areas to ease the "heat-island effect" in summer, which raises the temperatures of the concrete, urban jungle.

The Matsuya project is run by about 30 Matsuya employees who tend to the urban patch as an after-work volunteer activity.

News photo
Chow time: Shoji Hirota, executive chef at Hotel Seiyo Ginza, serves curry made for a harvest festival at the Matsuya department store in Tokyo's Ginza district, with two Matsuya employees.

"It is great to see people becoming more aware of environmental issues. Each person takes action and hopefully that will spread to other people," said Shinpei Kono, who heads the project team.

At the festival, the project members teamed up with neighbors to cook curry using the vegetables harvested from the rooftop plot.

"It's also been great that we've had the opportunity to communicate with staff members from different sections, as well as interact with people in neighboring buildings," Kono said. "It really feels like we are making contribution to the community."

Matsuya employee Eri Tomiyama, 23, said the scorching weather made it really difficult to nurture the vegetables.



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