In Japan, a Competition Transforms Truck Beds Into Garden Beds
As the world adapts to pandemic life, we’ve seen creativity heroically emerge, in nearly every sector, amid limitations. One big idea to sprout from restrictions, started in 2016, that’s perfectly suited for this moment: Japan’s annual Kei Truck Garden Contest in Osaka, which brings nature closer to city-dwellers in the form of compact, foliage-filled creations. (The date for this year’s event has yet to be announced.)
This competition challenges members in various branches of the Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors to build a green space on the back of a “kei,” or kei-tora, a small flat-bed truck that’s often used to ferry lawn and garden gear to local work sites. To create a sense of drama, participants construct their patches of plants at a designated site mere hours before a jury arrives to assess each environment’s planning, design, and execution. Over the years, gardeners have managed to squeeze an increasingly sophisticated array of features into their tiny plots, including bamboo pergolas, shoji screens, mossy rock formations, and cascading streams. The final works, lined up along streets for public viewing, are a poetic demonstration of how to flourish in the face of constraint.