Noguchi’s Moerenuma Park at Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
When sculptor Isamu Noguchi was commissioned by the Sapporo Municipal Government in 1988 to create a park at the location of what was once a 189 hectres of land used as a waste treatment plant,he had something else in mind. He did not create a park that everyone expected to be, instead he created space, air, freedom, nature, art- he created what was considered as the one of the best sculpture he ever made.
Sadly, within the same year, after completing Moerenuma Park masterplan Noguchi passed away in New York. Though he did not see the fulfillment of his dream, the construction proceeded without changing any of the sculptor’s vision.
A few minutes walk, I reached the most prominent symbol of the park- the Glass Pyramid “Hidamari”. Considered as one complete sculpture, the pyramid houses a gallery introducing Isamu Noguchi works, a coffee shop, information desk for a guide map around the area and an atrium for an overlooking view.
I wondered what it feels like to live in a glass house, where each space is filled with natural sunlight and if you move closely towards the wall, a double reflection of the sky and the marshland is what you get.
When Mr.Noguchi planned the park, he has kids in his mind. So he designed a playground where equipment are built like pieces of the puzzle. He envisioned that kids will get tired using one ride and because of this they will start to run around the park in search for a new one. He build a playground inside a Forest of Cherry Trees, a fairytale land of adventure and nature.
During summer, the concentration of visitors are seen around the artificial beach called Moere Beach- a shallow pond on a cone shaped site surrounded by prominades. I think the idea of a beach inside a park is quite clever, as if giving visitors reason to brave the heat, spend a day outdoor instead of staying at malls or home.
Thirty meters in height, the pathway towards Play Mountain is quite a poetic vision. As if when you traverse the path and reach the peak, you will find some answer to whatever question you had in mind.
Surrounded by circle of trees and situated almost at the center of the park is the 48m Sea Fountain. During my visit, the fountain not operational so I settled on just admiring the surrounding trees and a glimpse of sunlight.
This has to be the top reason on what makes Moerenuma Park one of a kind. Let’s assume for a moment that when Noguchi was given the job to create a park, he did played God for a while and created a mountain.
Sixty meters tall and now considered as the only mountain landmark in the entire northeastern Sapporo, I would like to officially add Mt. Moere on the mountains I climbed in Japan (if a man-made mountain can be counted in).
With five different routes to reach the summit, climbing Mt. Moere for me is comparable to a scene on a strange dream, where the only things I can see are stone staircases, trees, sky, birds and nothing else.
Though the weather was not the I one I hope it would be, it did not hindered me to enjoy my walks around the park where I often find myself alone. There were only a handful of tourists who braved the gloomy weather and the busy park maintenance staffs cleaning the Aqua Plaza canal.
Mr. Noguchi will be so proud of his creation if only he had the chance to see the finished product. Nonetheless, I thank him and the government of Sapporo for sharing his vision to the rest of us for FREE. Yes, admission is free.