Get in touch with art and nature at this stunning outdoor sculpture park just outside of Sapporo.
A former landfill site, Sapporo’s Moerenuma has since been transformed into a stunning public park that intertwines the natural world with contemporary art. The dramatic transformation began in 1982 under the direction of Japanese-American sculptor and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, who designed the 400-acre project comprising dynamic sculptures, man-made mountains and a Louvre-like pyramid.
Under the “Circular Greenbelt Concept”, a city-planning ordinance to surround Sapporo City with greenery, Noguchi was commissioned to build a ring of parks on top of the municipal dumping grounds. Fast forward to its grand opening in 2005, this recreational space transcends its original framework. On a striking scale, the park merges the natural terrain (notably, the Moere Marsh) with a sustainable, and beautiful, urban design.
Mirroring Japan’s four seasons, Moerenuma Park’s scenery changes throughout the year. From the blooms of 3,000 cherry blossoms in the Forest of Cherry Trees during spring, the green covered hills of Mt. Moere (the grass pyramid) in the summer, the fall foliage of the ginkgo and maple trees in autumn, and the snow-covered landscape where visitors can rent cross-country skis and sleighs in winter, the park is a massive year-round playground.
The park is surrounded by Moerenuma (Moere Marsh), whose name — meaning “a slow flowing river” – is a nod to Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu. In the center stands the glass-paneled pyramid called the the Hidamari (“Sunny Spot”) Pyramid, an homage to Noguchi’s friend, famed architect I.M. Pei, who designed the glass pyramid at Paris’ Louvre Museum.
This three-story indoor facility houses a restaurant and museum shop on the ground floor, while the top floor offers visitors access to the Isamu Noguchi gallery.
Another attraction offering a sweeping view of the park is the Tetra Mound, a 13-meter triangular steel pyramid erected above an endless grassy lawn. This awe-inspiring landscape envisioned by Noguchi became the sculptor’s last posthumous work.