ISAMU NOGUCHI ONE LAST DREAM : MOERENUMA PARK SAPPORO

MOERENUMA PARK SAPPORO JAPAN
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ISAMU NOGUCHI ONE LAST DREAM

Isamu Noguchi dedicated over six decades of his life to creating mostly stone sculptures as a way of exploring organic and geometric abstract forms.  His language was a synthesis of traditional Japanese art and the biomorphic style that was an important part of Surrealism.  His artwork can be found in museums across the world and his designs appear in a popular series of lamps, furniture and occasionally architecture.  Noguchi’s work was driven by a passionate desire to create art that the public could use in social spaces.  This dream was realized in multiple ways – public projects such as gardens, playgrounds and fountains; and sculptural manipulations of the natural landscape.  Noguchi saw the earth itself as a medium for sculpture.  He felt that the spirit of creativity that inspired early humans had developed as a way for them to control of their spiritual existence. In other words, to arrange your inner landscape you must sculpt your outer landscape.


ISAMU NOGUCHI SCULPTURE
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ORIGINS OF A UTOPIAN PHILOSOPHY

Noguchi advocated for sculpture to be a larger and more universal discipline, wanting to create art that was relevant to everyday people. These goals lead him away from academic sculpture to conceive of monumental landscape projects. His lesser-known works include monuments, playgrounds, and gardens.

In his autobiography, Noguchi described his guilt at his mother’s financial struggles. He felt that this challenge caused him to identify and associate with the working class.  He believed that an artist’s life is inherently lonely, and from this solitude one is able to produce work.

Noguchi’s artist statement written on the application for the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship IN 1926 expressed a wish to redefine the relationship of man and nature.


It is my desire… to ignore man as an object for special veneration. There must be unthought-of heights of beauty to which sculpture may be raised by this reversal of attitude. An unlimited field for abstract sculptural expression would then be realized in which flowers and trees, rivers and mountains, as well as birds, beasts and man would be given their due place…

ISAMU NOGUCHI 1926


ISAMU NOGUCHI LAST
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MOERENUMA PARK SAPPORO
The grand opening of Moerenuma Park in 2005 arrived seventeen years after the death of its visionary – Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988)  Moerenuma Park is the final and largest project by the artist.  Moerenuma Park is the crown jewel of the “Circular Greenbelt Concept” in Sapporo.  By linking the various green spaces across the city of Sapporo within a loop the city could be more easily explored and appreciated.  It began in 1977 as a reclamation project of the former Moere Landfill and nearby Moere Marsh – an effort to undue short-sighted human errors made at a time when environmental impact carried little significance.  From this initial goal of reclaim it grew into a broader vision by 1982 defined by the project named Sapporo “Circular Greenbelt Concept” .  After several more years the committee reached out to Isamu Noguchi to pen a masterplan that would lift the concept to greater heights.
Moerenuma Park Sapporo
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Sculptor Isamu Noguchi created a masterplan based on the concept of “the whole being a single sculpture.”  Within Moerenuma Park the fountain and hills are geometric shapes rising periodically from the vast expanse of land.  Visiting the park for the first time one is struck by the enormous spatial sense.  Forms are always approached from a distance – usually long winding paths – allowing the monumental forms to be appreciated as pure shapes first.  Structural details of buildings and landscape plots only becoming visible on closer inspection.  No matter where you are in the park the view points are magnificent.

MOERENUMA PARK SAPPORO
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When one reaches the top of the glass pyramid structure a 360° view of Sapporo unfolds before your eyes.  A similar experience can be felt once one has scaled Mount Moere from one of five pathways.  It is but one of many feelings of awe one feels on the journey through Moerenuma Park.  Noguchi has cleverly designed a way for urban dwellers to find the time in their urban lives – the right moment – to  re-attach themselves to the natural world.  It is a thing of beauty and marks Moerenuma Park as one of the great museums in the world.  Past sins have been conquered and new heights reached in the synthesis of man-made order with the natural world.  It is as if here, Noguchi has fused art to nature.

Moerenuma Park Sapporo
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The transformation of the Moere landfill to art park was an admirable about face for the Sapporo from a nature conservation perspective.  Noguchi though pushed one step further still by desinging an air-conditioning system to be installed in the Glass Pyramid that uses the natural, region-specific energy of snow to fuel the park facility year round.
Whatever time of year you can go – do go.  Sakura (Cherry blossoms) bloom in the spring, and the fountain and wading pool facilities provide for a refreshing cool-down during a hot Sapporo summer.  Fall casts a colorful display of forest foliage and in the heart of winter cross-country skiing and sledding are absolutely exhilarating on the snow-blanketed landscape

“The whole park is a sculpture”

ISAMU NOGUCHI on MOERENUMA PARK

ISAMU NOGUCHI HOKKAIDO
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GLASS PYRAMID HIDAMARI

Serving as the symbol of Moerenuma Park, Glass Pyramid is the central facility of this park that is considered to be one complete sculpture. Filled with sunlight, the atrium overlooks the park and creates an expansive space for rest and relaxation that is integrated with nature. This facility accommodates a gallery introducing sculptor Isamu Noguchi with visuals and books, a multi-purpose space that serves as a place for citizens cultural activities, restaurants, shops, etc. It is a place of exchanges, recreation and relaxation for many visitor, irrespective of the weather or the season.

GLASS PYRAMID Green Powered Air Conditioning PDF file


MOERENUMA PARK SAPPORO JAPAN
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SEA FOUNTAIN

During the creation of the park’s basic plan, Isamu Noguchi revealed, “I have been studying fountains all my life”, and thus sketched a large 48-meter fountain in the center of the park. Created in reference to a similar fountain in Miami’s Bayfront Park which closely resembles Noguchi’s vision, the Sea Fountain can also be called “a sculpture of water”. At its maximum height the fountain can reach 25 meters. The dynamic momentum and flow of water portrays the birth of life and the heavens above, giving the entire park a feeling of life.


MOERENUMA PARK SAPPORO HOKKAIDO
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FOREST OF CHERRY BLOSSOMS

This is a green zone that includes seven Play Equipment Areas, A through G, which are interconnected by paths. All of the play equipment pieces were designed by Isamu Noguchi and are beautiful enough to be called sculptures. Children get absorbed in their playing and then tire of it. When they find different play equipment pieces in the forest, however, they start running toward them. Isamu Noguchi seems to have accurately depicted this scene.


ISAMU NOGUCHI PARK
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MOERE BEACH

A shallow pond from Isamu Noguchi’s planar form is installed in the middle of this gentle, cone-shaped site surrounded by promenades. This pond, which envisions beautiful seashore, is paved with coral. The water springs forth from three outlets in the pond and disappears on its own while making ripples. The delighted voices of children resonate here in summer.


MOUNT MOERE

Similar to the Play Mountain and Glass Pyramid, the 62-meter tall Mt. Moere constitutes a key form in the entire park as well as the only mountain landmark in the northeastern area of the city of Sapporo. Mt. Moere can be climbed from three directions and five different routes. >From its summit, you can overlook not only the entire Moerenuma Park, but the entire city of Sapporo. In winter, visitors can enjoy skiing and sledding on the mountain, making this mountain one of the main attractions for visiting the park in winter.


MOERENUMA PARK SAPPORO HOKKAIDO
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TETRA MOUND

The Tetra mound is a simple, dynamic form that consists of a triangular pyramid (13meters in height), composed of stainless steel columns, two meters in diameter, and a grassy mound. The stainless steel surface that was completed to resemble Isamu Noguchi’s fountain works in Detroit shows different expressions with changes in lighting. The adjoining square is used for events and other purposes.


Moerenuma Park Sapporo
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AQUA PLAZA

Water springs forth from Aqua Plaza and slowly flows into the approximately 150 meter long canal. Streams are shallow, allowing visitor to dangle their feet and come in contact with water. Although it can be referred to as an extension of “California Scenario”. Isamu Noguchi’s garden piece, the water and stone square surrounded by two large mountains can also be viewed as the epitome of Sapporo.


MUSIC SHELL

The entire area of this hemispheric structure is a stage approximately 15 meters in diameter, where performances, such as concerts and dancing, are held. Inside the building are anterooms for performers and restrooms. The symbolic shape was designed to direct focus on the landscape at the foot of Play Mountain.


CHRONOLOGY OF PARK CONSTRUCTION

1977  Commencement of Land acquisition of the waste disposal site with the aim of turning it into a park.

1979  Beginning of Moere Landfill with non-combustible waste. (-1990). Beginning of construction and Moere Marsh dredging as part of a river project for comprehensive flood-control measures for the Fushiko River (-1992)

1981  Development of “(former) Moerenuma Park basic design.”

1982  Commencement of construction on the park foundations. Establishment of “basic plan for (former) Sapporo Green” The “Circular Greenbelt Concept” is raised.

1988  July, Involvement of Isamu NOGUCHI in the Moerenuma Park construction plan.November, Completion of New Master plan.December, Death of Isamu NOGUCHI at age 84.

1989  Beginning of construction according to Isamu NOGUCHI? s master plan.

1998  Soft opening of Moerenuma Park.

2005  Grand opening of Moerenuma Park.


MOERENUMA PARK
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ISAMU NOGUCHI  1904-1988

FURTHER READING:

For an intelligent and fascinating account of the artistic journey taken by Isamu Noguchi read

ISAMU NOGUCHI’S UTOPIAN LANDSCAPES by Diana T Witcher, Alex DeArmond & Dr. Andrew Williams


MOERENUMA PARK SAPPORO GENERAL INFORMATION

ADDRESS:  Moerenuma-koen 1-1, Higashi-ku, Sapporo

OPEN:   All Year

HOURS:  7:00-22:00 (Park entrance closed at 21:00)

ADMISSION:   Free

PARKING:   Free

WEBSITE:   CLICK

TEL:   011-790-1231

TRAIN ACCESS:  

Via New Chitose Airport.
90-min. flight from Tokyo to New Chitose Airport.
36-min. train ride and 70-min. bus ride from New Chitose Airport to JR Sapporo Station.

New Chitose Airport

JR Trains
“Rapid Airport Express” departs from New Chitose Airport for JR Sapporo Station every 15- min. and takes 36-min.
Fares: Adults 1,070 yen / Children 530 yen.

Timetable (JR Hokkaido)

BUS ACCESS:  

  1. From the subway Toho Line “Kanjo dori higashi” (25-min. ride)
    • Chuo Bus [higashi 69] to “Ainosato kyoikudai eki”, get off at “Moerenuma koen higashiguchi (east entrance)”
    • Chuo Bus [higashi 79] to “Nakanuma Shogakko dori”, get off at “Moerenuma koen higashiguchi (east entrance)”
  2. From subway Namboku Line “Kita sanjuyo jo” / Toho line “Shindo higashi” (30min. / 20min. ride)
    Chuo Bus [Higashi 76] to “Shogakko dori”, get off at “Moerenuma koen Nishiguchi (west entrance)*”
  3. The seasonal bus service to Moerenuma Park in the summer runs to all parts of the city, including “Bus Center”, “Asabu”, and others.