Saturday, May 14, 2011

Moernuma Park - The Great Outdoors

26th July, 2010 - The whole family was off to visit Moernuma Park, on the north-east of the city... a reasonable drive away. This is one of the more unusual parks, but much like many things in Sapporo, it' young, bold and just a little off-centre. It's also just across the road from Satoland, which I posted about just before.

View Sapporo

Now for those that don't have access to a car, you can take the Subway Toho Line to "Kanjo dori higashi" and transfer to"Higashi 69" or "Higashi 79*" bus on the Chuo Bus Kita Satsunae Line to "Moere koen higashiguchi(east entrance)" (directions thanks to here).

The park has an interesting story behind it... the park was originally, of all things, a garbage tip (to put it bluntly) - and a marshland. Not the sort of place that would immediately spring to mind when you think family day out. In the late 80's Sapporo had a bold plan for re-development of it's urban spaces, and part of that was for a large green-space, to replace what must have been a pretty dire place back then. They contracted the famous landscape artist and sculptor, Isamu Noguchi, to design the park. He developed his master design, based on the concept of park that was itself a complete sclupture... and completed his miniature sculpture in 1990. Alas he died of heart failure shortly after that, and hence the park was developed only from his initial plans. The park was finally completed in mid 2005 - a project taking over 15 years!

The park was originally a waste treatment site - and had processed some 2.7 million tonnes of garbage. One might well ask, where did all that garbage go? Hmmm.... I hesitate to say it, but the Mount Moere might be the first place I'd start looking. At around 62m in height, it provides an excellent vantage point, and a great place to roll-down if you're a child.

The other sculpture element that dominates the park is the glass pyramid, nicknamed Hidamari (or sunny spot) - although it's not actually a pyramid as such, but a pyramidal roof on a rather dynamic three story functional building. Noguchi was half Japanese-half American, but he clearly had that strong geometric lines view that has come to characterise many new (90s+) Japanese buildings.

Being summer however, the one extra bonus of the park is the large artificial beach/lake that can be enjoyed by children (L-kun) and adults (otousan) alike. It's great for taking a picnic lunch and just enjoying the great outdoors. Other attractions include a 3000 cherry tree forest. As I've not been there, I'm not sure about what it's like in Spring, but I'd imagine that the trees are still developing. When matured, it must be a grand place to do hanami in spring. L-kun was just happy to play in the water on what was a hot and humid Sapporo day.

The last attraction that I'll write about is the water sculpture, the Sea Fountain. This sits near a 150m long canal, and is one of the centre points of the park. There are a number of regular shows throughout the day, including both short and long displays. The long display takes about an hour to complete however... so you need to have patience... and take some protection from the sun. The show highlights a number of different aspects of water, and some of the phases are truly spectacular.

I'll show some snapshots of the show - but they don't really encompass the dynamic nature of the show, and the sheer scale.

I'm not sure if L-kun had enough patience to enjoy the whole show - but this is one most probably for the older children and adults.

Now, it's interesting that T-chan actually prefers Satoland to Moernuma Park - I've still yet to go there myself, so I can't comment. Like many things in Sapporo unfortunately, the transit system isn't the best, and driving is certainly the easiest way to get there. Also like many such places in Sapporo, it's free all year round... and whilst it might seem to be a great place in the "fine" months, it takes on a different aspect in winter, with cross-country skiing courses (where you can hire the equipment for free) criss-crossing the park.

So if you get the chance, and you've got the time... it's a great place to take the children.


  1. Nice photography.

  2. Thanks - but no credit to me - these were all taken by my wife... she's actually (in many ways) a much better photographer than me, as she's much more thoughtful than I. Unfortunately she doesn't get as much of a chance to take photos as I would like.

  3. The pyramid looks like the one at the entrance at the Louvre.

  4. Yeah - I can see the similarity too... The real distinction here is that you can actually go inside... not sure what sort of positive vibes you can expect to adsorb however... but on a cool Sapporo day (like they've been having this spring), anything that looks like a hot-house might be positive vibe enough.

  5. I am not sure how accurate this is but from reading your article I get the impression that this park is similar in concept to Parc Güell by Gaudi in Barcelona. I guess that the similarity that I am feeling is probably just that they are both sculpture parks with architectural design elements. Maybe Parc Güell is more of a garden though. Anyways, they were both designed by renowned "artists". :-)

  6. Sorry for the late response, but I've been full-time busy these last few weeks. I'm not an expert on Parc Güell, but ironically my brother-in-law went there just recently on his honeymoon. I should ask him about his impressions.

    I don't believe however that it's that comparable. Moernuma Park is a little bit on the larger - though perhaps less grander - scale.

  7. Wow the green hill looks like Waterloo warground in Belgium! Thanks for this amazing post :)

  8. Thanks for that... I've never been there, but I can imagine it. Much of Sapporo is open grassed hills that looks quite European, so it's not too surprising.