I’ve yet to visit Japan, but when I do, I’d love to visit Makomanai Takino cemetery in the northern city of Sapporo.
For 15 years, the cemetery was home to a stone Buddha that sat alone in a field, before the owners decided they wanted to do something that would give visitors a more serene appreciation of the statue.
The statue before Tadao Ando’s project.
Cue self-taught architect Tadao Ando and his striking idea: hide the statue.
The hill is planted with 150,000 lavenders — green in spring, purple in summer, and white with snow in winter.
“The design intention was to create a vivid spatial sequence, beginning with the long approach through the tunnel in order to heighten anticipation of the statue, which is invisible from the outside.”
— Tadao Ando
When the hall is reached at the end of the 40-metre approach tunnel, visitors look up at the 1,500 ton Buddha, whose head is framed by a halo of sky.
Makomanai Takino cemetery was established in 1982, and is open all year. It’s about a 30-minute drive from central Sapporo, or you can take a subway from Sapporo Station to Makomanai Station and then catch the #2 or #3 bus. Visitor information here.
Via Spoon & Tamago.