In the words of Tadao Ando, "Hokkaido is a vast land of great natural splendour. Its beauty is so awe-inspiring that it evokes forgotten feelings in Japanese. Emotions bring out our drive to live. The whole body of the Atama Daibutsu can’t be seen from outside. Snow accumulates on its head in winter. What remains hidden from view sparks the creativity."
Last year, I had a chance not only to visit Buddha Hill complex by the Pritzker-winner architect Tadao Ando at Makomanai Takino Cemetery but to also attend a lecture and meet the famous architect himself. I remember Tadao Ando’s hair was purple, reminiscent of lavender.
Exiting Sapporo’s urban grid and finding yourself in such a wide-open space like Makomanai Cemetery is a breath of fresh air. It has to be said that Makomanai Cemetery is different from what we can call a cemetery. It is more similar to a huge cultural park with various features such as Moai statue, Stonehenge recreation and a forest filled with cherry blossoms in spring.
Last but not least is Buddha Hill, which is covered by lavender with only Buddha's Head (Atama Daibutsu) peaking from the top in his serene meditative state. Once you enter the complex, you pass through walkways with water courts, which serve as a transition between the everyday and the otherworldly realm. After advancing through a tunnel-like space almost near darkness you find yourself up close to Buddha in the open air. This moment is enriched by natural elements such as light, rain, or snow.
Thanks to the magnificent beauty of Hokkaido, Buddha Hill is intriguing in any season: with its lavender fields in bloom or in winter under snowy coat.