“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” - Tadao Ando
Last year I had a chance not only to visit Buddha Hill complex by the Pritzker-winner architect Tadao Ando in Makomanai Takino Cemetery, but to attend a lecture and meet the 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 as 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 and a forest filled with cherry blossoms in spring.
Last, but least is Buddha Hill, covered by so much lavender that you can see only Buddha's head in his serene meditative state, which in Japanese is called Atama Daibutsu. Once you enter the complex, you pass through walkways with water courts, which serve as a transition between the everyday and the other worldly 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.
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