In the morning when we woke up, the sky was gloomy. There’s a high chance of rain that day, according to the weather forecast. It was unfortunate that we had planned to be out and about all day at the Morenuma Park, but we were hopeful nevertheless. The park was designed by a famous Japanese American artist, architect and sculptor, Isamu Noguchi. New Yorkers might be familiar with the name because of his notable work such as the Red Cube at the Financial District, the Chase Manhattan Bank Sunken Garden, sculptures in Central Park, and the classical Noguchi table which is still in production today. The Morenuma Park was his final project before his death in 1988. Needless to say, I have been a big fan of Mr. Noguchi, his philosophy and his work since waaay back.
We took a taxi to the park since it was already drizzling when we left the hotel. Fortunately, the rain subsided as we came closer to the park. We were dropped of by the taxi at the basement of the glass pyramid structure at the entrance of the park. Excited, we climbed up the hill and took some photos. As we observed our surroundings, it became clear to me that the scale of this place was immense.
The vast openness of the park felt surreal. Everything there was man-made, yet felt so natural. At the same time, my eyes played tricks with my mind because things that seemed close by was actually very far. Maybe it was because of the effect of the overcast weather too. The deliberate placement of objects and structures made the humid air that separated them felt almost as though they were part of the exhibition.
We thought that it would be super fun to explore the park on bicycles, so we asked someone if there was a place to rent them there. We were told that there were bicycles for rent, at the parking lot across the bridge. So we walked across the tiled bridge and headed for the bicycle rental shed. The old couple running the place was super nice. Aina got a really cute champagne colored girl’s bike, which was perfect for her size. Everyone beaming with joy, we crossed over the bridge again, this time on bikes.
We turned right before the circular pine forest and found ourselves riding along narrower pathways that opened up to a series of colourful playgrounds. These kid-sized structures were so cool. They had a modernist aura in the way they were shaped. Yet, like lego bricks, they didn’t feel out of place nor out of style. Aina went straight to climb on stuff and jumped around. Both Thalia and I felt like little kids as well as we tried the swings and seesaw.
After spending some time playing, we rode our bikes to discover another similar, but very different playground, and then another, and another. One had a pile of concrete slabs that looked like and ancient temple ruin. The next one was a volcano shaped concrete structure that had a narrow slide spiralling on it’s side. It was simply amazing.
Hungry, we rode out of the maze-like playground area and parked our bikes at the “beach” for lunch. The beach was literally just some sand on the banks of a very shallow lake. For visitors to get their feet wet. We sat on the crisp grass about ten yards away and ate our onigiri and sandwich. There were hardly anybody around.
After we were done with lunch, we rode our bikes for a short distance to the foot of a nearby man-made mountain. The sweeping pathway up to the summit made our ascend feel surreal. There were hawks circling overhead, and as we climbed higher, it felt like they were close enough to touch if we had a long stick. From the top of the mountain, looking down the landscape felt like we were standing on an enormous architectural model. The view around us had strange angular and symmetrical lines and shapes.
After that, we came back down the mountain and took our bikes to ride around the western part of the park. We found a shallow river that flowed with interesting trickling water effects because of the geometric patterns on the river floor. Then we stumbled upon a small forest of short pine trees, perfectly planted in straight rows. It was amusing to walk around inside the tiny pine maze. Next to it, was a white structure in the shape of two enormous bat ears. The shape allowed us to listen in on people’s conversations from the top of the mountain that we climbed up earlier. It was fun and strange to be able to catch a few words now and then while we stood next to the ears.
Not far away from it, now entering the southern part of the park, was the huge shiny metal pyramid. It was certainly an amusing visual effect as we took pictures while standing in the middle of it.
Our last stop at the Morenuma park was the water fountain. Watching the amazing water show that runs only a few times a day, it was clear how Noguchi was a master at hydrodynamics as well. We were all mesmerised by the transitioning shapes and rhythm of the water.
All tired and ready to head back, we returned our bicycles to the shop up front. It was also starting to drizzle again at that time. At the shop, we asked for directions to the nearest bus stop, the shop lady told us where it was, but also kindly suggested that she could call a taxi for us if we wanted. Of course we agreed to her suggestion. Yay! Our trip back to the hotel became a breeze. Phew…. what an amazing day!
After a short nap at the hotel, we went out again for dinner. It was still raining a bit so we decided to take the underground arcade called Aurora Town that goes from Odori Park Station, all the way up to the Sapporo Station.
Actually, there wasn’t much to look at in terms of shops and restaurants. There was a Moss burger and one or two cafes. But interestingly, there was also a couple of performers. A singer in one area was releasing an album. He performed there in the tunnel and had a lot of fans. Then, there was a group of “gyaru” dancing with full costumes in another part of the tunnel.
We decided to go up to the mall when we reached Sapporo Station. Thalia found a really nice long coat that was thin enough for Singapore weather. Aina bought a big bag for carrying all her ballet stuff when she’s back in Singapore. After shopping, we went downstairs to find a place for dinner. This time, walked into a sushi place at the end of one of the corridors. We didn’t have high expectations because the place looked pretty ordinary. But actually, the sushi was amazingly good. There was plenty of variety, and the quality of the fish were top notch. “This is the best salmon sushi I have ever had”, Aina said after dinner. And as it turns out, a few months later when we were back in Singapore, she still thinks that sushi place had the best salmon sushi ever.
Photos of today is in Sapporo 2015 album.
Other entries of this trip is at Hokkaido Trip Summer 2015.
Address: Moerenuma-koen 1-1, Higashi-ku, Sapporo
Open: Throughout the year
Hours: 7:00-22:00 (Park entrance closed at 21:00)
Telephone: 011-790-1231 (Japanese only)