The glass pyramid at Moerenuma Park (モエレ沼公園) in Sapporo, Japan, makes for dramatic viewing at dusk—and every other time of the day. Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi designed the sculpture park the same year he died (1988); it took another 17 years to turn this former landfill into the art-meets-nature escape that it is today.
The soaring Glass Pyramid pictured above is an architectural masterpiece and the hub of Moerenuma, housing restaurants, shops, and reading nooks. The park’s Sea Fountain is a man-made geyser that shoots what Noguchi called “a sculpture of water” some 82 feet into the air. There are artful children’s playgrounds, minimalist beaches, grassy knolls crisscrossed by imposing stainless steel sculptures, and band shells with crazy-good acoustics. In the spring time, visitors come to twirl among the cherry blossoms. In summer, they slip their shoes off and wade in the fountains. Fall is ideal for leaf peeping, and winter is all about cross-country skiing. The whole park is trippy and, yes, you need at least half a day to explore it. (Bicycles are available for rent at the Glass Pyramid, along with maps and schedules of the fountain shows or other events and performances.)
Unfortunately, Moerenuma is a good hour outside Sapporo proper—meaning it’s a bitch to get to if you haven’t rented a car. (Hi, that’s us!) To get there via public transportation, take a 25-minute subway ride on the Toho line to the Kanjo Dori Higashi stop. From here, pick up the Chuo Bus (Higashi 69) to Ainosato Kyoikudai Eki or the Chuo Bus (Higashi 79) to Nakanuma Shogakko Dori and get off at the stop for Moerenuma Koen Higashiguchi (East Entrance). Stops are not announced in English, so try to follow the little blue dot on your Google map if you can. It’s a pain to figure out but worth the effort, we swear. Just check the return schedule before you set out, as buses run very infrequently. The park is open daily from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. (last entrance 9 p.m.). Admission is free.
Moerenuma-koen 1-1, Higashi-ku, Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan; +011-790-1231 (Japanese only).