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Tadao Ando’s last intervention in the Makomanai Cemetery

This charming and awe-inspiring installation, located in the outskirts of Sapporo, is the last Tadao Ando,’s work. The Makomanai Cemetery hosted for 15 years a large stone Buddha that occupies the sprawling landscape, but when the direction decided they wanted to do something to increase visitor’s appreciations for the Buddha, they enlisted architect Tadao Ando, who had a grand and bold idea: hide the statue.

“Our idea was to cover the Buddha below the head with a hill of lavender plants,” said Ando. Indeed, as you approach “Hill of Buddha” the subject is largely concealed by a hill planted with 150,000 lavenders. Only the top of the statue’s head pokes out from the rotunda, creating a visual connection between the lavender plants and the ringlets of hair on the Buddha statue’s head.

Upon entering, visitors are forced to turn left or right and walk around a rectangular lake of water before entering the 131-ft (40-meter) long approach tunnel. The journey is a constant reminder of the weather, the breeze and the light, and is works in tandem to heighten anticipation of the statue, which is only visible once you reach the end of the tunnel.

Photography by Hiroo Namiki

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