Added to the architectural must-see list is the Makomanai Takino cemetery in Japan’s northern city of Sapporo.

For 15 years, the Makomanai Takino cemetery was home to a stone Buddha that sat alone in a field, before the owners decided they wanted to do something to give visitors a more serene appreciation of the figure.

Makomanai Takino Buddha

As it sat (above) before the architectural and landscaping project.

Tadao Ando Hill of Buddha

Cue self-taught architect Tadao Ando and his striking idea: hide the statue.

The hill is planted with 150,000 lavenders — green in spring, purple in summer, and white with snow in winter.

“The design intention was to create a vivid spatial sequence, beginning with the long approach through the tunnel in order to heighten anticipation of the statue, which is invisible from the outside.”
— Tadao Ando

When the hall is reached at the end of the 40-metre approach tunnel, visitors look up at the 1,500 ton Buddha, whose head is framed by a halo of sky.


Makomanai Takino cemetery was established in 1982, and is open all year. It’s about a 30-minute drive from central Sapporo, or you can take a subway from Sapporo Station to Makomanai Station and then catch the #2 or #3 bus. Visitor information here.

Via Spoon & Tamago.