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American Society of Landscape Architects


August 2005 Issue

Captured Alive
Hotarumibashi Park is a triumph of Japanese contextualism.

By Mary G. Padua, ASLA

Captured Alive

When Tooru Miyakoda first encountered in 1994 the site that has become Hotarumibashi Park, he found two small, disconnected parcels of land divided by a newly built road. Much of the site consisted of the slope of a river gorge, which drops more than 50 feet from the edge of the road to the river. The site was the type of remnant area from an infrastructure project that, in many parts of the world, would have been abandoned to gather trash and become a public hazard.

However, Miyakoda, as a landscape architect, saw something more—the rich slopes of rice terraces rising in steps behind the river and open fields stretching to a mountainous horizon pierced by the white peak of Mount Fuji.

Completed in 2000, Hotarumibashi Park is a triumph of shakkei, or “borrowed scenery,” which plays a central role in the garden design traditions of both Japan and China. The design used the site’s visual and symbolic connections to its surroundings to transform a patch of land left over from infrastructure development into an elegant community park. At the same time, Hotarumibashi Park remains a simple local park that serves the needs of people from schoolchildren to grandparents.

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