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A Visit to Yangmingshan National Park

2016.07.08

I travelled to Taipei last month after 3 years absence to visit the site in Yangmingshan National Park with my over 20 years-long acquaintances; Mr.Kenji Horikomi, Mr. and Ms. Guo Zhong Dua. It takes half an hour by car from central of Taipei city to Mt.Yangmingshan. It is a symbolic volcanic mountain in Taipei suburbs like Mt.Hakone nearby Tokyo. There are popular tourist destinations such as hot spring or museum in the area, with its traditional architectures constructed when Taiwan was under Japanese rule. It was in the news several years ago when Kagaya, one of the Japanese traditional Hotels opened new business in this area.

Serving as a project adviser to Yangmingshan National Park from 2004 to 2005, I submitted conceptual design in 2006,and then afterwards, further detailed design from 2011 to 2012. The main purpose of this time visit was to check the completion of some part of the Garden constructed so far. Although it is commonly said that the period of landscape project from planning to construction in Taipei is quicker than others, this project went so slow that they have discussed about the matter of Cable Way over 10 years and have not concluded yet.

I suggested transforming the half of huge car park into a circuit garden. Having had a progress of the project, some part of the garden was constructed last year. The design includes the addition of paths and stream going around existing flower clock, a Rock Mountain and cherry blossom trees to make a garden where people can enjoy strolling around. It is likely that local visitors welcomed this new garden; for evidence; the park recorded over 2000 visitors for cherry blossom viewing in Hanami period after completion.

Although a stroke-style garden around a big pond is well known in China, it is uncommon to see this naturalistic style of garden with gently winding paths along stream. I believe local visitors had fresh experience in this new style of garden. I heard that a Japanese gardener: Motomi Oguchi directed the construction of Rock Mountain but could not see the final completion until end. My concern of garden construction in China is ending up with too much rocks damped along the edge of Water body without any philosophical and aesthetic deliberation for beauty. However, I could see the garden sit pleasantly with the magnificent scenery of the whole park. I was satisfied and convinced that it was right decision to create this type of garden at this part of the Park.

Although other part of the Park is still under construction, it was rewarding to see many visitors enjoying and relaxing in their way in the garden. In this country with strong sunshine and hot weather, people seems to know how to appreciate the maximum of shadows of large trees and waterside cooling space with its relaxing sound from waterfall in the Garden. Those roles of Park to people are something initial of landscape design, I believe.

At the end of the visit, I admired the tsurukame garden created by Motomi Oguchi in Taipei botanical garden. There is a symbolic sculpture in a Japanese style dry garden at the south, crane and turtle (fortune charm for both Japanese and Chinese tradition) curved from stone are sitting face to face, celebrating the friendship between Taipei and Japan.

Yoshiki Toda

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