Mountainside Memorial Features 100 Blooming Gardens That Change with the Seasons
On an island in the Hyōgo Prefecture within the memorial city of Awaji, there’s an array of buildings and green space known as Awaji Yumebutai. This complex, which was created in the mid-1990s by architect Tadao Ando, was originally designed to sit on the side of a mountain—an area that had previously been excavated for landfill development—as a natural space where people could gather.
The ambitious architect expanded on his initial plans, going so far as to actually convince the local authorities to purchase the surrounding land as additional space for this innovative park. Before he could complete his vision, however, a violent earthquake shook the island and took the lives of more than 6,000 people. In the aftermath, Ando revised his plans and converted the Awaji Yumebutai into a memorial, which includes the stunning Hyakudanen, also known as “the 100 Stepped Garden.”
This gorgeous landscape is the site of a group of 100 flower beds arranged as small square gardens. They’re built on an incline and spread over several levels, with blooms that change and correspond to the four seasons. The flowers serve as a symbol to those who lost their lives during the earthquake.
Hyakudanen also features a 10-meter-wide step-cascade of continuously flowing water that’s adjacent to standard stairs. Viewers can trek the incline, seeing each garden as they go, or take a free-standing elevator to the top of the memorial. Here, a viewing platform offers a look at the garden in all of its beautiful glory.