Speaking of amazing Japanese playgrounds, there is nothing that tops Moerenuma, the vast, last project by Isamu Noguchi, the 400-acre park in Sapporo which was only completed in 2005, after his death.
Moerenuma gets 750,000-850,000 visitors a year, but because it is in Sapporo, and Sapporo is far from most places, most art and design types, even dyed-in-the-wool Noguchi fans, have never seen it in person. Which was enough motivation for Alexandra Lange, who writes about her recent pilgrimage to the park in Curbed.
Noguchi imagined Land Art and Earthworks before there was such a thing, at least in contemporary art. And Moerenuma is the culmination of that decades-long vision. Or, as Lange discovered, the accumulation of it. Noguchi completed the large-scale design and model for Moerenuma before he died in 1988, but it turns out the details were filled in by friends and colleagues, including architect Shoji Sadao. The water fountain is choreographed with a 50-minute show from who knows where, and the sculpted landscape is sprinkled with an Isamu's Greatest Hits Collection of playground equipment, as in the Octetra and Atlanta-esque swings mashup above.
In any case, it's still on my bucket list, if only because I'm gonna see Noguchi's Black Slide Mantra in the center of Sapporo some day, and if you've come that far...