Be careful, the garden appears to have become more restricted lately and we have recently (4/2003) heard that one can only enter with an advance appointment and a group of people. The only time available is 3pm.
No admission fee.
Added to JGarden:
R. Cheetham, JGarden.org
This garden is located in downtown Paris on the grounds of UNESCO Headquarters. It was originally donated to UNESCO by the Japanese government. The 1700 sq meter site occupies a large central courtyard. It is filled with 80 tons of stone (selected by Noguchi and brought from Japan), a stream, pond, concrete bridge, grass and stone covered mounds, magnolias, flowering cherries and plums, lotuses and bamboo.
If you enter the site looking for a 'Japanese' garden, you'll immediately move toward the sunken section in the center of the courtyard space. But this is really only the beginning. The more traditional (and more vegetated) section below ground is contrasted in the Noguchi design with a much more stark, concrete and stone design at the ground level. The contrast between a stark, 20th century version of modernism is woven with the more traditional garden through the use of a stream and path armature that anchors the spaces and binds them both together. Water flows from a large stone slab labeled the 'Peace Fountain'. This slab stands as a sort of monolith in a rectangular pool of water cascading over a mirror-image inscription of the Japanese character, 'wa' meaning 'peace and harmony'. The water from here flows down this worked stone to a concrete channel that steps down a slope into the sunken garden, breaking from its straight channel into a series of curvilinear pools at the bottom.
Even the sunken garden is really a hybrid space, uniting a island and pond formation with a karesansui dry garden arrangement. The plantings are distributed amongst these stone skeleton. While the garden was undoubtedly intended as a contemplative space, it is designed to be walked as well as seen. The pathway is said to represent Buddhism metaphors for passage from the material life into the Pure Land. The raised paved area is the Pure Land from which one arrives and departs via the stepping stones.
Directly behind the Peace Fountain is the Nagasaki Angel, jutting from the wall. This status was originally part of the fašade of the Urakami Church in Nagasaki. It was the only part that remained after the destruction of the church by the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. It was donated to UNESCO by the City of Nagasaki in 1978 and incorporated into the Noguchi space after that.
At the edge of the Noguchi design, further behind the Peace Fountain, is a cylindrical Meditation Space designed by Tadao Ando, the contemporary Japanese architect. This space is also replete with atomic bomb symbols. The structure rests on a slanted surface paved with granit exposed to the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. It was later cleaned for use by Ando, but is now incorporated into the structure such that a constant flow of water now washes over the once irradiated stone.
At the opposite end of the garden from the Ando piece and the Peace Fountain is a sculpture is a painted mosaic called 'Water Rhythm' by Jean Bazaine, a French artist. It is intended to appear as a 'living surface' through its use of enamelled ceramic and stones.
On the other side of Building 3, on the far north end of the courtyard is a new memorial to Yitzak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel assassinated on November 4, 1995. An olive tree is planted in a large sculptural arrangement.
The courtyard is quite large. The people on site say that you can get the best view of the sculptural nature of the Noguchi design from a large wood bench located near the Peace Fountain. The bench itself is symbolic. It's made of a single split red cedar from Mac Millan Bloedel forests in British Columbia and was donated to UNESCO by the Canadian government.
The Noguchi garden was restored by master gardener, Toemon Sano (specified in Noguchi's will) who had also executed the original Noguchi design. The soil and trees had deteriorated over the previous forty years. T
A high mountain
a grain of dust.
a drop of water.
Once or twice
on an evening of moonlight
in the wind
this man here
has been happy
playing the game that suited him.