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Laureate 2003

The Park of Koga (Japan) was awarded the Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes for its 2003 edition.

Park of Koga

Park of Koga (Japan) © UNESCO

The park of Koga is the work of the great landscape designer Nakamura Yoshio, supported by Tadao Kokubo, Mayor of Koga. The park is a mix of old and new elements. The ruins of the castle and of the tombs of the shogun of Koga, as well as those of the ancient houses, all testify to the richness of the cultural heritage. Beside the work of Nakamura Yoshio the architects Naito and Sejima have added contemporary features to the landscape in their turn, such as the reception and management building, the tea house and the Tenjibashi metal bridge.

In Koga, the complexity of the relations between nature, the natural environment and man – relations that are at the foundations of the very notion of a cultural landscape – have been carefully thought through. They are represented by the “Eight Scenes of the Universe Garden”.

However, these are not the only things to be seen in the park. The circle of the Kanto Mountains encircling the plain, the sky above the park’s hills, or the wind that tinkles a little bell and that lifts up paper kites: they are all conceived as components making up the landscape as a whole.

In sum, this park is an exceptional example of the design of a green space destined for contemplation and for leisure. Its interest lies in the marriage between the conservation of the natural and historical heritage and modern creation, and in its inviting visitors to carry out a poetic appreciation of the place, anchored in the sensibility of Japanese landscape, as well as to come to know it for themselves. By doing so, the visitors will transform this park in miniature into a larger space with all the different possible elements, whether natural, cultural or spiritual.