|The Arte Piazza Bibai, the Bibai Art Plaza,
is a sculpture park in the mountains where forty sculptures of Kan
Yasuda, an internationally renowned sculptor, are exhibited. The project
was initiated by the City of Bibai and Kan Yasuda in 1992 to revitalize
the city with arts and cultural promotion, as well as to preserve old
architectures and the surrounding nature. Bibai, once one of the largest
coal mining cities, has been suffering from critical depopulation. The
art plaza, including the restored closed-down school facilities and the
studio, is currently managed by the NPO.
Above all, the feature lies in Kan Yasuda's sculptures. In
minimal forms in white marble and black bronze, they profoundly
harmonize with the nature, while attracting people. They are often
described as organic or sacred presence providing cheer and tranquility.
The 70,000 square meter (17 acre) park of woods and lawns,
surrounded by mountains and a river, enjoys seasonal changes of nature
as well. Pastel cherry and magnolia blossoms, lush green poplar and
plane trees, blazing maple and ginkgo leaves, and glaring white snow
blankets. Deer, foxes and squirrels come along. Children play happily in
a thin stream of water running over a spread of marble pebbles and
beneath the sculptures.
The restored schoolhouse, a two-story wooden structure which
was once the standard for elementary schools in Japan, now brings back
the memories of old times to not only the community but the visitors.
Part of the structure is used as a city kindergarten. The Arte Piazza
Bibai earned the Togo Murano Award of Japan in 2002 as the best
architectural project to reach people's minds.
The former school gymnasium and the marble stage on a
hillside serve suitable venues for concerts, performance plays and
lectures, the former schoolhouse for exhibitions and the studio for an
educational purpose. Festivals and other cultural activities take place
in the park occasionally.
The Arte Piazza Bibai has long presented its pioneering
vision for people, nature and arts. It is realized by Kan Yasuda's
outstanding sculptures which embrace the essential of arts: people
recognize, or remind them of, the meanings of time and space within
The park is open daily.
The facilities are open on Wednesdays to Mondays 10am-5pm.
Closed on Tuesdays, the days after the public holidays, and
December 31-January 5
From Sapporo 40 minutes to Bibai Station of JR Hakodate
Honsen, from Chitose International Airport 90 minutes via Sapporo. 15
minutes by bus or taxi from Bibai Station.
From Sapporo JCT on Hokkaido Expressway, 40 minutes to Bibai
IC and 5 minutes east off the Expressway.