Visiting Moerenuma Park in Sapporo’s Summer

That was some good chocolate...

G’day everyone, in today’s blog, we are going to visit Moerenuma Park in Sapporo’s North East, the #1 rated thing to do in Sapporo according to TripAdvisor, and one of the places we visited during our Hokkaido 6-day road trip.

Before we jump into it though, I’ve got a question for you:

When you are travelling and on a schedule, what kind of activities do you prefer? Do you like to just chill, or do you prefer something fast paced? Natural or cultural experiences? Something else? Let me know down in the comments below!

Getting to Moerenuma Park

This 188-hectare park is located approximately 11.5km’s from the heart of Sapporo, which is about a 20-minute drive. Don’t trust Google Maps for your directions though if you search for Moerenuma Park because Google Maps switches from driving to walking and takes you in the long way around. Instead, search for one of the car parks. “Moerenuma Koen Azuma parking lot” is at the eastern entrance, and is the one we went to as it is the most direct when coming from Sapporo CBD. This parking lot also gives you road access to drive into the Glass Pyramid car park.

Driving in to the Glass Pyramid car park
Driving into the Glass Pyramid car park

Here is the Google Maps reference that we used.

Sadly, there is no train or subway access to the park, but you can get there by bus, so those limited to public transport need not despair.

First, get to the Kanjo Dori-Higashi Subway station on the Toho Line. From there, you can catch the Chuo Bus, either Higashi 69 or Higashi 79, and they will take you out to Moerenuma Park’s east entrance. The stop there is called “Moerenuma Koen Higashiguchi” and it’s about a 25-minute ride on the bus. From there it’s a short walk to the park. You can also take the 26 from Asabu Station on the Nanboku subway line.

If you don’t read Japanese, it can be a little tricky to find the timetable online and a map of where the bus stops. So, check here for the best English map I’ve found. Depending on how good your Japanese is, or how well you do at deciphering Google Translate, you can check the 69 and 79 bus timetables here.

Admission fees and other costs

Admission is free, and if you drive, parking is also free, so your only costs are optional ones, like going to the restaurant, or hiring a bike, which you can do from the Koen Azuma parking lot. Bicycle hire for a two hour period costs 200 yen or 300 yen with a baby seat. If you are planning to check out the entire park, this could be a great option to do it a little quicker. Much of the park is level, so it should be an easy ride.

Bicycle hire pricing and times
Bicycle hire pricing and times

Opening hours

Moerenuma Park is open 7:00am to 22:00pm, 365 days a year, however, the main entrance closes at 21:00pm, so no late night driving in.

The west and south entrances shut at 19:00pm and are also closed during Winter.

Some of the attractions within the park have different and varying operating hours. Check the Moerenuma Park website for the current times.

About Moerenuma Park

Moerenuma Park is unique because it has been built over an old garbage dump that had been used as reclaimed land from 1979 and with the construction of a park beginning in 1982. The final park design was done by Isamu Noguchi, and work on implementing his designs began in 1989 with the park opening in 2005. Unfortunately, he passed away and never got to see the final park.

Matt at the Glass Pyramid
Matt at the Glass Pyramid

One of the things that’s pretty cool about Noguchi’s design is the intention that the entire park would be a sculpture in and of itself. Surrounded by Moere Marsh and with the pyramid motif throughout the park, it makes sense that there would be a “mountain” to give you a good vantage point while continuing the theme. Mount Moere is only 62m high, so it’s an easy paved walk to the peak.

If you aren’t really into cycling or walking around the park, you can drive into the heart of it, to the Glass Pyramid car park and walk from there directly in.

Entry to the Glass Pyramid 'Hidamari' from the car park
Entry to the Glass Pyramid ‘Hidamari’ from the car park

The pyramid, nicknamed ‘Hidamari’, or sunny spot, houses a museum, shop, gallery and restaurant.

That was some good chocolate...
That was some good chocolate…Oh, and that’s the Glass Pyramid at Moerenuma Park!

We were keen to have a look inside but unfortunately for us, we were there too early and it wasn’t open yet.

Peeking inside the Glass Pyramid
Peeking inside the Glass Pyramid

Some of the other park attractions include the Sea Fountain water show, the artificial Moere Beach, Play Mountain, Cherry Tree Forest, Tetra Mound, Aqua Plaza and the Music Shell.

Tetra Mound and the Music Shell at Moerenuma Park
Tetra Mound and the Music Shell at Moerenuma Park

We were planning to see some more of the park, but, it was raining quite a bit, which it turns out is common in the Summer here. So we just saw what we could without getting wet and decided to travel on to our next destination, Ishiya Chocolate Factory at Shiroi Koibito Park.

So, we saw the Glass Pyramid, the Tetra Mound, and the Music Shell. We could also see Moere Mountain, though we didn’t realise that’s what we were looking at! Really there is a lot more to see here, but if you have a wet day like us (which is highly probable in Summer), you might want to rethink your plans.

Pros

  • Cheap! Free admission and free parking.
  • Easy to access by car. Can drive right into the centre of the park if you need to.
  • Can be accessed by bus.
  • A beautiful green space.
  • Interesting for those with an eye for art and architecture due to the use of the pyramid motif.

Cons

  • Located out of the city, away from many of the other attractions.
  • Limited public transport options.
  • Walking/cycling access only to most of the sights (only a con if it’s raining, you are limited on time, or you have mobility impairments).
  • Takes a lot of time to see a small number of things.

Overall

So from what we experienced, I’d say that Moerenuma Park is a peaceful place that does feel very open and certainly helps reconnect you with nature in the built-up city of Sapporo.

Part of the grassy parkland between the Glass Pyramid and Tetra Mound
Part of the grassy parkland between the Glass Pyramid and Tetra Mound. Perfect for a picnic if it’s not raining!

It is a large, green space that strikes me as being perfect to spend the day at with your family or church friends, or anyone else you enjoy spending time with. Take a picnic lunch and just relax, particularly in the spring months when the cherry blossoms come out and the rain is less frequent.

Some of the green space around the Glass Pyramid
Some of the green space around the Glass Pyramid

For a tourist on a tight schedule though, it’s definitely something to miss, particularly if you get a rainy summer day like we did. There are some cool ideas in it and as a park, it’s great, but it is a fair way out of the city and there are plenty of exciting things to do and see in Sapporo that will keep you busy. To be honest, I don’t think it warrants a #1 rating on TripAdvisor. If you are travelling that way anyway, then I’d definitely check it out, but if not, save yourself the time and effort.

For our #1 thing to do in Sapporo, stay tuned. I’ll link to it right here when it’s up!

Hotels near Moerenuma Park

Unfortunately, there are no hotels in the immediate vicinity of Moerenuma Park, so if you are travelling by public transport, you may be better off with a hotel near the subway line like one of these ones.

Hotel Monterey Sapporo

Hotels Combined

Agoda

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Hotel Sunroute Sapporo

Hotels Combined

Agoda

R&B Hotel Sapporo Kitasan Nishini

Hotels Combined

Agoda

Otherwise, you can search for the nearest hotels using the search box below.

Helpful links

I’ve put a number of links throughout this article that I found helpful, but here are a few others that I found handy for planning as well.

Don’t forget

I hope you find this info helpful. Don’t forget to let me know in the comments below what kind of experiences you like when you travel and I’d also love to hear your thoughts on Moerenuma park.