Yamaguchi Park, situated very close to a busy hotel and restaurant/bars area, is an exceptional green space full of particular details. The visitor will inescapably travel the route to the Orient and then glimpse one end of the Planetarium
, with its dome, the largest in the world; here, meetings, exhibitions and popular science displays for every type of audience take place on a daily basis.
At the eastern end of the park is an avant-garde arrangement of buildings, a 1994 work by the Catalan architect, Oriol Bohigas, with residential buildings arranged in a U shape, fountains and covered squares that occupy half of calle La Rioja. A high concentration of cinemas and outdoor catering establishments, which entice the general public to relax and enjoy themselves, are a true reflection of a city that is growing in leaps and bounds in terms of its quality of life and modernity.
Built on the site of a former factory, this traditional Japanese garden, the origins of which date back to the 7th century
, invite meditation. Its symbolism recalls the celebration of the four seasons, transports the visitor to the Tea Ceremony, a tradition dating from the 16th century, and turns the garden into a spiritual meeting place, far from the madding crowd.
This Japanese garden is at the very heart of Yamaguchi Park. It extends across an area of some 4,000 square metres and is shaped by a landscaped area surrounding an ornamental lake, with features typical of oriental culture that are connected by pedestrian walkways. The rest of it comprises 500 tons of stone, 400 trees and 600 plants.
Start your visit at the western end of the park, next to the Planetarium. Lean against the railing, lower your gaze and look in front of you: above the lake, a ceramic plaque on wooden logs, a work by Concha Civetí, the Pamplona sculptress, is a symbol of the city twinning and serves as a guide to the panorama that opens up in front of the beholder. Turn your attention to the left.
Here is the suhama, or beach of sand and stone
. In front of you lies the yatsubashi, a wooden footbridge that joins two paths. Continue turning your eyes to the right. They will fix on the ishibasi, the stone bridge that represents the pathways of life, and the taki or waterfall, the course of which symbolises the idea that everything is in a state of flux and change.
Next, the azumaya, or little wooden hut
built on stilts above the lake, is without doubt a privileged place from which to contemplate the garden in its entirety. Go there and you will see something that needs no prior warning: proud and powerful, a géiser, or water fountain, over 20 metres high
, shoots up above the centre of the lake, provided the wind is not roused.