Murou Art Forest

Dani Karavan

Outline of Muro Art Forest

Process of Promoting the Project

In 1997, Murou Village formulated ‘Muro Art Arcadia Project’ as a depopulation countermeasure, with the support from National Land Agency. The aim of this project is to promote community development from the viewpoint of cultural art, by fusing art and public works. The project is based on the idea ‘Forest Corridor’ by Bukichi Inoue (1930-1997), a sculptor from the village, and making the ‘Monuments on the Mountains’ are planned as the symbol of this project.

Note: ‘Forest Corridor Plan’ is a concept of rediscovering the landscape which is the origin of Bukichi’s creation, and making the whole village a museum where humans and nature coexist. ‘Arcadia’ means Utopia rich in nature. ‘Art Arcadia Project’ means a cultural art activity. By using art, this project aims to make a modern Utopia in harmony with humans and nature, as well as culture and nature.

In 1998, Nara Prefecture formulated ‘the Plan to Improve Graded Lands in our Town’ to turn the graded land into a park as a countermeasure for a landslide control and regional development.

Significance of Facility Development

-Developing the facility as the second symbol of the ‘Art Arcadia Project’.
- With the theme of the project ’Create a landscape unique to Murou Village’, protecting the safety of townspeople and planning a cultural development as well, by making an effective land-use at the site where measures were taken against landslides.
-Stimulating local people’s sensitivity and enriching their minds with art. This will eventually lead to regional revitalization, alongside human life improvement. -Promoting the facility in and out of Japan, as a model case of fusing public works and art. This will help revitalize the region and its tourism.

Outline of the Facility

-‘Monuments on the Mountain’ project, made by a local sculptor Bukichi Inoue, was made possible by Israeli sculptor Dani Karavan. This facility creates a relaxing atmosphere.
-The park is an art in itself, which is expected to become a cultural heritage in the future to promote cultural and art activities.
-With the concept ‘Create the second nature with nature’, this facility symbolizes a nostalgic landscape reproducing the remains of old Japan, such as forests, terraced rice field, and other traces of the past.
-The monuments are arranged taking account of ‘harmony with nature’. This makes the park a place of comfort where people’s sensitivity and five-senses are stimulated.

-- Welcome to the Art Space Light and Shadow Creates. --

This open-air museum was established based on the idea of Dani Karavan, a world-famous Israeli sculptor. Here, you can embrace nature, and feel the stream of time or change of seasons with all your senses. As the name ‘Art Forest’ suggests, the park is the landscape sculpture and the world-class artwork in itself. Enjoy the artworks with your five senses, and embrace the nature that is letting us live. Here, you can get away from the bustle of big cities, and enjoy a relaxing moment.

Muro Art Forest Map

Description of the Monuments

Facility Center

This is a rest area for visitors. This building is harmonious with its surrounding scenery of cherry blossoms hill, and its white interior with skylights creates a bright fresh atmosphere. With Dani’s art techniques, the shape of the building looks different when seen at different angles.

Wavy Ground

This wavy trail and trees leads you to ‘Saint Kobo’s Well’ (the legendary well associated with ‘Kobo-Daishi’ or ‘Kukai’, a great Buddhist monk in Japan) which has been here since ancient times. The width of this trail looks wider seen from the main path of the park, and narrower as you get closer to the well; meanwhile, the two tree lines look parallel seen from the well. This technique was often used in Bukichi’s artwork, so Dani used the same style for this monument to pay homage to him. This is a place you can enjoy an unusual physical experience. The trees on both sides are Red Robin.

Spiral Bamboo Forest

17m in diameter, 4m in depth Go down the spiral stairs to the basement through the bamboo forest, and you will see a tunnel-like passage that will gradually lead you back to the ground level. This is a place you can experience ‘contrast’: open/enclosed space, above/underground, and light/shade.

Spiral Watercourse

Water spirals down in this shallow watercourse, where children can play safely. There is a sundial in the middle of the watercourse. This spiral design is said to be inspired by his experience of seeing a coiled snake running away, which happened when he visited this place. The tree at the source is fragrant olive.

Tower of the Sun, the Gate

Tower: 8m in height, 9m in diameter Gate: 6m in height This monument was created to visualize the ‘Road of the Sun’, a legendary line of 34 degrees 32 minutes north latitude, associated with the ancient sun worship. The ‘Road of the Sun’ runs from Nara to Ise Shrine, going through great shrines and temples, and this monument is situated on this line. The tower is made of anti-weathering steel, and the slit on the south side contributes to bring the sun’s ray of light into the tower depending on the time of the day or season; which serves as a sundial. The Gate visualizes the line ‘Road of the Sun’ running through east to west, and expresses the sun’s path. Here, you can enjoy the beautiful landscape light and shadow creates.

Terraced Rice Field

Traditionally, locals in this area have been engaged in farming in terraced rice fields; Dani wanted to keep this landscape in people’s memory. In this field, locals actually have been planting and harvesting rice, but they are suffering from severe wildlife damage, even after setting up a fence.


These stair-like benches are a nice place to relax, and enjoy the view of the first lake. These benches are made of the dark brown concrete called ‘Land’. Just like the Visitor Center, Dani wanted to make the stands look like something dug out of the ground. 150 people can be seated on each bench.

The First Island

The Island for Bird Watching: 14m in diameter This island was created for bird watching; trees are planted in the island to attract wild birds in the area.

The Second Island

The Pyramid Island: 16m in diameter This wedge-shaped pyramid gazebo is good for bird watching, taking a rest, and meditation. This wedge shape, a familiar motif often seen in Dani’s artwork, describes an enclosed space, such as a tent and a house. Seen from inside, the monument looks like a frame for the sky and the surrounding landscape. The pyramid has a brownish-red rusty surface; Dani used anti-weathering steel for the monument so the color and shape remain unchanged and last semi-permanently.

The Third Island

Open-air Island: 18m in diameter A wooden open-air event stage (made of tropical timber, ‘Selangan Batu’) is placed on the island.

Walking Trail

The park’s walking trail is paved with materials mixed with recycled wood chips and resin, and its color and texture harmonizes with its surrounding natural scenery. The wood chips are from artificial forest thinning or tree removal during constructions.

Visitor Center

This is the park’s information center. The architecture was designed to blend in with its surrounding natural landscape, as if the building was dug out of the ground. The building’s distinctive features such as the entrance in curve shape, and the wings adjoining the main building, make this building look as if it has been here for long, unlike other ‘box-like’ building. Regarding the color of the concrete used for the building, it was made from the soil in this park; the artist took the soil back to France, and then he picked the color to match the soil. Inside the building lies a courtyard with a moss hill, which harmonizes with the hill located behind. The trees in front of the building are Magnolia kobus.