These Crochet Playgrounds Are All the Rage in Sapporo, Japan

Toshiko Horiuchi-MacAdam is the artist behind these genius playgrounds, located at the open air Hakone Open-Air Museum in Sapporo Japan. What’s so fascinating about these crocheted playgrounds is that the idea came as a ‘happy accident.’

When she was exhibiting back in the mid 1990’s, she had two kids approach her to ask if they could climb on top of her sculpture (which actually resembled a colorful hammock). She nervously said they yes and watched intently as her suspended artwork stretched and twisted as the children climbed. The sculpture took on a completely new meaning as it came alive. It was at that very point the idea was born to take this to a much larger scale and concept.

“It all happened quite by accident. Two children had entered the gallery where she was exhibiting ‘Multiple Hammock No. 1′ and, blissfully unaware of the usual polite protocols that govern the display of fine art, asked to use it. She watched nervously as they climbed into the structure, but then was thrilled to find that the work suddenly came alive in ways she had never really anticipated. She noticed that the fabric took on new life – swinging and stretching with the weight of the small bodies, forming pouches and other unexpected transformations, and above all there were the sounds of the undisguised delight of children exploring a new play space.”  

From that point, her work shifted into a rainbow of brightly saturated colors for these one-of-a-kind children’s playscapes. Rainbow Net opened in July of 2000 after completing three rigorous years of planning, testing, and constructing the project.

“…endless cycles of discussion and approval, with meticulous attention to detail…[including] an actual scale wooden replica of the space in Horiuchi’s studio and accurately scaled crocheted nets using fine cotton thread. Even then, it was difficult to assess many things. What difference, for instance, would the weight of the real yarn make when everything increased in scale? All of these factors had to be calculated in order to arrive at a scientific methodology that could eradicate any risk of unacceptable danger.”

At the end of the final assembly, Toshiko was on her hands and knees for up to 10 hours a day crocheting piece by piece until the project was finally completed. What an incredible playscape for kids, born from the idea of play, and it only happened to take a couple of kids to bring her sculpture to life. Genius!!!


As of 2013, there’s one much closer to home which opened up a couple years ago. It’s located in Winston Salem, NC at the Children’s Museum. For more information on this playscape and others, check out the PlayScapes blog, where Paige Johnson has featured some amazing playgrounds spread all across the globe. Thank you for dedicating yourself to spreading the art of PLAY.

Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam | Winston-Salem Children's Museum


2 thoughts on “These Crochet Playgrounds Are All the Rage in Sapporo, Japan

  1. Wow that is fascinating, and pretty impressive…. Would seriously love to play around on that. Where’s the adult version? 😉

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