This Minimalist Photography Series Captures the Essence of a Tadao Ando Design

Ying Yin is a Chinese photographer whose work often appreciates architecture. But for her recent series Hill of the Buddha, Ying has chosen a markedly unique site: Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s Hill of the Buddha at the Makomanai Takino Cemetery on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.


Built in 2015, Ando’s project consists of a hill which surrounds a pre-existing huge stone Buddha, and a tunnel which is burrowed under the hill.

Ying’s images capture the serenity of the site as it lays under snow, highlighting the unique architectural approach its creator took. Smooth lines and patterns replace possible distractions; colour is kept to a minimum. Curating the essence of Ando’s design, Ying also elevates it.


We took a seat with the photographer to chat about her series.

THE PLUS: What was the concept behind the series?
Ying Yin:
I just wanted to visit the architectures which I love.

TP: What attracts you to the work of architect Tadao Ando?
Tadao Ando uses a simple appearance and geometric lines to create a complex but empty space, which represent the beauty of simplicity. He is adept in combing natural light with architecture. His design seems alive: you can almost see them breathe as though they are a part of nature.


TP: What kind of emotions struck you visiting the Hill of the Buddha?
Most of Tadao Ando’s architecture projects are commercial or public buildings. But the Hill of the Buddha is very different – it is religious.

TP: How long did you spend in Hokkaido? Did you like it?
I’ve spent a week in Hokkaido every winter for the past few years. I love that place so much.

TP: What do you like about photographing desolate scenes?
Desolate scenes prove something’s existence. In a crowd, I feel lost myself. But in desolate scenes, I can find the meaning of living.


TP: What was your process behind the photographs?
To make everything simple.

TP: What can we expect from your next series?
I am now preparing a still life project, which will be quite different from my architecture series.

The Hill of the Buddha in the Snow