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Fujiko Nakaya : Greenland Glacial Stone Project

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This is the official group portrait of everyone who worked on the project at Thule with the ever present Dundas Mountain in the background. Fujiko, wearing a dark cap stands with her sister Sakiko, a geologist. On the other side of her is Col. Robert Cox the commander of the base who became a great supporter of the project. Photo: Julie Magura

In 1994 Fujiko Nakaya called Billy Klüver and asked for help in getting stones from Greenland. She needed stones from Greenland for a memorial garden of a museum to be built in honor of her father. He had been a snow scientist, who had determined the shape of snow crystals in the 1930s and had become a National Treasure in Japan. He was also a writer and a poet. After the war he had worked every summer on the ice cap in Pituffik in North West Greenland.

Pituffik is the site of Thule Air Force Base, heavily used during the cold war. At the time, there were only 150 U.S. Air Force personnel there -- at the height of the cold war there were 10,000. The area around Pittufik is an arctic desert with only a few inches of rain a year. There are no trees. The environment changes from absolute silence with no wind at all to 40 kilometer/hour wind coming off the ice cap, which begins 15 kilometers away from the air base. Everything is stone


Fujiko wanted stones from where her father had worked. In July, Nakaya, her sister Sakiko, Klüver and Julie Martin  went to Thule Air Base. in northern Greenland.  Danish contract workers, who maintain the base for the U.S. Air Force gathered stones from fields of stone at the base of the ice cap that fills the center of the Island. Sixty tons of stones were carefully gathered in forty-eight specially-built wooden boxes which were shipped to Japan by way of the Kiel and Suez Canals. Nakaya and Sakiko then arranged the stones in the same patterns they had been in to form the Fog and Stone Garden at the Uchikiro Nakaya Museum of Snow and Ice in Kaga City, Japan.

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Fog and Stone Garden at the Uchikiro Nakaya Museum of Snow and Ice in Kaga City, Japan. Photo: Fujiko Nakaya

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