THE HAKONE OPEN AIR MUSEUM

 

WEBSITE: www.hakone-oam.or.jp
LOCATION: Hakone, Japan
NEAREST AIRPORTS: Narita International Airport, 3 hours by train
Pilgrimage-globe
Hakone is where Tokyo’s highly stung come to unwind. Peppered with Onsen bathing houses and spas, the hills surrounding a large lake are in close proximity to the capital making it the choice destination for a weekend escape. But the lust for the international and marvellous is ever present with a collection of super niche museums and experiences, like the Little Prince Museum (think being teleported into “generic small street in rural France”) or the Murano Museum (teleported into Venice). What caught my eye though was the Hakone Open Air Museum. After a long dip in an Onsen of course…

Hakone Open Air Art Museum is the first of its kind in Japan. It opened in 1969, it is relatively small with ‘only’ 17 acres of land (Yorkshire Sculpture Park is 500 acres). But where it might lack in size, it makes up for with its location, using the surrounding hills to give a sense of expansiveness and a dramatic backdrop for the art.

The collection has over 1,000 works, 120 of which are on permanent display. Equipped with a map, you will stroll around the grounds enjoying pieces by Miro, Gormley, Medardo Rosso (12 works!), Moore, Noguchi and more, with an increasing sense of that Japanese brand of calm. There is even a naturally heated spring mid-point through the trail where travel weary feet can be soaked.

Ready for all seasons, there are a few indoor pavilions, including a Picasso pavilion with a shocking amount of ceramics, and sculptures that children are encouraged to climb, making it all very family friendly as well. It is a wonderful way to spend a few hours, enjoying the scenery, fresh air, and art, before heading back to a natural spring onsen. Marvellous.