Translated by Hilary Keyes
Hakone Open-Air Museum - Explore The Arts Surrounded by Nature
Written by Jumpei Kawashima
With hot springs and a close proximity to Tokyo, Hakone is a great resort town. But did you know it's also home to one of the most incredible art galleries ever?
Hakone is immensely popular with both domestic and international tourists as it is blessed with numerous hot springs and is relatively close to Tokyo.
But it's not only a spot full of hot springs and natural scenery. Hakone is also a city of culture, with many amusement areas, museums and art galleries to explore.
Today, we would like to present the Hakone Open-Air Museum, known also as Chōkoku-no-mori (彫刻の森) where you can walk around a natural forest and view impressive works of art from around the world.
Let's learn more about this fascinating art gallery.
No Set Routes! Enjoy this Museum Freely
All throughout Chōkoku-no-mori's vast grounds you will find many different works of art. Found in the heart of the outdoors, this is a truly unique form of art exhibition.
Carl Milles “The Hand of God”
What a difference! You can't experience art like this in a traditional gallery. The effect of the natural wind and light on the works is unbelievable; it's as though you are seeing art for the very first time.
And there are no set routes for viewing the works. After entering the art gallery, there is no time limit to your visit, so you may take your time and truly appreciate the art at your leisure.
Henry Moore “Family Group”
On clear days, you might just feel like sitting on a bench and taking a break amidst these pieces. Doesn't that sound good?
Some of the Works at Chōkoku-no-Mori
The works found here vary not only in design but also in size. Here are a few of the impressive works found throughout Chōkoku-no-mori.
This huge figure stands out. Made by the French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, "Miss Black Power" has its origins in songs of praise to and for women.
Standing in the open, this work is very impressive.
This is the “Symphonic Sculpture” tower. Made by the French artist Gabriel Loire, it is the tallest structure at Chōkoku-no-mori.
If you step closer, the light from the stained glass that makes up the interior of the tower leaps into your eyes. The reflections of the sun on this glass are simply beautiful!
If you ascend to the top of the spiral staircase, you will be able to see all of Chōkoku-no-mori in panorama. You can also gain a different perspective on the other works by viewing them from here.
Garden of Stars
Peter Jon Pearce ”Curved Space Diamond Structure”
There are also many, many other works to see if you visit Chōkoku-no-mori for yourself. Children can play while their parents appreciate the art, making this a lovely spot for families to spend time together too.
Ease Your Fatigue in the Footbath
If you've tired yourself out walking through the building and grounds, at the footbath you can relax your feet and legs. After all, Hakone is famous for its hot springs. Called the orange hot spring, this spa actually is a naturally occurring hot spring that they built around.
The foot bath is open during the art gallery hours, is free of charge and very convenient as you don't need to change out of your clothes; simply roll up your pant legs and enjoy. You don't even need to bring a towel! You may purchase an original towel with the logo on it for 100 yen.
After soaking your tired feet in the waters, they will feel lighter and then you can be on your way to the next exhibit!
A Gallery for Everyone
The Hakone Open-Air Museum was opened in 1969 as the first outdoor art gallery where one could appreciate sculptures and art both man-made and natural. Also unlike traditional art galleries, here you may freely walk about and view the works.
And, all of the building signs and display information are written in other languages, making it easier for non-Japanese speakers to also feel comfortable while viewing the art.
Other famous locations within Chōkoku-no-mori are their Picasso Pavilion and the Main Gallery, where you will find numerous other exhibitions to enjoy. If you have plenty of free time in your schedule, by all means spend some of it surrounded by both nature and art.
By the exit you will find a small gift shop where you can purchase some amazing souvenirs of your time at the Hakone Open-Air Museum. Before you head back to the rest of the world, why not see if you can find one last piece of the unconventional here?
A truly unique experience awaits you at this art gallery surrounded by nature. Should you be planning a trip to Hakone, please make sure to spend some time at the Hakone Open-air Museum.
Hakone Open-Air Museum
Address: Kanagawa, Hakone, Ninotaira 1121
Hours: 9:00-17:00 (last entrance 16:30)
Wi-fi: Inside the indoor gallery
Credit Cards: Accepted, but admission tickets require cash
Other Languages: Simple English
Pamphlets in Other Languages: English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese, Korean
Nearest Station: Chōkoku-no-mori Station (彫刻の森駅) Hakone Tozan Line
Access: 2 minute walk from Chōkoku-no-mori Station
Entrance Fee: Adults 1600 yen, hs/uni students 1200 yen, jr/elementary 800 yen (Group rates available)
Phone Number: 0460-82-1161
Homepage: Hakone Open-Air Museum