Visiting an art museum is probably not top of most people’s lists when planning a trip to Hakone. However, you should make an exception for the phenomenal Hakone Open-Air Museum. Art and nature lovers alike will delight in this offbeat playground of a sculpture garden, set in a breathtaking landscape in the mountains of Hakone. 

Hakone Open Air Museum

Picasso, Moore, and More!

Opened in 1969, the Hakone Open-Air Museum was the first open air museum in Japan. By placing contemporary sculpture in a dramatic landscape, the founders aimed to promote sculpture as an environmental art. Museum-goers are invited to “participate in this conversation between nature and sculpture”. The result is less of a conventional museum and more of a romp through an art-covered mountainside.

Henry Moore sculpture at Hakone Open Air Museum

The collection is truly impressive, both for big names and a good dose of whimsy. Around each bend, you are just as likely to come across a famous Henry Moore sculpture as you are the very Instagrammable Sunny Side Up egg bench. 

Sunny Side Up bench at Hakone Open Air Museum
Henry Moore sculpture at Hakone Open Air Museum

While most of the collection is outdoors, there is also a special collection of Picasso ceramics and metalworks. These works are housed in the stark white Picasso Pavilion, which, because of it’s stained-glass windows, should really be called the Church of Picasso. While deservedly famous for his pioneering painting techniques, Picasso was a prolific artist who created art until the end of his long life. The Picasso ceramics on display pay homage and shine a light on this later period in the life of one of the world’s greatest artists. 

The Picasso Pavilion at the Hakone Open Air Museum

Fun for Everyone

If the thought of dragging the kids around a sculpture museum sounds boring, fear not. The Hakone Open-Air Museum has a few more tricks up its sleeve, with two remarkable artworks just for children. 

You can play on sculptures at Hakone Open Air Museum

The Curved Space-Diamond Structure and Woods of Net are both large-scale sculptures that children can play on. With pieces like this, kids can not only have fun but can interact with art in a full-body, immersive experience. Parents can only watch though; these exhibits are restricted to those 12 and under. 

After a long, art-filled walk, there’s nothing that adults would like more than a chance to put their feet up. Luckily, the Hakone Open-Air Museum has a hot spring foot-bath where visitors can relax and soak their weary feet. Towels with the museum logo are available for purchase for ¥100. 

With a ticket price of ¥1,600 (¥1,400 for Hakone Free Pass holders), a visit to the Hakone Open-Air Museum isn’t the cheapest outing. But with so much to see and experience, it is worth devoting a few hours of your time while visiting Hakone. 

Name: Hakone Open-Air Museum
Address: Ninotaira, Hakone-machi, Kanagawa 250-0493
Open: 9:00-17:00 (last admission 16:30)

Post by Japan Journeys.