May 01, 2007

Hakone - Day 1 - Open Air Museum

The cable car usually descends towards Lake Ashi from Owakudani, but that leg of the journey is being renewed at the moment, so it was either a long wait for the shuttle bus or opting to go back the way I came and take in some other sights. Given that the pension I was staying in was off the funicular railway, the latter option seemed much better.

Being Japan, every thought has gone in to how to maximise the entertainment value of any short trip ~ or from a more cynical view point, how to maximise the opportunities to get people to part with their cash. Just below the start of the funicular railway is the Hakone Open Air Museum, and this represents one of the better value entertainment options on offer in the Hakone area.

The museum is in a huge park area, surrounded by forested mountains, and it is home to dozens of impressive sculptures, some by the likes of Henry Moore, Rodin and Miro.There is also the Picasso pavilion, which houses some of his paintings and a fairly extensive collection of some of the ceramics he did in the latter part of his career.

The museum realises that families will be among the potential visitors, and so there is are some play areas for the kids, which is good, but why did they have to put them so damn close to the sculptures? There is no way of taking in the Miro sculpture pictured below without seeing the monstrous plastic climbing frame behind it and the dozens of pre-schoolers running around. Surely not the way art is supposed to be admired.

'Balzac' by Auguste Rodin

'Personnage' by Joan Miro. Unfortunately situated right in front of a horrible plastic labyrinth of a climbing frame for kids.

'Hand of God' by Carl Milles
'Miss Black Power' by Niki de Saint Phalle
The biggest work on display. You can't get an impression of the scale from this photo, but if I were stadning next to this sculpture, I'd probably only come up to the knee.

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