One of the best attractions at Hakone has to be the POLA Museum of Art. Housed in a wonderfully-designed building, the POLA Museum has one of the largest private collections of Western art in Japan. It opened in 2002 and at the moment they are running a special exhibition to commemorate the 5th anniversary ~ Monet and French Landscape. It was an impressive exhibition with several works by Monet including some of his water lily paintings, a view of Rouen Cathedral and also the Houses of Parliament in London. Other well-known painters with works on display were Cezanne, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Sisley and Rousseau. A very enjoyable way to spend the morning.
Of course the POLA has the obligatory museum shop with postcards, posters and so on, which all generate a lot of income for artists or their estates (Vettriano is said to do very well from such royalties). One thing that did catch my eye though were the artist rag dolls. There was a kindly looking grandfather type with a big white beard, obviously Monet, and a black haired women with big earrings, headscarf and big colourful skirt for Frida Kahlo. My personal favourite, however, was the angry-looking flame-haired man with a detachable ear! Had it been cheaper than 3000 yen, I would have been tempted by the sheer kitschiness of it.