Modern Art and Mountains: Hakone Sculpture Park and Hakone Open Air Museum Japan

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Hakone Open Air Museum is located in a majestic setting nestled among the green-forested mountains near Tokyo.  The Open Air Museum Hakone is  Japan’s first open air museum. The Hakone museum   features about a 120 works from a who’s who of international modern artists such as Rodin, Picasso, Henry Moore, Alexander Calder and Niki de Saint Phalle.  The Hakone Outdoor Museum’s ethos is to balance art and nature. In our opinion, this Japan Open Air Museum achieves this effect beautifully. Although many of the works are set in a Hakone sculpture park, there are also indoor pavilions. When you are visiting Hakone with children, in addition to its many tourist attractions such as the cruise on Lake Ashii and visiting a Japanese hot spring, a stroll through the  Hakone Open Air Museum is a must-do.

Visiting the Hakone Open Air Museum in Japan

Child-Friendly Exhibits at Hakone Open Air Museum

My children loved the Hakone Open Air Art museum running around and playing amongst the exhibits.  In addition, I was able to take them on a short crash course of modern sculpture since there were so many famous artists present in one place. They could see for themselves the difference between the works of Henry Moore versus Calder because they were near each other in this Hakone sculpture park.

Hakone Open Air Museum
Fried egg benches

Some of the exhibits at this Hakone Outdoor Museum are actually meant for human interaction such as the giant maze of flowers called A Garden of Stars.

Hakone Air Museum
The Garden of Stars Maze

My son loved soaking his tootsies in the foot bath which has oranges and lemons floating among the hot water – the same thermal hot spring water that fills the onsens nearby.  For a nominal 100 yen (about 50p) in the Hakone Open Air, you can take a little towel to dry off your feet afterwards.

Hakone Open Air Museum
Every museum should have a place to refresh tired feet.

The children also loved feeding the giant koi in the pond at the Open Air Museum Hakone. When I say giant, I mean giant. These koi have probably been fed way too much by indulgent tourists.  I loved the honour system where you put in some coins and you can help yourself to a little dish of fish food. It’s so Japanese to trust visitors will do the right thing at this Hakone Open Air Art Museum.


Hakone Open Air Museum
Some greedy fat koi

My kids’  favourite exhibit at Hakone Open Air Museum was the soap bubble castle, a plexiglass and steel work technically called Curved Space Diamond Structure. Set in the Hakone sculpture park, this piece by American sculptor Peter Pearce, is a structure that you can climb inside and around. My kids did not need a second invitation!

Like the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, outdoor artwork is easier for children to engage with – perhaps because it is less formal and playful in natureOutdoor artwork is meant to withstand Mother Nature never mind kids. Without any boundaries, you can get as close to the artwork as you want.

Hakone Open Air Museum
Inside the Soap Bubble Castle AKA Curved Space Diamond Structure
Hakone Air Museum
Climbing soap bubbles into the sky

The Permanent Collection at the Open Air Museum Hakone

Many of the works at this Hakone museum are oversized but feel perfectly set in their Hakone open air location because of the scale of the mountains.

Hakone Open Air Museum
I came in like a wrecking ball AKA a Moment of Movement by Aiko Miwaki
Hakone Open Air Museum
Le Pieureuse by Francois-Xavier and Claude Lalanne
Hakone Open Air Museum
I’ve fallen and can’t get up. AKA Close by Anthony Gormley

The Hakone Open Air museum rotates its display of 26 Henry Moore sculptures which is the largest collection of his works anywhere in the world.

Another amazing exhibit is found in the Picasso Pavilion which contains over 300 of the artist’s works.  They were donated to the Museum by Picasso’s daughter.

Hakone Open Air Museum
The Picasso Pavillion

Practicilaties for the Hakone Open Air Museum

We all loved the Hakone Open Air museum and were so glad our friend recommended we visit it. It was a delightful afternoon spent amongst beautiful modern art in the mountains.  At the end of the day, I had to usher my kids out of the Hakone outdoor museum because they could have stayed longer!

Visiting the Hakone Open Air museum with kids
Visiting the Hakone Open Air museum with kids

Getting To Hakone Open Air Museum Japan

The Hakone Open Air Museum is very easy to find.

Most of the people getting off at the stop will be going to the museum – there’s not much else in town!  It is a short walk from the little train station at Chokoku-no-Mori Station (the penultimate stop on the Hakone Tozan Line) heading towards the town of Gora.

Hakone Open Air Museum Hours

The Hakone Open Air Museum hours are generous – open every day of the year from 9-5. There is reduced admission for students.

Hakone Open Air Museum Reviews

Check the TripAdvisor reviews for the Hakone Open-Air Museum



Hakone museum an open-air museum that your kids will love
There are few locations that are better for a museum than some beautiful green-forested
mountains. Hakone Open Air Museum is Japan’s first open air museum and features 120 works from artists as famous as Picasso. The perfect perfect day trip from Tokyo when traveling Japan with kids: check it out! #hakone #hakonemuseum #kidsactivities #tokyo #japan

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14 thoughts on “Modern Art and Mountains: Hakone Sculpture Park and Hakone Open Air Museum Japan”

  1. How fun! I actually was born and raised in Tokyo so Hakone was only a quick train ride away – my family would go just for the weekend to enjoy the hot-springs. I think I’ve been to this museum 3 times or so? I love it! I hope your kids enjoyed the area where they have the huge nets and swinging bubbles! #MondayEscapes

    1. The nets were closed! Some sort of safety hazard. Not sure it will reopen from what I could make out. A real shame because it looked fun.

  2. I adore this and totally want to go! We live in Okinawa and don’t get to mainland all that often but I am totally adding this to my list, my kids would LOVE it here!

  3. Seems it is an interesting and spacious place to visit with kids.Really wonderful sculptures.And I always like the places with koi ponds.These fish are so vibrant!

  4. This looks like a truly wonderful space – my son would love it too. How cool is the foot bath? What a great idea to have than nestled with all the wonderful art. Love how it’s interactive. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

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