Go to an OPEN AIR museum of course.
In contrast to yesterday morning, the day arrives with snow: great fat flakes of it drifting out of the sky, great blobs of it slipping splat off the roof, pillowy drifts coating the trees, and slushy piles on the road. Soooo pretty.
We take our time, there’s no rush, and finally head off to the Hakone Open Air Museum, to check out the art. I know, I know, quite mad really, but hey, it looked interesting from the train.
The road is so slushy they have to break out the snow ploughs to move it, cars are creeping along at walking pace, and the bus is chocka-block full of people. No joy even getting on. So we take the next bus – Hakone Free Pass not valid, so we decide to hang the expense and just take it. One stop later I realise the bus won’t take us to the right place (long confusing sign language with bus driver, pointing to a map of the bus lines, with the doors open to the very cold elements while he explains to this fool foreigner. So we hop off, paying the fare. What is it with us and buses here? Anyway, you’ve probably had enough of bus stories if you’ve read my previous blog, so lets skip to happy.
The Museum is awesome, even in snow and rain. If anything, some of the sculptures look more interesting with droplets of rain dripping off their noses. I know how they feel.
In the grounds is, of all things, a Picasso museum, a well-curated exhibition of art pieces that are not so well known, but are fascinating: etchings, pottery, sketches, and some beautiful glass reproductions of some of his more famous paintings, which showcases them in luminous and three dimensional colour.
The sculptures in the gardens are abstract as well as figurative, dotted about in what in summer must be luscious, colourful surroundings. The blossoms on some of the trees hint of what it will look like in a week or so, but I kind of like them now, in the grey.
Above the cafe where we take a short break to thaw, is a photographic exhibition of Japanese artists pictured amongst their art. The works range from quirky to erotic, to sublime.
It takes us three hours to meander through the park, and it’s well worth the effort of juggling umbrellas and cameras at the same time.
Hindsight is such a great thing hey? We could have visited yesterday instead of chasing clouds from east to west, but there it is – we wouldn’t have seen snow-laden statues, and that’s been fun. I’m not going to do this over hindsight…
We may not have seen everything Hakone has to offer, but we’ve seen some of the best, and now it’s time to warm up the extremities back at the hotel.