2007/09/07

Putting On Airs

continued from Road Trip (Railroad that is)...

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After checking into the Fujiya Hotel we upacked and took a few moments to catch our breath. I should have taken a picture of one of the staff girls, like the one who took our picture, in thier snappy uniforms with pill box hats. (Call for Philip Morris?). But no time, it was off to the Hakone Open-Air Museum. Catching the Hakone Tozan train at Miyanoshita station, we had a short ride to the next stop, Chokoku-no-mori.

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As I wrote in a previous post, sometimes it seems Japan is one big Disneyland. With Swiss built trains and aerial trams no less. Cue the accordion music.

The Hakone Open-Air Museum is a short walk from the station. Remembering to show our "freepass" we get the discounted entrance price and find ourselves in a rather amazing park full of bronze statuary. I had read about this place in books and heard about it from an aunt and uncle who visited some years ago, but it is really a very different thing to actually walk through it in person. What a wonderful venue for displaying these massive works of art. Most obvious on entering the grounds is "Man and Pegasus" by Swedish-American Carl Milles. It is thrust into the sky on a tall pedestal making appear to be soaring through the clouds.

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Nearby, Rodin's Balzac stands in a stoic pose against the mountains.

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Just below, four statues by Emile Antoine Bourdelle -"The Eloquence", "The Force", "The Victory" and "The Liberty" dwarf visitors, yet in turn are dwarfed by the surrounding mountains.

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Henry Moore's abstract forms leisurely occupy space on a lawn, with nothing to distract from them. This museum owns 26 of the English master sculptor's works and rotates them, displaying several at a time. Moore famously proclaimed that "sculpture is an art of the open air".

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Henry Moore's 'Reclining Figure' 1969-70


We had good weather the first day and the views from the museum were inspiring.

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With 100 sculptures on exhibit on over 17 acres of land, one can spend a lot of time here to see it all. So even though this post is full of photos, it is a small fraction of what is there. I've put some additional pictures in a slide show at the end.

As we went on, and on, things became curiouser and curiouser.

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K waves as Pandabonium snaps a reflective shot.

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Some sculptures are beautiful and tender...

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some perhaps clever...

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others amusing (or confusing - the hares are boxing on a cross) ...

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and then there are those which remind us of certain friends....

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Near a building housing a gallery of modern paintings as well as souvenir and snack shop, stands a tower of stained glass called Symphonic Sculpture (1975) by French artist Gabriel Loire.

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A sign says something about the symphony which brings joy, and inside, the stained glass tower is quite beautiful.

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But to view it all, one must climb the spiral staircase at the center. I don't like heights much. I'm not so bad as Jimmy Stewart in "Vertigo", but if I'm going to be high up, I want to be seated in a plane. The safety bars rise over one's own height, but no matter, it's the view down that counts with me...

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On top of the tower, the wind was blasting. That part of the symphony experience brought me little joy. There was however one thing visible from up there that was quite a relief.

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It was a trough of flowing hot spring water called "Hot Foot" - a foot spa for weary walkers.

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For 100 yen (about 87 cents) one could buy a small towel, find a spot to sit and enjoy the relaxing waters. Citron bobbed about adding color and a bit of fragrance.

Refreshed, we walked through a gallery of small sculpture and paintings, and headed for the Picasso exhibit. Hakone Open-Air Museum purchased a large collection of plates from one of Picasso's daughters, Maya, as well as oil paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, gold objects, silver compotes, gemmail glass art, and tapestries. I'm not a big fan of his (I lean toward the impressionists before him) but it was interesting to see anyway, and I especially liked the photographs of him at work in his studio.

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Another great museum in Hakone which we'd like to take in someday is the Pola. The impressionist works we saw in February of last year (post: Second Impressions) were borrowed from there. But for the short time we had, a visit to Hakone Open-Air Museum was obviously a must and we like to visit there again too.

By the time we left the Picasso Pavillion, it was almost closing time. Besides, footbath spa or no, we were feeling a bit like this -

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So it was back to the hotel for dinner and a well deserved rest. The next day we hoped to see Fuji-san. We had enjoyed good weather this day - better than we had expected - but things appeared to be changing...uh-oh...

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つづく (to be continued).... in "The Pirates of Ashinoko"

13 comments:

ladybug said...

This is just my kind of perfect day! If we ever get to Japan, this museum is on our list! Most cities have some statuary here and there in parks, but not such a great collection as this.

I've been to one in Washington D.C. that was nice, but it's in a very small space, with no mountain views of course.

I road an old train like the Swiss one in the Black Forest in Germandy up to a hotel I worked at one summer in college. We were within 100 miles of the border (we ended up staying in a youth hostel in Geneva when we left) - but we had to leave the next day as Switzerland was too expensive for backpackers!

The Moody Minstrel said...

That's one place in Hakone I have yet to visit, so I guess I'd better put it on my list, too.

Hmm...I've never tried playing my sax naked before. I wonder if it would improve audience response.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

A brilliant day indeed and some amazing sculptures and stained glass. Thanks for the wonderful photographs.
w.

Pandabonium said...

Ladybug - It was amazing day, if not perfect (but close). Now that I've seen it, I highly recommend the Hakone area in general and this museum in particular.

Your experience in Germany /Switzerland sounds great. I've seen a sliver of Germany through a band tour. Would love to spend more time. Sigh. So many destinations, so little fare.

Moody - yes, go. They've got some really cool 'hands on' sculpture for kids too - a maze, climbing one made up of monkeys linked together, and more. Wonderful place for all.

Wendy - thank you. I loved it there. I've been visiting your blog without comment and I should at least let you know I've been there. Really have enjoyed your posts. The history of the Ba hospital was particularly interesting a while back.

Don Snabulus said...

That is a pretty neat museum. That definitely goes on the list. As always, the pix are fabulous!

Pandabonium said...

Moody said, "Hmm...I've never tried playing my sax naked before. I wonder if it would improve audience response."

I think you'd get a response all right! Something like THIS.

Snabby - do. Like Nikko, Hakone and Kamakura are close to Tokyo, so easy to add to a vacation itinerary.

PinkPanther said...

I haven't been to a such GREEN place for a long time. I think I live in a stone forest.

I like your quote sound abt. get a response to Moody's comment. {L.O.L.} from female audiences? ;-)

Swinebread said...

Truly inspirational, I love that the whole museum is nestled in the mountains.
You can never see it all… I’ll remember that if I ever have a chance to go and try to plan accordingly

I’ve always been interested in the Japanese view/reaction to western art, but I can’t seem to pry that reaction out of many them. The Japanese display it, buy it, go to great lengths to view it and yet their reactions are still so private and guarded. Maybe that’s what makes your picture seem even more evocative for me.

The Symphonic Sculpture would be totally ugly in the middle of a city, but here it’s a masterpiece in harmony with nature. It’s making me rethink buildings I though were ugly or old.

Pandabonium said...

Swinebread - perceptive comments. I'm not sure about individual responses to Western art here, other than noting that museums have impressive collections of it and exhibits are quite popular. Japan embraced Western art along with technology in the Meiji era, as well as sharing their art with the west. In The Red Gazebo, I wrote about Tenshin Kakuzo Okakura, (1863-1913) an artist who studied Western art (he also became curator of Asian Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Art). He feared Western Art would overwhelm Asian art and so trained artists to learn from the West but not imitate it. He also shared Asian art with the West. Japanese art greatly influenced the West, particularly the impressionists.

As Japan's economy rose in the decades after WWII, acquisition of Western art accelerated. (Hakone Open Air was founded in 1969.)

I am sure some people in Japan view art because they think that they "should". But probably people everywhere enjoy it as a kind of universal way of expressing the human experience, though, as with music, with varied local nuances.

I'd like to see the Symphony tower at night - all lit up from inside.
Perhaps you're right about the site influencing the merit of the design. Perhaps in cities we can see the "trees" for the "forest" sometimes.

Reena said...

Those are truly amazing pictures.

Pandabonium said...

Reena - thank you. So nice to have you visit.

Lrong said...

Wow... looks like you just had a super-super trip there... must have been quite taxing on your body to cover all those spaces...

Pandabonium said...

Lrong - hi. more to come. the taxing part was toting the bags around - uhg. :p But it was beautiful there.