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.
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.
Nearby, Rodin's Balzac stands in a stoic pose against the mountains.
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.
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".
Henry Moore's 'Reclining Figure' 1969-70
We had good weather the first day and the views from the museum were inspiring.
As we went on, and on, things became curiouser and curiouser.
Some sculptures are beautiful and tender...
some perhaps clever...
others amusing (or confusing - the hares are boxing on a cross) ...
and then there are those which remind us of certain friends....
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.
A sign says something about the symphony which brings joy, and inside, the stained glass tower is quite beautiful.
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...
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.
It was a trough of flowing hot spring water called "Hot Foot" - a foot spa for weary walkers.
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.
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 -
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...
つづく (to be continued).... in "The Pirates of Ashinoko"