Chōkoku

Reminiscing on far-flung places again today, as I sit shivering in my slipper socks. Hakone was the last stop on our tour of Honshu and, to be honest, a little disappointing on the whole. A tourist trap, with the distinct air of faded-glory. People flock there to tour the National Park in an effort to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji. But it’s often shrouded in cloud. We didn’t see it. And I wouldn’t bother with the boat trip across Lake Ashi or the sulphur springs at Owakudani Valley (a hole in the ground with a giant gift shop). The kuro-tamago (“black eggs”) you’re encouraged to taste at the springs are…well, they’re like eggs…with black shells. And they smell of sulphur.

So I wouldn’t recommend a visit to Hakone then? Well…that’s tricky. Because there were nuggets of real interest. The Pola Museum of Art, for example, where we took in a fantastic exhibition by Emile Galle. And the Gora Grill by chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa (of ‘Nobu’ fame). But it was the absolutely stunning Open-Air Museum in Ninotaira that truly saved our stay there…in spectacular fashion!

Opened in 1969 , the OAM was the first alfresco art museum in Japan and the park now houses around 120 works spread over 70,000 square metres. You can spend most of the day there and it made me quite giddy with excitement. Here are a few snaps, which really don’t do justice to the place but hopefully give a sense of its magnificence…

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Ryoji Goto, Intersecting Space Construction (1978)

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Takashi Mine, Primavera (1972)

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Peter Jon Pearce, Curved Space (1979-1994)

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Arnaldo Pomodoro, Sfera con Sfera (1978-80)

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Yuki Shintani, Alba (1972)

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Marta Pan, Floating Sculpture 3 (1969)

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Masamichi Yamamoto, Dream of Ancient Times (1980)

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Tarō Okamoto, L’Homme Végétal (1971)

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Antony Gormley, Close (1993)

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Rainer Kriester, Big Hand (1973)

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Hakone OAM

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Yves Klein, Blue Venus – S41 (1962)

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Shin Yamamoto, [Hey!] (1992)

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Giuliano Vangi, Grande Racconto (2004)

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Carl Miles, Man and Pegasus (1949)

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Barbara Hepworth, Two Figures (1968)

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Santiago de Santiago Hernández, Unidos (1986)

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Tarao Yazaki, Religious Mendicant (1971)

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Joan Miró, Personnage (1972)

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Henry Moore, Large Spindle Piece (1968)

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