Hakone – Japan’s Amazing Open Air Museum. Close to both Tokyo and Mount Fuji the small town of Hakone holds something of a revelation.
However, unless you are from Japan, you may well not have heard of it. The town plays host to a large open air museum where the works of many famous artists are held - outdoors. It is an attempt (and a successful one) to balance art and nature in harmony. The artworks, combined with the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains give the visitor an unforgettable experience. There are surprises around every corner at this unique museum, sights which will provoke thought and sometimes even laughter.
Perhaps before you start to explore the massive grounds you should visit the extravagant stained glass tower which in the light of summer is like something from a fairy tale. From the top of the staircase you can take a look at what else is on offer - below is just one of the angles to be surveyed from its dizzy heights. Among the more thought provoking pieces is Man and Pagasus by Carl Milles. Ikeshima: Goodbye to old King Coal. About to enter the scruffy ferry ticket office in the Nagasaki port of Seto one leaden noon to book my passage to Ikeshima, I was attacked by a severely depilated Dachshund, its coat a canine topiary.
The reception inside was no more welcoming. Three knocks at long intervals on the frosted slit of a waist-high window finally elicited a pair of gnarled, disembodied hands. Money and tickets were shoved in one direction and the other. “Come back in half an hour”, rasped a gnarled, disembodied voice. “And don’t forget your vehicle roadworthiness certificate.” Lunch came from the Seto Shopping Center, a huge barn of immense decrepitude, where the stench of fish well on the way to its sell-by date saturated everything, even the women’s clothing section, and a bento lunchbox cost just Y198 ($2.30), half a central Tokyo price. The ferry was sailed in but sturdy enough. “What are you going to do on Ikeshima,” one asked with a trace of incredulity. “You could call it that.” I confessed ignorance. Ueno Park, Sakura. Picture perfect for this picnic.
Wish I could have sat down and joined in. Beautiful Sakura. So many people enjoying themselves, whether they were sitting down and drinking or just walking on by. Japanese life under the Sakura wave The empty bottles are lined up, the drawings left behind. Cameras out in force to document the great scene for many. Lots of happy hanami revelers. Plenty of blue tarpaulin laid out for the lucky ones who have reserved their spot. Rilakkuma slippers waiting for their owners to claim the space.
Somebody get that dog a beer ! So many different groups of people coming together to watch the sakura. The sakura trees seem to come together to form a sea of cherry blossoms. The crowds always come to Ueno Park to see the sakura at this time of year. Local Shrine with some nice red color. As at any good matsuri, there is always plenty to eat. A mixture of many things. Tasty corn ready to go. These looked really tasty. Lots of heads bobbing along the road. Pretty in pink.