The playful ascent to Hakone’s Open-Air Museum / Japan
Set out on foot. Pass the concrete flower pots lining Hakone’s street, walk over the winding river through town to finally reach the beginning of your day-trip-destination, Hakone Train Station. Now, jump on the achingly adorable Hakone Tozan Cablecar waiting for you on the platform. You can’t miss it – it’s bright red. Find your way to the window seat nearest to either the front, or the back of the carriage. Peer into the driver’s window. Keep an eye on that white glove the driver is wearing to decipher its sign language, seemingly dictating instructions to the train, how to turn, the speed, counting, but what for? Keep watching. Pointing, counting, pointing.
One or two passengers hop on and off at every stop. The once alert, now sleepy eyes of the Japanese passengers fall heavy as you ascend. Look ahead for tunnels, the unexpected darkness is always the most thrilling part. You’re not alone on the mountain. Other charming, bight red cable cars pass you scarily, close on the mountain tracks – the windows are filled with curious faces and now fast asleep ones too. Keep going up, up, up, around, back, forwards (zig, zag) until the lush Japanese forest clears to reveal a huge, open space dotted with strange shapes, structures and curiosities. A playful place, Hakone’s Open-Air Museum.
Forget your age constraints, you don’t need to be a grown up here (you never really did grow up anyway). Explore, the stone paths, look around corners and push past what may seem like a dead end. Keep exploring to find something hidden.
Here’s a little of what I saw. I don’t want to spoil any surprise but the journey there is half the fun and just know this: your curiosity will be rewarded.