Hakone Open-Air Museum offers a great combination of art and nature, and is mostly accessible to those with special needs.
Opening in 1969, the Hakone Open-Air Museum (or Hakone Choukoku no Mori Bijutsukan) is Japan’s first open-air museum. The museum has over 1,000 sculptures with about 120 sculptures on permanent display across the huge park. The collection includes works by Picasso, Henry Moore, Taro Okamoto, Yasuo Mizui, Churyo Sato, and many others.
There are indoor exhibits, including a Picasso Pavilion hall which features around 300 of Picasso’s works, sculptures children can play on and a natural hot-spring foot-bath for guests.
The museum is open 9:00 to 17:00 (entry until 16:30) year round. Tickets are ￥1,600 but visitors with a Hakone Free Pass can get a discount.
The museum is a 5 minute walk from Chokoku No Mori Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway. The station is accessible with staff assistance (must enter through a chained-off back area to avoid stairs), however note that the station is only staffed between staff times 9:25～17:00.
Though the Hakone Open-Air Museum is close to the station, it is an uphill walk via a hill.
The main entrance is via an escalator, but staff will direct visitors to the nearby hall with an elevator down to the park grounds.
The path around the park is smooth and all areas may be accessed by wheelchair users. There are some benches to rest on, but they are few and far between, so borrowing a complementary wheelchair is suggested for those with difficulty walking.
There are no tactile blocks on the path for those with visual impairments though an English-language rental audio guide is available for a ¥500 fee. Unfortunately, it scans information from a pamphlet, so assistance will still be needed.
There are a few areas where the path goes along the side of a steep hill with only a small rope between the two – caution should be exercised in these areas.
In the main exhibit building, there is a half-floor only reachable by stairs and inaccessible to wheelchair users. The main gallery is on the second floor has a steep ramp, but staff will help visitors up.
The Symphonic Sculpture and foot bath are not wheelchair accessible. Though it is possible to see a little bit of the inside of the Symphonic Sculpture from the bottom by the stairs.
Several wheelchair accessible toilets are available.
While not every building is accessible and those with difficulty walking may struggle with the distances and hills, there is still plenty to see outside, making the museum a nice place to relax and enjoy art in the mountains of Hakone. Be sure to return before the staff at the station leaves at 17:00 if you need assistance getting on the train.
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