Nestled deep and almost hidden away in the forested mountains of Hakone is the Pola Museum. It hosts a wide variety of artwork, collected over many decades, that includes local Japanese art, Western paintings, East Asian Pottery, and much more. While it may be a bit of a trek, Pola Museum can be a nice escape to nature for those who want to adventure away from the busy cityscape of Tokyo.
The museum is dedicated to natural beauty and art, and to do so with only minimally impact to nature and the national park it is a part of. Completed and opened in 2002, the Pola Museum was the dream of Tsuneshi Suzuki to share his massive collection of art that was personally collected over more than 40-years of his life. Sadly, Tsuneshi Suzuki passed away before the museum opened. Nevertheless, Pola, the company Tsuneshi Suzuki served as director of, continued the construction and opened Pola Museum. The museum has since expanded its scope and has incorporated additional works of art, workshops, events, and more.
Beyond the art, the museum has a few additional things to offer. If you find yourself hungry, Pola Museum has a restaurant that serves seasonal European-style dishes or a café if you just want a light snack or tasty dessert, both are served in spacious area filled with natural light. The museum also has a nice souvenir shop filled with original items that are perfect for a reminder of your trip or as gifts to friends and family.
Admission cost is by age/grade: Seniors (65+) 1,600-yen, Adults 1,800-yen, High School student 1,300-yen, Junior High School students and younger are Free. Visitors with disabilities (proof required) and one attendant may be able to get admission at a discounted rate (read about disability IDs and discounts). Hours of operation are from 9:00 until 17:00 every day (last entry 4:30PM / Temporarily closed while exhibitions are being changed).
While Pola Museum of Art is open throughout the year, it does reserve the right to close for bad weather. If you are going to travel a bit to this location and may think the weather could become a concern, it is recommended to call first.
Pola Museum is in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture. The closest station is Gora Station, it is a 15-minute bus/car ride from the Pola Museum. The steep hills and lack of sidewalk prevent traveling by foot/wheelchair.
The bus from Gora Station is accessible but there is not enough room to deploy the bus’ ramp at the bus stop, so speak to the bus company staff (just across the train tracks in the bus turn-about) and they will let you on the bus there. Unlike the buses in the city, the buses in Hakone have a very steep ramp and most users will need assistance to get on and off. Additionally, the roads in the area have many ups and downs, as well as sharp curves so wheelchair users will need to be strapped down.
The bus stop at the museum is wide and easy to use.
The main entrance starts at the top of the museum. While there is a ramp leading to this entrance, there are escalators leading down into the museum. They can be adapted for wheelchair use, but have a very narrow platform and it is not recommended for wheelchair users.
Instead guests who use a wheelchair that visit the Pola Museum can enter the museum by means of a sloped concrete pathway from the parking area (road leading down on the right side of the museum). Take the road down as there is a step at the end of the sidewalk.
An elevator is available within the museum, beyond the stairs, that lead from the lobby to the other levels of the museum. Seating areas are available in multiple areas of the museum for those who need to rest between walking. For those who would like to borrow a wheelchair, inquire at the museum’s reception desk. Service dogs (seeing-eye dogs, assistance dogs, and hearing dogs) are allowed in the building but there is little to no tactile pavement.
There are wheelchair accessible toilets available on 1F & B1F levels. They are rather small and may be difficult to use for some visitors.
There is a nature trail spotted with sculptures, but due to the mountainous terrain it is almost entirely composed of steps and stairs. There are YouTube videos of the trail (like this one) if you are interested in seeing the trail.
It may be a bit of a trek to get to Pola Museum, but if you are into art and nature, you are certain to find something interesting to discover. At minimum you could spend a few hours looking around the museum, or easily a whole day exploring the art in depth. Hakone does have many things to offer, so you may want to make Pola Museum of Art as one of your stops if you find yourself in the area.
Main Image Credit: By 663highland, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=86162575
- Phone: +81-460-84-2111
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