Hakone, Tuesday 25-Oct

For a day in which we really only did one thing, it was plenty. That wasn't unexpected since we like having a “down” day every now and then. We also got our first rain of the trip; good thing we were prepared for it to start.

An ordinary start of the day for us; put away the futons, have breakfast, and set out. We took the same train as the day before (the one with the switchbacks) but got off a stop earlier, so we could visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum.

Hakone Open-Air Museum

This museum is a great sculpture venue. As the name implies, it's outdoors, and meant to be viewed in any kind of weather. It started out overcast when we arrived but was showering by the time we left.

We walked up to purchase our tickets, and had printed out a discount coupon; the ¥100 savings wasn't huge, but we'll take it.

When you first enter you see a large plaza with few pieces. It seems to be a good gathering place for tours to start. You can also look out over the valley below, as well as catch sight of some of the pieces you'll be seeing as you start walking around. We saw several large groups of people, including a French group and an Italian group, as well as several groups of kids.

We began our visit at the Main Gallery, where there was a photo exhibit of Kishin Shinoyama's photos taken around the park. It was really impressive work, with prints showing sun, rain, and snow.

Beginning our tour of the sculpture began by going back to the plaza, and we took a meandering route, trying to catch most of if not all of the paths in the museum. There was a stone labyrinth which we walked a bit through. What made it interesting was you didn't stay level, rather some segments sloped up, some down.

Before long we reached the Picasso gallery, which has works of his in many different media. I also found the architecture of the building very interesting, with the half second floor which had a mezzanine on one end.

Going back outside, it began to sprinkle, so we took the opportunity to see another indoor exhibit above the café which was photos of artists, many in their studios or working on a piece. Exiting the building, we went over to the hot spring foot bath. We rented small towels, found a spot on the bench, and started putting our feet in. It took a little while since we had to get used to the 65°F water (about 150°F). It didn't take very long, and it was very relaxing.

With revived feet, we proceeded into the showers to go into “Symphonic Sculpture” which is a cylinder of stained glass with a spiral staircase in the middle. At the very top, you could look out over most all of the park, then descend the other half of the spiral staircase. We then went through a Henry Moore section, then wound through the rest of the park.

It was a little later than our usual lunchtime, so we were more than ready. Rather than eating at the museum's café, we opted to go to a restaurant we saw on the way in, ordering analog (conger eel) don and a chirashi which had a really pretty selection of sashimi on it. They tasted at least as good as they looked.

Getting back to the hostel

We went to the train station but didn't see any way to get over to the other side to catch a train going back to Hakone. We finally decided to just get onto the train for the one stop to Gora, then get back on going the correct direction. Ends up, that particular station only uses the one platform, and the train we happened to board was going our desired direction.

We decided to get off early to see if we could take a look at some waterfalls that Melody spotted on the ride up. We couldn't figure it out but did see a trail, so we walked down it a little way, then turned around to wait for the next train. As we were getting onto the platform, a group of people was going across the tracks to the other platform, happily chatting away. They seemed to be enjoying their day so much, it was fun to watch them.

On the way to the train in the morning, we had seen a manju store, so we stopped by on the way back. They had all sorts, so I picked up a random one to try. I had also seen in the morning what looked like might be some sort of bread or pastry shop, so we stopped by that on the way back. Ends up it was another manju store, so we kept going.

After stopping by the store to pick up breakfast and dinner food, we relaxed a bit for the rest of the afternoon (had the manju, which ended up being black tea and a mixture of different kinds of an filling mixed together), then had dinner. We took turns in the onsen again, this time the outside one (Melody's turn was in the early evening, mine after that). It was a nice setting, but since neither of us had our glasses on, we could only get a general idea of what it looked like.