This small Japanese town is hiding a world-class art destination

Hakone is a small resort town and popular day-trip destination outside of Tokyo (Ashigarashimo District, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan). I took the train from Tokyo to Odawara, and then a bus into Hakone itself. My destination was the one of the storied and centuries old traditional Japanese inns (more on that later).

But one of the surprising highlights of the trip was an unassuming art museum. Nestled in the verdant mountains outside of Tokyo is the Hakone Open Air Museum, an unexpected art paradise that successfully merges sculpture art with an idyllic natural setting.

Abstract sculptures dot the landscape like alien spaceships. The verdant lawns and mountainous views meld together with the artwork to create a stunning sense of place. Visitors are encouraged to participate in the art, with a luxurious hot-spring foot bath welcoming you after you step out of the modern cafe.

It's basically an outdoor park, set in a stunning natural location, with a museum attached, and artwork everywhere. They have a Picasso collection! Highly recommended.

The cafe is pretty good too.