Friday, 30 September 2011

Hakone Open-Air Museum: A Walking Wonder

While I was in Japan last year I was lucky enough to be taken to the Hakone Open Air Museum nestled in the mountains of Hakone. A meandering track takes guests around and up close to hundreds of amazing, large scale sculptures which loom out of the grass and greenery like curious, monolithic inhabitants. The layout of the park is fantastically convoluted encouraging you to walk every track to see what you can find. Some of the art pieces are interactive and touchable whereas some move on their own being motorized or capitalizing on the windy highland area.

The Japanese are master walkers and they have the comfortable shoes to prove it! Paths and gardens go together hand in hand as the path is the means to viewing the garden. During the time I was in Japan I rarely saw anyone consciously leave a path to go and walk on the grass whereas in Australia it can be hard to navigate Hyde Park because there are people sitting everywhere. I have often felt a compulsion to take off my shoes and feel the soft grass between my toes but this action seems to be a cultural one. In Australia we seem to view paths as suggestions but in Japan I would say the path is a ruled guideline encouraging walking but not digression.

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