Pola Museum of Art
Opened in 2002, the Pola Museum of Art houses a large collection of 19th century French impressionist paintings, yōga (Western-style paintings by Japanese artists), Japanese paintings, prints, and Oriental ceramics. The collection, which numbers around 10,000 pieces was accumulated by Suzuki Tsuneshi, the second president of Pola.
The museum was established to realize a “symbiosis between Hakone’s natural beauty and the works of art.” When you enter, you may think that it is not a very large museum, but most of the exhibition rooms are located underground because the height of the above-ground portion of the museum was limited to eight meters so as not to interfere with Hakone’s natural beauty.
The exhibition hall is equipped with fiber optic lighting whose light is as close to natural light as possible and embodies the museum’s concept of “dusk in Paris in July.” This provides the best conditions for viewing the beautiful impressionist paintings.
The museum boasts one of the biggest collections in Japan of works by painters such as Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Pablo Picasso as well as many other well-known artists.
Although the museum is known for its paintings, its collection of ceramics is also bar-none, featuring numerous ancient and contemporary pieces from China, Japan, and Korea. The Art Nouveau and Art Deco glass pieces by the likes of Émile Gallé and the Daum Brothers are also popular.
And since Pola is a cosmetics manufacturer, its collection of makeup tools is one of the finest in the world. It counts 6,700 pieces, including 19th century British coral inlaid makeup cases, Japanese wedding makeup tools, perfume bottles, glass makeup sets, and face powder cases—all of which are beautiful works of art in their own respect. The museum’s unique exhibit provides a glimpse into the history of the tools women around the world have used to beautify themselves.
The museum restaurant also offers vegetarian fare
The Pola Museum of Art Nature Trail, which opened in 2013, winds through the beautiful beech and Japanese stewartia forest of Sengokuhara. The course takes about 20 minutes to complete. Different birds visit throughout the year, and you can enjoy their singing as you leisurely stroll through the woods. With gently sloping hills, a side path through a wetland, and various sculptures along the trail, visitors can enjoy a diverse array of scenery.
Meanwhile, at the museum restaurant, Array, you can enjoy a gorgeous view of the surrounding forest from the large windows while you dine. Try the lunch set (¥2,380), which comes with your choice of a fish or meat entree, or the the Pola Museum of Art original seafood curry (¥1,510). Concurrent with special exhibits, the museum also offers artists’ favorite dishes and specialty items from the places associated with the artists whose works are on display.
Meanwhile, the Pola Museum of Art is the first museum in Japan to adopt the socially conscious Table for Two program. When you order one of the nutritious, low calorie meals, which are designed to avoid lifestyle diseases related to obesity, a portion of your bill will be donated to school lunch programs in developing countries.
The healthy low calorie course (¥1,940) features steamed vegetables and seafood with a side of onion dressing and aioli, bread, salad, and coffee or tea. For every course ordered, \20 is donated to Table for Two International.
And good news for vegetarians! Array is one of the few vegetarian dining options in Hakone. You can have fish removed from this course and just enjoy the steamed veggies. Also, the aioli contains eggs, so vegetarians who don’t eat eggs can avoid this sauce and use the onion dressing.
Address: 1285 Kozukayama, Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture
Open: 9:00 – 17:00 (Last entry: 16:30)
Closed: Never (Except when changing exhibits)
Admission: Adults: \1,800
Access: 40-minute ride on the direct Hakone Tozan Bus from Hakone-Yumoto Station, or 15-minute ride on the Kanko Shisetsu Meguri Bus bound for Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands from Gora Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway. Get off at the Pola Museum of Art bus stop. 10-minute drive from Hakone Honbako.
Official homepage: http://www.polamuseum.or.jp