Museum of The Little Prince in Hakone
The Little Prince, the children’s book by French author Antoine de Saint-Exupery, is a global best-seller having sold more than 145 million copies in 300 languages and dialects. In fact, it is said to be the most translated book after the Bible.
At the Museum of The Little Prince in Hakone, you can experience the world of this beloved classic of children’s literature. The museum opened in 1999 as part of a worldwide project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Saint-Exupery’s birth.
The courtyard at the entrance features a sculpture of the Little Prince standing on top of B 612, the asteroid that is his home planet, and once you pass through the gates, you will find yourself transported into the world of the Little Prince.
After walking down a short, winding path, you arrive at the spacious Rose Garden. Rows of roses emanate from a sculpture in the center of the garden that depicts the famous scene in the book where the Little Prince puts up a screen to protect a rose from the wind.
When the museum first opened, it had trouble getting the roses to grow, but with the assistance of garden designer Keiko Yoshitani and several rose experts, the garden now bursts into full bloom every year between June and early July.
The paths in the park are named after characters in the book, like King’s Street, Boa Constrictor’s Path, and Drunkard’s Street. What’s more, the manhole covers feature characters from the book, and the benches are inscribed with “orders” from the King, so you can enjoy hunting these out as you stroll the grounds.
The buildings, which are meant to conjure up images of Saint-Exupery’s home of France, house Exhibition Halls. There is also a Projection Hall, which evokes images of sandy Morocco, where Saint-Exupery once lived, where you can watch a 15-minute video on the making of The Little Prince.
Saint-Exupery was born into an aristocratic family in Lyon, France, and in addition to writing, he was also a pilot. He disappeared while flying a reconnaissance mission over the Mediterranean Sea in 1944 during World War II. The Exhibition Halls house numerous photographs, letters, and other objects from his eventful life as well as re-creations of his offices.
The last stop before you leave the grounds is a popular spot to take photographs—a French garden featuring a replica of Chateau Saint-Maurice-de-Rémens, Saint-Exupery’s childhood home.
Enjoy the world of The Little Prince at the restaurant, too
The museum restaurant, Le Petit Prince, not only takes its name from the original French title of the book, its menu also draws inspiration from it.
The menu changes seasonally, but these photos were taken during the winter. Dishes include the volcano gratin hamburg steak, the yellow snake tomato cream pasta, and the desert well spicy curry, but
the boa constrictor omelet rice is one of the most popular items.
It shaped to look like the illustration of “a boa constrictor digesting an elephant” from the beginning of the book. One of the reasons The Little Prince struck a chord with so many people around the world was Saint-Exupery’s distinctive illustrations.
And when you’re in the restaurant, keep your eyes peeled for the boa constrictors hidden around the room.
Another popular item is the Le Petit Prince fluffy pancakes. Try them with the Vain Man’s rose tea.
You can visit the restaurant and the gift shop, Cinq Cents Millions de Grelots Bell, without paying admission to the museum. Food is served from 11:30 until 17:00 (last order), so if you’ve missed lunch, you can still stop in for something to eat.
(Information current as of November 30, 2017)
Address: 909 Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi, Ashigarashimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture
Open:9:00 – 18:00 (Last entry: 17:00) Exhibition Hall: 9:00 – 17:30
Restaurant Hours: 11:00 – 18:00 (L.O. 17:30, dessert 17:00 L.O.), food menu: 11:30 – 17:00 (L.O.)
* Closed temporarily for maintenance Jan. 9-12, 2018
* Closed every second Wednesday (excluding March and August) starting in April 2018
Admission: Adults ¥1,600
Access: 30-minute ride on the Hakone Tozan Bus bound for Togendai from Hakone-Yumoto Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway; or
20-minute ride on the Kanko Shisetsu Meguri Bus bound for either Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands or Gotemba Premium Outlets from Gora Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway. Located immediately in front of the Kawamukai/Museum of the Little Prince bus stop. 15-minute drive from Hakone Honbako.