Hakone Open-Air Museum
Hakone Open-Air Museum
Photo credits: Twitter

Think art and museums, and you can only think of heading west. East, in particular Japan, aren't really known for their museum scene. But if you are an art lover, looking to explore the world of creativity off the beaten path, seven museums in Japan are worth getting lost in.

Hakone Open-Air Museum Spread over 70,000 square meters, this open-air museum in the mountains of Hakone is filled with outdoor sculptures and installations created by both Japanese and international artists. No matter what season, the artworks are always set to beautiful backdrops. The stained-glass Symphonic Sculpture that towers over the garden, allows you to climb stop it offering an unbeatable view.

Aomori Museum of Art The Aomori Museum of Art is housed within a sleek building that itself is an objet d'art, and has on display famous works of art, many of which offer a unique commentary on the country's Aomori culture - its past, present and future. The museum design was inspired by the nearby Sannai Maruyama Jomon Archaeological site (another highly recommended visit) and is located strategically to showcase the connection between the area's history, art and culture.

Nima Sand Museum Nima-born architect Shin Takamatsu drew inspiration from the sands of Kotogahama Beach to create the museum's awe-inspiring glass pyramid structures. It has the world's largest hour glass, which is 5.2 metre tall. On the last day of every calendar year, the gigantic sand-timer is turned upside down to start trickling down one ton of fine sand through the millimetre-wide chamber.

Omiya Bonsai Art Museum Located in Omiya Bonsai Village in Saitama, this museum is home to over 120 bonsai trees, some over 1,000 years old, and draws practitioners and fans from across the globe. Seasonal exhibitions are held throughout the year with hands-on workshops, fairs and festivals to celebrate the time-honoured tradition.

Fujiko F. Fujio Museum An absolute must-visit for anime addicts and manga maniacs - especially for those who grew up with the much-beloved robotic cat, Doraemon! Opened on Doraemon's birthday (September 3) in 2011, the museum opens the Anywhere Door into the world of Doraemon and its creators, Fujiko F. Fujio (of the legendary manga writing duo, Hiroshi Fujimoto and Moto Abiko). Exhibits include original sketches, tools and life-sized props.

Japan Ukiyo-e Museum The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum is the largest private collection of Ukiyo-e, a genre of Japanese woodblock printing and painting that was popular between the late 17th and 19th century. Ukiyo-e literally translates to "pictures from the floating world". The Japan Ukiyoe Museum showcases over 100,000 privately-owned pieces, including prints, painted screens, scrolls and more.

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum Textile master Itchiku Kubota single-handedly revived and modernised an ancient kimono-dying technique called tsujigahana (similar to tie-and-dye). The museum pays homage to his craft, with a kimono collection unmatched in Japan. More than 100 kimono are on permanent display, but only a quarter of them are exhibited at any one time. The collection's highlight is 'The Symphony of Light', a collection of 80 kimonos representing the four seasons. The main building is constructed out of Okinawan coral and limestone providing a unique backdrop to the vibrantly-detailed kimonos.

By Siddhi Jain

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