For quite a while now, I’ve heard people talk about Hakone–a “small” town near Mt. Fuji, Japan. I put small in quotation marks because I thought a weekend was enough time to check it out… and it wasn’t. But during my time there, I accidentally found a really fun way to spend an afternoon. We stumbled upon it trying to use the parking lot as a turnaround point but decided to go in and see what it was all about after one taking one look at the stunning crystal tree out front.
The Hakone Venetian Glass Museum and Forest is scenic and whimsical. I wasn’t sure what expect initially. But the museum has a beautiful collection of ancient and modern Venetian glass. If you’re interested in learning about the history of Venetian glass, this is a great place for that. If you just like looking at pretty things, this checks that box as well. If the art doesn’t appeal to you though, this place offers more than that.
The grounds of the museum are exceptionally well-kept and include a cafe, restaurant, shops and gelato stand. I had the blood orange gelato and it was AMAZING!!! And very comparable to the gelato in Italy. The museum also includes a walking path through the forest that’s decorated with glass sculptures. The day we went, there was a lively and talented Italian opera singer that serenaded visitors. He sang a variety of songs from serious and romantic to light and cheerful. It really added to the experience.
Dry weather is ideal. The best parts of this hidden gem are outside. The garden is lovely. The hydrangeas were in bloom during my visit, which made it all the more beautiful. And all the crystals really make it sparkle. Overall, it was a really pleasant way to spend a few hours. This place felt like a little piece of Italy in the middle of Japan.