Hakone is the last place you would expect to find a museum dedicated to Antoine de Saint-Exupery's Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), but Japan can be surprising. A quaint place, where the adorable, French-inspired buildings stand, quiet and unassuming, and that's the beauty of it.
This was the reception area where you buy tickets - filled with roses, painted stars and the most adorable wallpaper in the world~
The tour map they gave us was a rose that expanded out with a hand-drawn map of the museum, drawings from the book, tidbits about the author's life and small games for children. So adorable. I'm not sure if there were guided tours available, but I think we chose to just wander around ourselves
The streets in the museum are reproductions of Lyon and Paris in the 1900s and the beautiful gardens were maintained in the Provence style.
You basically followed the winding stone paths, edged with tiny hedges, along the museum. There were statues of all the characters from the story dispersed throughout the gardens and even a small church.
The window displays in almost every shop window were different, themed and impeccably crafted. It's funny because we often see these sorts of brands (Italian/French) in Sydney, but it's just not something you expect in Japan. They were a bit hard to photograph through the glass though, as you can see.
The French cafe had (blurry) waiters dressed in European style clothes. We didn't have much time to go in and have a coffee or something, though I wish we did now, looking back.
We couldn't take photos inside the exhibition hall, but you basically wandered through a large house that features all kinds of information about the author's life and the path to creating Le Petit Prince. It's been almost 2 years since I went so I can't really remember much.
We went on an 'off' day so the museum was pretty much deserted. It was incredibly peaceful to wander around and just soak up the ambiance of the place.
The souvenir shop had all manner of Le Petit Prince merchandise, from different versions of the book to mugs and pins and soft toys. Unfortunately, I was pretty much running out of money by that point (Japan 2010: a long story involving unlucky immune systems and personal expenses fail) so I didn't end up buying anything.
If you love Le Petit Prince and want to find a pocket of quiet European appreciation in Japan, the Museum is worth a visit. Make sure you bring enough money so you can splurge on souvenirs ;v;