Enoura Observatory to Open this Autumn

Enoura August 2016

Photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s long-awaited art complex is due to open this October in Odawara, a coastal city near Tokyo.

The Enoura Observatory, the brainchild of veteran photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, will be a comprehensive art facility located in the city of Odawara, on the coast southwest of Tokyo, about one hour by train from Shinjuku station in central Tokyo.

The spacious complex will be home to art galleries featuring seasonal displays; a Tensho-an tea ceremony room; an underground chamber; a 100-metre long gallery oriented to frame the sun at dawn; a stage made from a huge slab of stone originally destined for the walls of Edo Castle; a reconstruction of a Meigtokyetsu gate donated by the Nezu Museum in Tokyo; and a garden decorated with various rocks and stones collected from all over Japan by Sugimoto himself.

Enoura February 2017

The new development will offer art lovers the chance to get out of town and enjoy art in a part of Japan that means a lot to Sugimoto. It will occupy a scenic coastal site located around fifteen minutes drive from Odawara shinkansen (bullet train) station (observatory address: 362-1 Enoura, Odawara, Kanagawa, Japan).
According to Sugimoto, he was inspired to situate the observatory there due to his earliest childhood memory of catching a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean from the window of a train:
[M]y earliest childhood memory is of the sea seen from the window of the Shonan train, running on the old Tokaido line from Atami to Odawara. When we came out of the twin tunnels, there was the vast Pacific, extending away to a sharp horizon line that snapped my eyes wide open. In that moment I also awoke to the fact that I was me, and that I was here on this earth.
Enoura Winter Solstice 2016
The architectural project will be carried out by the Odawara Art Foundation, which Sugimoto himself founded in 2009 “with the aim of conveying the essence of Japanese culture to a wider audience.” In 2014, the foundation received a grant from the Japan Society of New York to partly fund the observatory’s construction. 
The observatory is scheduled to open to the public on October 9th, 2017. Advanced reservations are required. Detailed information about making reservations will be posted on the Odawara Art Foundation’s official website soon.
Watch an interview with Hiroshi Sugimoto about the forthcoming Enoura Observatory here.


Enoura August 2016

What to do in Odawara

Odawara initially flourished around the castle of the Hojo clan, who ruled the area during the 15th century. The city further prospered during the 17th to 19th centuries as a post town on the Tokaido Highway, which was the main transport artery that linked Edo (now Tokyo) and Kyoto.

Today, the city’s most famous landmark is Odawara Castle. The Hojo clan resided here during the Sengoku period (warring states period) when they were rulers of the Kanto region of eastern Japan. The castle’s park and surroundings are well-known for their plum blossoms in late winter and cherry blossoms in spring. Visitors to the castle can rent samurai outfits or kimono at Honmaru Hiroba square in front of the castle.

Odawara is also the gateway to the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, famous for its hot springs, natural scenery, and picturesque views of Mt Fuji. It makes the ideal jumping off point for visits to many of the area’s top sights, including the following popular attractions:

Hakone Yumoto Hot Spring - Hakone’s most famous onsen (hot spring), which has a long history, good quality water, and numerous ryokan (inns)
Hakone Open Air Museum - colourful and abstract modern art sculptures carefully arranged in the museum’s sprawling grounds with splendid sea and mountain views
Owakudani crater - an active volcanic area full of volcanic wonders such as naturally warm rivers, sulfurous fumes, and onsen-boiled black-shelled eggs
Lake Ashinoko - a caldera lake formed by Mt Hakone’s last eruption 3,000 years ago. Short sightseeing cruises offer picture-perfect views of Mt Fuji on clear days.
Hakone Shrine - an atmospheric forest shrine on the shores of Lake Ashinoko - see the mist-shrouded shrine buildings and eye-catching torii (shrine gates) nestled amongst the trees
Hakone Ropeway - a cable-car route linking Owakudani and the shores of Lake Ashinoko, offering fascinating bird’s eye views of both
All the above facilities can be visited following the popular circular Hakone excursion route using Odakyu Railways’ convenient discount ticket the Hakone Freepass.
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Lake Ashinoko