I had only seen the mammoth sculptures in passing on previous trips to Utsukushigahara Kougen (Plateau). Last weekend I made a special trip just to visit the Utsukushigahara Open Air Museum. At 1000 yen a ticket for adults, I had my doubts, but afterwards I was quite happy with my decision to pay. You can wander for hours! OK, maybe two, so bring some snacks.
It’s definitely worth your time and money to stroll along the trails between, beside, and beneath the works of art. The sculptures range from awe-inspiring to quite bizarre. Basic explanations are in English on plaques next to the art. There is also a nice indoor gallery that is included with you ticket.
The day I went was quite cloudy but I still enjoyed the museum as misty clouds rolled across the plateau, giving a mysterious vibe to the place. But a clear sunny day would have been idea to appreciate the spectacular views of Nagano from the plateau.
If you’re still looking for more to do, check out the dairy farm (go straight instead of turning right for the museum when you’re on the main road). Or, if you’re hungry, look for a river fish “catch and cook” restaurant. There you can “go fishing” and have your freshly caught fish grilled right in front of you. To find the restaurant, which is really more like a picnic area in my opinion, look for “iwana”, a type of river fish, written in hiragana on signs.