I remember reading The Little Prince for a book report in third grade. I did not appreciate the story in the beginning, mostly because I felt like it was trying to tell me life lessons with allegoric interactions between the characters. They were hard concepts to grasp as a kid. As I got older, I finally understood the subtle nuances of the story, from what each of the characters represented to what their conversations actually mean.
When I found out that there was a museum dedicated to Saint-Exupéry and his beloved story, I knew I had to visit. It was easy to find as it’s located next to other popular museums in Hakone. From the bus stop, it’s only a five minute walk to the Little Prince Museum. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by an ornate European gate with a subtle “Le Petit Prince” flag.
The entrance made it seemed like I was transported to a small European town. There is a small globe fountain with a statue of the Little Prince. The ticket booth is located in a small European mansion, complete with tiled roofs and ornate lamps.
It’s not a big museum, I reckon it’s about two hours to complete the tour. The whole exhibit hall is located in the big building with faux Parisian stores.
These two stores are my favorite! There’s nothing inside, of course, but a great façade all the same.
Right across the Parisian buildings, there is a small, creepy chapel. This is a recreation of the chapel where Antoine Saint-Exupéry spent most of his time as a child. You can hear operatic music being played inside.
One of my favorite spots in the museum is this bright blue door. I think it’s a perfect backdrop for a cool OOTD photo.
Entering the exhibit hall, you will be greeted by murals depicting scenes from the book and small knick knacks relating to the book and movie.
I believe they used the statue below as a guide for the movie.
If the plane in the book was a hundred times bigger, I imagine this is how it would look like. The table was also filled with notes about the book. I think you’re welcome to touch the display but I opted not to.
The theater is straight through the exhibit hall. At this time, they are showing a short recap about the new movie of a girl being told the story of the little prince by the old pilot (see here). It is in Japanese so please ask the reception for English headsets.
After watching the trailer in the theater, you may go through the other part of the exhibit hall which contains dioramas and pictures of the life of Antoine Saint-Exupéry, from when he was little to when he started writing the little prince novel, until his death. There is an English pamphlet explaining each part of the exhibit so be sure to get one before you start exploring. Photography is strictly not allowed in this area of the museum.
After we finished the exhibit, we decided to walk to the garden. An attendant mentioned that there was going to be an illumination show at 5:30, so while we were waiting we decided to visit the souvenir store next to Restaurant Le Petit Prince.
5:30 finally rolled around, and my mom and I were happy we stayed to see the illumination. It was a magical experience complete with dancing Christmas lights, playful music and scenes of the book projected on the wall.
The Little Prince Museum is easily accessed by the Hakone Tozan Bus from Hakone Yumoto station to The Little Prince bus stop.
909 Sengokuhara, Hakone-machi,
9:00 AM – 6:00 PM
*Last admission 5:00 PM
Senior, University or High School Student: ¥1,100
Junior High or Elementary Student: ¥700
The cafe and restaurant is open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Last orders are at 5:00 PM. They are apparently open until 9:00 PM during Golden Week, Christmas and some days during the summer (August). I did not get the chance to eat in this restaurant but the decor in itself seems perfect for some afternoon coffee in between visiting Hakone museums.