Free your mind and soul in Naoshima – The Art Island

1-3 Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin.JPG

Located in the Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima is a paradise for art lovers. World-class museums designed by Japan’s legendary architect Tadao Ando and artworks by many famous artists are dispersed all over the island. One of the main venues of the acclaimed Setouchi Triennale Art Festival, Naoshima is an art sanctuary enveloped by the grandeur of Nature. Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and spend a day exploring artworks in the awe-inspiring setting of ocean, mountains and architectural marvels. The serenity of the island and synergy of art and architecture will free your mind and soul!


1-1 Benesse House Museum.JPG

Start your day with a visit to Benesse House Museum, the center of the Art Island. Integrating modern art museum and hotel, this complex is designed based on the concept of “coexistence of Nature, art and architecture”. You can get lost in the maze of renowned artists’ artworks that are accentuated by natural lighting from different corners of the museum. Artworks are found everywhere in the building even outside the galleries; along the shore, by the cliffs and in the nearby forest. Many artists have created intriguing site-specific installations which interact closely with the natural environment, like Yayoi Kusama’s iconic pumpkin.

Coexistence of Nature, Art, Architecture (Benesse House Museum’s exterior)

Coexistence of Nature, Art, Architecture (Benesse House Museum’s exterior)

Niki de Saint Phalle's Camel (Benesse House Museum’s surroundings)

Niki de Saint Phalle's Camel (Benesse House Museum’s surroundings)

George Ricky's Three Squares Vertical Diagonal (Benesse House Museum’s surroundings)

George Ricky's Three Squares Vertical Diagonal (Benesse House Museum’s surroundings)

Access InformatioN

Opening hours: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm, last admittance 8:00 pm

Closed: Open year-round

Admission: 1030 yen, free admission for children of 15 and under

Directions

a) Take Naoshima town bus from Miyanoura port (10 mins) or Honmura port (4 mins) to Tsutsuji-so bus stop (100 yen per trip)

b) Take Benesse’s free shuttle bus from Tsutsuji-so bus stop to Benesse House museum (3 mins) or walk (700m, 15 mins)


Scenic view of Seto Inland Sea from Chichu Café (Chichu Art Museum’s Chichu Café)

Scenic view of Seto Inland Sea from Chichu Café (Chichu Art Museum’s Chichu Café)


3. Chichu Art Museum

Next, head to Chichu Art museum, a primarily subterranean museum overlooking the ocean. Depending on the time of your visit, you can enjoy a unique viewing experience as the museum utilizes natural lighting to illuminate the artworks. Immerse in the tranquillity of Chichu Garden as you enter the museum. A white underground chamber exhibits five paintings from Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” series. The next space displays a spectacular installation by Walter De Maria. In the third space, James Turrell’s artworks create enthralling optical illusions. After visiting three museums, treat yourself to a well-deserved lunch at Chichu Café and panoramic views of the ocean.

Chichu Art Museum’s Chichu Café

Chichu Art Museum’s Chichu Café

1-16 Scenic view of Seto Inland Sea.JPG

Access information

Opening hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (March 1 – September 30), 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (October 1 – last day of February), last admittance 1 hour before closing time

Closed: Mondays (open on Mondays for national holidays but closed the next day)

Admission: 2060 yen, free admission for children of 15 and under

Direction: Take Benesse’s free shuttle bus to Chichu Art Museum (3 mins) or walk (500m, 10 mins)


8 Lee Ufan Museum.JPG

A collaboration between Korean contemporary artist Lee Ufan and Tadao Ando, this semi-underground museum showcases Lee’s paintings and sculptures. Nestled in a gentle valley surrounded by hills and the ocean, the museum offers a contemplative space and quiet time for you to reflect on yourself and the natural landscape. Seek peace in the harmony of Nature, art and architecture as you wander through the art installations that resonate with the vast open space. After exploring the exterior of the museum, you can venture into the inner rooms that are filled with the dynamism and stillness of Lee’s artworks.

Relatum-Dialogue

Relatum-Dialogue

Staff of Titan

Staff of Titan

Ando's concrete with sky (Lee Ufan Museum’s entrance

Ando's concrete with sky (Lee Ufan Museum’s entrance

Access information

Opening hours: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm (March 1 – September 30), 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (October 1 – last day of February), last admittance 1 hour before closing time

Closed: Mondays (Open on Mondays for national holidays but closed the next day)

Admission: 1030 yen, free admission for children of 15 and under

Direction: Take Benesse’s free shuttle bus to Lee Ufan Museum (3 mins) or walk (500m, 10 mins)


4. The Art House Project

The Art House Project is a collection of seven art houses shattered all over the Honmura district. The artists were commissioned to restore and convert the old residential houses into site-specific artworks. You can embark on a treasure hunt to find the artworks that look like ordinary houses in the traditional Japanese neighbourhood. Experience how art is weaved organically into the fabrics of history and memories of the place as you explore thought-provoking art like Gokaisho’s playful minimalism, Go’o Shrine’s underground secret, Haisha’s postmodern eccentricity, Ishibashi’s zen ambience, Kadoya’s illuminated digits, Kinza’s meditative space and Minamidera’s enlightening darkness.

Haisha by Shinro Ohtake

Haisha by Shinro Ohtake

Go’o Shrine by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Go’o Shrine by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Access information

Opening hours: 10:00 am - 4:30 pm

* Visitors are welcome to view and pray at any time at the main and front shrine areas of Go'o Shrine

For Minamidera, a fixed number of visitors is admitted every 15 mins. On crowded days, visitors have to get a timed ticket for entry

Closed: Mondays (open on Mondays for national holidays but closed the next day)

Admission: Multi-site ticket for six art houses (excluding Kinza): 1030 yen, single-site ticket for one art house (excluding Kinza): 410 yen, free admission for children of 15 and under

Directions

a) Take Benesse’s free shuttle bus to Benesse Art House (3 mins) or walk to Benesse Art House (1 km, 20 mins)

b) Take Naoshima town bus from Tsutsuji-so to Nokyo-mae bus stop (5 mins) (100 yen per trip)


100-year-old Traditional House (Ando Museum’s exterior)

100-year-old Traditional House (Ando Museum’s exterior)

Naoshima is often called “Ando’s island” as Tadao Ando left his architectural imprints on the island. A trip to the island must be accompanied by a pilgrimage to Ando Museum which is housed in a venerable 100-year-old residence. Ando revitalized the historical house and redesigned the inner structure by framing the traditional wooden exterior with his signature concrete walls. The juxtaposition of tradition and modernity creates an introspective space for visitors to learn about Ando’s architecture and Naoshima’s history. The interplay between natural light and shadows illuminates the exhibits, especially the intricate model of his magnum opus “The Church of the Light”.

Access information

Opening hours: 10:00 am - 4:30 pm

Closed: Mondays (open on Mondays for national holidays but closed the next day)

Admission: 510 yen, free admission for children of 15 and under


6. 007 “The Man with the Red Tattoo” Museum

1-24 The 007 Museum.JPG

This museum is dedicated to the novel "The Man with the Red Tattoo" by Raymond Benson. The story is set on Naoshima but it was never made into a movie. The museum aims to raise awareness about Naoshima’s connection to the James Bond’s franchise. Even if you are not a James Bond’s fan, you can still take a short detour to this small but compact museum, as there is no entrance fee. The museum exhibits a variety of James Bond’s paraphernalia especially "You Only Live Twice", the only James Bond movie filmed in Japan.

James Bond's Exhibition

James Bond's Exhibition

Access information

Opening hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Closed: New Year holidays

Admission: Free

Directions

a)    Take Naoshima town bus from Nokyo-mae to Miyanoura port bus stop (4 mins)  (100 yen per trip)

b)    Walk to the 007 “The Man with the Red Tattoo” Museum  (200m, 2 mins)


Ceramic Mosaic Art (Naoshima Bath’s entrance)

Ceramic Mosaic Art (Naoshima Bath’s entrance)

End your artistic explorations at Naoshima Bath “I Love YU”. Designed by Shinro Ohtake, this social space is a combination of a public Japanese bathhouse and art installations. Do not worry if you forget to bring bath essentials as the bathhouse sells goods like towels and toiletries. After rewarding yourself with a relaxing bath and a visual feast of ceramic art, walk to the nearby SANAA-designed Marine Station at Miyanoura port and say goodbye to Yayoi Kusama’s red pumpkin. After spending an inspiring day on Naoshima, you will feel your mind liberated and soul enriched as you board the ferry!

Access information

Opening hours: 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm (weekdays), 10:00 am – 9:00 pm (weekend/holidays), last admittance 30 mins before closing time

Closed: Mondays (Open on Mondays for national holidays but closed the next day, closed temporality for maintenance as needed)

Admission: 510 yen

Tips: Bring towels and toiletries!


General Transportation Information

1-32 Miyanoura Port.JPG

Ferry

Naoshima has 2 ports: Miyanoura and Honmura port

a) From Takamatsu ferry terminal to Miyanoura port: 1 hour (520 yen), 25 mins (1220 yen for high speed ferry)

b) From Uno station to Miyanoura or Honmura port: 20 mins (290 yen)

 

Around the island

a) Naoshima town bus: 1 or 2 buses run per hour from Miyanoura port via Honmura to the Tsutsuji-so bus stop (100 yen per trip)

b) Benesse’s free shuttle bus: Serve main attractions at the Benesse Art Site (Benesse House Shop, Benesse House Museum, Lee Ufan Museum, Chichu Museum)

c) Bicycle: Available from Miyanoura port for 500 yen per day and electric assisted bicycles for 2000 yen per day

Spot Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin from Miyanoura port!

Spot Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin from Miyanoura port!


This article was published in ANA Experience Japan website 2016-2018. Please check official sites to verify information like opening hours and cost.

Wendy NgComment