With a diameter of about 16km, and a population of around 3200, Naoshima, the Seto Inland Sea’s ‘island of art’ is located in northern Kagawa prefecture. Despite being small, it’s famous for the fact that dotted throughout you can see works of art.
Ferries to Naoshima Island leave from both sides of the sea: from Uno harbor, located in Tamano city, Okayama prefecture, and from Takamatsu harbor in Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture. The time required for the trip is 20 minutes from Uno port and 50 minutes from Takamatsu port. So, although it’s an island that belongs to Kagawa prefecture, it’s closer to Okayama prefecture.
In addition to the pleasant sea breezes, on board the ferry you can also enjoy the beauty of the Seto Inland Sea’s multiple large and small islands abundant with greenery.
As Naoshima Island’s Miyaura port looms, the first piece of art that catches the eye is the “Red Pumpkin” by Yayoi Kusama, the international artist known for her works featuring polka dot motifs – It has become a symbol of the island.
One of the charms of the Island is that here and there you can see artworks that have become one with nature…
When the weather is fine, do visit the Benesse House Museum. It’s a combination of art museum, hotel and includes a restaurant. Within the grounds there are plenty of artworks on display, and even non-guests are welcome to freely appreciate them.
This is “Shipyard Works: Stern with Hole”, a work by Shinro Ohtake, a modern artist who works on a wide range of projects from his base in Uwajima city in Ehime prefecture. Using the ground as a canvas, countless rays of light with the blue ocean in the background create a beautiful pattern.
Depending on the season, the weather, as well as the time of day you visit, the outdoor works have an infinite number of faces. Seeing these various faces is also part of the charm!
In the foreground is “La Conversation” by Niki de Saint Phalle, a French artist. And in the background is “Frog and Cat” by Karel Appel, a Dutch artist.
This is “Le Banc”, a Niki de Saint Phalle work that makes you want to sit down next to it and take a glimpse at what it’s reading!
These colorful works filled with playfulness integrate strangely well into the beach scenery.
This is another Yayoi Kusama piece called “Pumpkin” that together with “Red Pumpkin” has become a symbol of Naoshima Island.
There are still plenty of works at the beach and within the forest, as well as within the facilities, so come see the rest with your own eyes! Walking among Seto Inland Sea’s abundant nature, you can meet art in the most unexpected places!
In between admiring artworks, I take a short break and gaze at the beautiful sea that is so blue it feels you could almost be sucked in by it. This kind of luxury, too, is characteristic of Naoshima Island.
In town there are also art works that don’t lose to those in the museum area.
Naoshima Island’s public bath, “I♥湯” (I ♥ Yu, ‘Yu’ refers to the hot water of the bath) is an active bathhouse frequented by locals.
Using the scrapbook method, Shinro Ohtake, a modern artist, collected various items from all over Japan and created a collage. Naturally, the exterior and interior as well as the actual baths, the pictures on the walls, the mosaic pictures, and even the toilet porcelain are elaborately designed.
Also, don’t miss the original artistic bathhouse goods from the hand towels and the bath pail that make perfect souvenirs.
If you wish to immerse in the world of art with your whole body, do try taking a bath!
Benesse House Museum
Address: Gotanji, Naoshima-cho, Kagawa district, Kagawa prefecture
Open hours: 8.00-21.00 (Last entry at 20.00)
Holidays: No holidays
Admission: JPY1030 (Free entrance for under 15-year-olds & Benesse House guests )
*Outdoor works can be seen free of charge
Naoshima Island Public Bath
Address: 2252-2 Naoshima-cho, Kagawa district, Kagawa prefecture
Open: Weekdays 14.00-21.00, Sat, Sun & Holidays 10.00-21.00 (Reception ends at 20.30)
Closed: Mondays (If Monday is a public holiday, closed on the following day), New Year’s holidays, during maintenance
Admission: JPY510 (Naoshima Island locals JPY310) , Under 15-year-olds JPY210 (Children under 3 free of charge)
The Setouchi Finder Editors
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