Naoshima Island 直島
Photo copyright: Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin 2022 ©YAYOI KUSAMA Photo: Tadasu Yamamoto
A small island has become a global center of contemporary art
Among the islands scattered in the Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima Island is a center of art and culture. Naoshima Island once flourished as a smelter town, but today, it has become an international center for contemporary art. Although the island is only about 8 square kilometers, it is home to works by maestros of contemporary art, impressionist paintings, and architecture such as Yayoi Kusama, Claude Monet, James Turrell, and Tadao Ando. These works can be viewed throughout the year. (Please check the website for operating days and hours of each facility prior to your visit.)
- Yayoi Kusama's representative sculpture “Pumpkin”
- Enjoy the Naoshima Bath “I♥湯,” which is an art facility and a public bathhouse
- Encounter Claude Monet at Chichu Art Museum
How to Get There
Take a ferry to Naoshima Island. The island can be reached from two ports: Miyanoura Port on the west side of the island and Honmura Port on the east side. Ferries to Naoshima Island depart from Takamatsu Port in Kagawa and Uno Port in Okayama.
Electric-assist bicycles can be rented at Miyanoura Port to get around the island. (However, bicycles are not allowed to go in the Benesse House area.) Local buses run from Miyanoura Port to Tsutsujiso. From Tsutsujiso, free shuttle buses to Benesse House Museum, Lee Ufan Museum, and Chichu Art Museum are available.
Contemporary art museum with a stunning view
One of the most popular museums on Naoshima Island is the Benesse House Museum. The museum designed by Tadao Ando combines the both functions of an art gallery and a hotel. It is located on a hill overlooking the Seto Inland Sea.
The museum features site-specific artworks created by world-renowned contemporary artists. Visitors can also discover artworks scattered throughout the natural surroundings outside the museum and along the coastline.
View Claude Monet's “Water Lilies”
The five artworks from Claude Monet's “Water Lilies” series are on display at the Chichu Art Museum. Not to spoil the surrounding landscape, the most structure of the museum is built underground. Monet's paintings are displayed in an impressive totally white room using natural light coming from the ceiling as a light source. The expression of the works changes from moment to moment throughout the day.
In the "Chichu Garden" in front of the museum, visitors can see approximately 200 different kinds of flowers and trees that Monet used as subjects for his works.
Contemporary art you can bathe in
Naoshima Bath “I♥Yu” is both an actual bathhouse and an art installation created by a Japanese artist, Shinro Ohtake. Various items are displayed as art. Why not interact with the locals, relax and unwind, and experience art with your whole body?
Coexistence of art and architecture
The Lee Ufan Museum was created by a Japanese architect, Tadao Ando, in collaboration with Lee Ufan, a leading artist of the “Mono-ha” pioneering art movement of the 1970s. (*Mono-ha refers to a contemporary art movement emerged in Japan from the late 1960's to early 1970's.) This museum gives us time to look at our origins and quietly contemplate.
Observe the interaction between art and everyday life
The Art House Project is a collaboration of art and architecture within the context of community and urban revitalization, where world-renowned artists are transforming houses and other structures into artworks.
While it is possible to view major artworks on Naoshima Island during a one-night stay, but a longer stay is recommended to experience the greater Naoshima area.
The Setouchi Triennale is held on 12 islands in the Seto Inland Sea, including Naoshima Island. Site-specific sculptures, exhibitions, installations, and other works are presented for approximately 100 days running through three seasons, spring, summer, and fall. Although on Naoshima Island, visitors can view a variety of artworks throughout the year, during the Setouchi Triennale, facilities such as the Chichu Art Museum also participate in the Triennale and exhibit more works.
* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.