Naoshima Travel Guide

  • Beauty of Art and Nature
    Beauty of Art and Nature
    by Rabbityama
  • Inside Haisha House
    Inside Haisha House
    by Rabbityama
  • Go'o Shrine
    Go'o Shrine
    by Rabbityama

Naoshima Things to Do

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    by Rabbityama Updated Dec 19, 2012

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    Although the island has various art museums, for me, the best part of this art island is the Art House Project. The Art House Project consists of six buildings (actually seven but the Kinza has a separate fee and requires reservation) already on the island that were given to artists to restore and turn into works of art. The buildings still have their old names.

    Minami-dera was built where the temple of the same name once stood. The building was designed by Tadao Ando and the art inside is by James Turrell. This work plays with light. You enter the room and it appears dark but slowly your eyes adjust and you can start to see.

    The Ishibashi is a restored historic structure. Inside are paintings on the walls and screens by Hiroshi Senju. The waterfall painting is the highlight. It really draws you in and feels surprisingly real.

    The Kadoya is another restored house. Inside are works by Tatsuo Miyajima that use numbers. In particular, the indoor pond with many scattered counters that light up with random numbers is intriguing, as well as pretty and relaxing.

    The Gokaisho is a very simple work by Yoshihiro Suda. Essentially, the structures are open and there are cammellia flowers neatly placed on the tatami mats.

    Go'o Shrine is one of the most interesting. The shrine has been restored and turned into art by Hiroshi Sugimoto. It features a staircase resembling ice blocks that leads from the shrine building to a space underground. You can go below the shrine to see the staircase continue into a pool. The narrow walkway that leads to this area is cool to look at both from outside looking in and inside looking out, so don't be so focused on going in and out that you forget to stop and look.

    The Haisha was a dentist's office restored by Shinro Ohtake. This is the most dramatic house. The outside is eclectic and industrial-looking. Inside it also has an industrial look, with vibrant blue walls and contains interesting art and shapes scattered around the house. From upstairs you can see a recreated Statue of Liberty with a neon sign behind her.

    You can purchase a ticket to see all of the project houses for 1000 yen at the Honmura Lounge and Archive. Alternatively, you can pay 400 yen per site, which will save you money if you only wish to visit one or two sites. I highly recommend visiting all of them, because each is unique and although they were designed independently by each artist without collaborating with one another, the Art House Project itself is an experience which I think requires a visit to each site in order to fully appreciate.

    Inside Haisha House Go'o Shrine Haisha House Kadoya Go'o Shrine
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    • Architecture
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture

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    by Rabbityama Written Dec 4, 2012

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    Yayoi Kusama is one of Japan's most famous and influential modern artists. Her career as an artist began in the 1950s. Throughout her career she has favored polka dots, which can be seen in much of her art. She claims polka dots represent infinity. In 2006 she was commissioned to create the pumpkins as a part of Naoshima's art project. Since then her pumpkins, which feature her polka dot motif, have become symbols of the island.

    "Red Pumpkin" is located at Miyanoura Port. For most visitors, this will be where you arrive on the island. You can see the pumpkin from the boat. Red Pumpkin is, of course, a red pumpkin. The center is hollow and black and some of the polka dots are cut out so you can actually step inside and look out.

    "Yellow Pumpkin" is the most famous and most often used as the symbol of Naoshima. It's located between the Benesse House and the beach at the end of a dock. This pumpkin cannot be entered, but you can walk out on the dock and touch it. If you are boating, you can get many different angles, but even from the shore it's very easy to take good pictures.

    The pumpkins are must-sees for any visitor to Naoshima! They're both public works of art, so enjoying them is free.

    Yayoi Kusama's Yellow Pumpkin Yayoi Kusama's Red Pumpkin Red Pumpkin Sky from Red Pumpkin Yellow Pumpkin
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    • Arts and Culture
    • Study Abroad
    • Family Travel

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    by Rabbityama Updated Nov 27, 2012

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    The I Love Yu Onsen is not a typical onsen, it's actually another part of the island's art. The building's designer is Shinro Otake who also made the Art Project's "Haisha" building, which is one of the most popular. The onsen's name is a play on words: "Yu" means "Onsen (Hot Spring)", so it sounds like "I Love You" but the meaning is "I Love Onsen" which is quite clever, since it is an onsen.

    Otake gathered objects from around the country to create this unique onsen. There's a lot to look at on the outside as well as the inside. The large elephant (named Sadako) located atop the wall that separates the men's onsen from the women's onsen is quite iconic. It's a fun and unique onsen that makes a really nice way to relax after a day of visiting all the art sites.

    Entrance is 500 yen. They sell towels which are also great souvenirs, as well as actual souvenirs with the onsen's name on them.

    I Love Yu Onsen I Love Yu Onsen I Love Yu Onsen I Love Yu Onsen
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    • Singles
    • Arts and Culture
    • Spa and Resort

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Naoshima Transportation

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    by Rabbityama Written Nov 13, 2012

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    At Miyanoura Port, you can pay for bike rentals at the Information Center (Marine Center). They cost 500 yen to rent. They're located across the street and they have regular bikes with baskets as well as mountain bikes.

    Although most of the way is good for biking, it must be said that the island is hilly, so there are parts that are difficult to bike and even where you will probably have to walk your bike.

    If you can bike, I think it's the best way to explore Naoshima. You can go at your own pace and you don't have to wait for the buses. You can visit all the art sites in one day by bike.

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    • Cycling
    • Arts and Culture

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    by Rabbityama Written Nov 12, 2012

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    Naoshima is an island in the Seto Inland Sea, so the only way to reach it is by ferry. There are a few ports from which you can depart from to reach here and if you have a car or motorbike, you can park your car on the ferry and drive on the island.

    From the Honshu mainland, Uno Port in Tamano has ships that come to Naoshima. Uno Port is a short walk from Uno Station, so it's not difficult to reach. The ferries are relatively frequent and the price is only a300 yen. Most of the ferries go to Miyanoura Port, and that is the best port to enter. It's where the visitor center is located, as well as the bicycle rentals. Some ferrie however, go to Honmura Port on the other side of the island near the town and Art Project buildings.

    From Shikoku, you can take a ferry from Takamatsu Port for a little more about 510 yen. These also go to Miyanoura Port. Traveling from Honshu to Shikoku via Naoshima is a great way to travel and the prices are very cheap.

    An option for those who are visiting other art islands are the ferries that depart from Inujima Island which also has art.

    Naoshima Ferry Inside Naoshima Ferry
    Related to:
    • Road Trip
    • Arts and Culture
    • Museum Visits

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