Day 15: Naoshima splurge (of Art)

Trip Start Apr 08, 2010
Trip End May 06, 2010

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Flag of Japan  , Shikoku,
Friday, April 23, 2010

Naoshima is a tiny island, in the Seto Inland Sea, and is not (yet) as famous as the major touristic places in Japan. But it is definitely a must-go when one love art, architecture and Nature, and Naoshima is a tourist region selected as one of the 7 places in the world you must see in Traveler, a travel magazine in America.
It is renowned for its collection of contemporary art galleries and exhibits.

Naoshima is best known for the Benesse House complex, where we will be staying for one night.
There has been extensive domestic attention to the recently (2006) completed radical Chichu Art Museum.

How to go there?

From Hiroshima, the easiest was to take the Shinkansen to Okayama station, then take a local train to Uno station. In Uno, you take a ferry to Miyanoura, the largest of the three ports Naoshima has.

What to do?
* Benesse Art Museum is the original contemporary art museum and remains one of the best. A superb fusion of nature, art and architecture that displays the works of Andy Warhol, Richard Long, Bruce Nauman and others. The Museum building (now one of 4 buildings in the complex: Museum, Park, Oval, Beach) was designed by world famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando. Actually, his first idea was to make this island an architectural concept, and to build on it a new building every year.

Apart from the exposition inside the Museum building, you can enjoy the Benesse Art Complex itself, as the architectural design of each of them is impressive and beautiful. Note that the access to Oval is reserved to hotel guests, which is an other reason to stay at Benesse Hotel!
There are also numerous outdoor exhibits nearby, in the Nature. Among them the famous "Pumpkin", a work of art by Yayoi Kusama, but many others (see pictures)

* Chichu Art Museum was designed by the architect Tadao Ando and is a tour de force of architectural expression integrating art and architecture: a must see! The work of Claude Monet, Walter de Maria and James Turrell will never have more appropriate exhibition. The James Turrell work is certainly best appreciated with as few people around as possible, which was the case when we went there.

Few amazing things abourt Chichu Art Museum: - there are less than 10 works of art exposed in the whole musem, but all of them are stunning - for several of them, you must take of your shoes before entering the room, which makes it very "japanese", but also because the room where it is exposed is also part of the work of Art - James Turrell's work was new for us and is focused on light ; so you don't just "see" but "experience" the work of Art, sometimes by entering it... Awesome!
You should know that the museum offers a special night program on Friday and Saturday to view Turrell's 'Open Sky' work at sunset.

* Art House Project: we did it the next day, so see next post...

Where to stay?
There are several places where you can stay on the island (you can go to Naoshima for the day, but it is worthwhile tyo stay overnight), but we recommend you stay at Benesse House (if you have the money for one night at least). Several advantages: - Courtesy bus availbale at the ferry terminal - Every room has its own individual design and art work - The beauty of staying at the House itself is that one can wander the galleries late into the night after all the riff-raff have departed - There's also a monorail up to the rooms at the Oval, which also has a spectacular bar where one can watch the sun set - Dinner at the Museum itself or at the Terrace (Park's restaurant) is also an experience not to be missed as all the good tables face out onto the bay.

We stayed in the Park building, in a room facing the see, and had dinner and breakfast at the Terrace restaurant, close to the hotel building. On the way from the hotel to the restaurant, you go through a corridor reserved to htel guests where other works of art are exposed.

I am sure you understand this day has been quite different from the previous ones... A unique experience, in a place out of time, from where you do not want to leave.

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