Japan Travel News

An Unforgettable Journey to Naoshima in Japan’s Inland Sea

Posted on January 3, 2011 within News

Imagine a ten-minute ferry ride from the Port of Uno on a beautiful day seeing blue waters and rocky islands jutting out from the serene Inland Sea. Our destination, Naoshima Island, a bastion of contemporary art, was tucked just far enough away to create a mystery of what one would find upon arrival. As the ferry approached Naoshima, I was struck by the natural beauty in front of me and the holistic incorporation of architectural design and sculpture unobtrusively set into the island’s landscape. What a truly remarkable blend of contemporary architecture and natural surroundings.

Riding several minutes to Benesse House, Tadao Ando’s architectural masterpiece, I arrived to find a stunning venue that combines the functions of a contemporary art museum and hotel. The views of the sea were breathtaking and the simplicity and large open spaces of Bennese House were perfect to enjoy this serene setting. As I set out to explore this wonderful place, I had the feeling of being left with the keys to a museum to venture around at my own pace. With colorful paintings, sculpture and photographic images abound, it’s an unforgettable journey—“where one can enjoy enriching encounters with artworks in the changing light over the course of a day”.

A journey to Naoshima is hardly complete without strolling the island, walking the beaches and visiting the Art House Project and Chichu Art Museum. At the Art House Project, artists capture one’s imagination by transforming a series of traditional Japanese homes and a shrine into works of contemporary art each reflecting the individual artist’s unique vision and talents. As the Art House Project is spread out through an active fishing village, wandering from site to site allows one to experience life in this redolent part of Japan that time, in a sense, has passed by. This juxtaposition of contemporary artistic creativity in such perfect harmony with the traditional culture surrounding it is simply fabulous to see.

My last stop, the exquisite Chichu Art Museum, was built to provide a site to “consider the relationship between nature and human beings”. Chichu houses the works of three artists: James Turrell, Claude Monet and Walter De Maria and is a place where one’s experience is stimulated both intellectually and emotionally with the rhythm of the Inland Sea. Approaching the museum, one finds “Chichu Garden” designed with plants cherished by Claude Monet and which holds a beautiful resemblance to Giverny, the garden he himself designed. A one or two night stay in Naoshima is a must for art lovers and those who seek a restful setting at the end of an exciting journey to Japan.

Scott Gilman