Benesse House

Benesse House on Naoshima island, maartenF

Until recently, Naoshima was the island with the problem of smelter smoke damage. But in the early 1990s, the Benesse Corporation chose this location to exhibit their collection of contemporary arts with the help of a Japanese architect Ando Tadao. Now the remote island became the world’s famous island filled with museums and open-air installations, and many art lovers come to visit Naoshima island.

The Setouchi International Arts Festival (Triennale) takes place on several islands in the Seto Inland Sea including Teshima Island every three years. In 2019, more than 1 million people visited this small island during 107 days of the arts festival. The next festival is scheduled for 2022, but you may prefer to visit when the island is less crowded. Please note all the museums on Naoshima are closed on Mondays while museums on Teshima are closed on Tuesdays.

 

How to get there

transportation in Japan

A train station in Japan, Christian Chen

From Kyoto: Go to Okayama by Shinkansen (about one hour) and then change and take the JR train to Uno Station. It takes about 45 – 60 minutes. You may need to change the train at Chayamachi Station depending on which train you take. And then walk 5 minutes to the Uno Ferry Port. The ferry will take you to Naoshima in 20 minutes. JR train is ¥590 and the ferry is ¥300.  They are both covered by JR Pass.

From Takamatsu in Shikoku: The ferry from the Takamatsu Port will take you to the Miyanoura Port on Naoshima. It takes approximately 50 minutes and costs ¥520 one way and a ¥990 round trip. Please plan your trip carefully especially if you are visiting for a day as there are not many ferries and there are not many places to stay on Naoshima. 

 

How to get around on Naoshima

bike

Bicycle life in Japan, Chris Barbalis

The main spots to see on Naoshima are in three different locations. Renting Bikes at the port is most recommended. Naoshima has many ups and downs, so you may want to rent an electric bike. There are buses, but be aware of the timetable as the numbers of the buses are limited. There is only one cab on the whole island, so do not expect to catch it. If you are a keen walker, you can try to hike, but you may not be able to do many things within a day.

 

Things to see

 

  1. Giant Pumpkin with Polka-dots

Giant Pumpkin with Polka-dots

Giant Pumpkin with Polka-dots, Wendy Tanner

There are two giant pumpkins by Kusama Yayoi on Naoshima. She is the most famous Japanese artist alive (she is 91 this year). Outdoor giant pumpkin installations by the sea became more of the symbol of Naoshima. Three are two pumpkins; the Red Pumpkin and the Yellow Pumpkin are in separate locations. See if you can spot them.

 

  1. Chichu Art Museum

Chichu Art Museum

Chichu Art Museum, photopoésie

The most famous museum on the island. These concrete buildings under the ground were designed by Ando Tadao. This museum does not use any artificial lighting, but natural sunlight lit the space. There are only a few rooms with paintings by Monet and James Turrell. See how you feel in each room makes you feel. You must take off your shoes before entering the Monet room.  Also, expect long queues that will take you hours to wait. The fee is ¥2,100 to enter. 


Address: 3449-1, Naoshima, Kagawa Bezirk, Kagawa 761-3110, Japan (map)

Website: benesse-artsite.jp

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM–5PM; Monday closed

Phone: +81878923755

 

  1. Lee Ufan Museum

Lee Ufan Museum

Lee Ufan Museumk, yumikubo

10 minutes’ walk from the Chichu Museum takes you to another collaboration between architect Ando Tadao and Korean artist and philosopher Lee Ufan. Minimalism is the theme here.  Unlike other busy museums on the island, you can contemplate in this quiet space. The fee to enter is ¥1,050.


Address: Japan, 〒761-3110 Kagawa, Kagawa BezirkNaoshima, 字倉浦1390 (map)

Website: benesse-artsite.jp

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM–5PM; Monday closed

Phone: +81878923754

 

  1. Benesse House Museum

Benesse House Museum

Benesse House Museum, Henk Binnendijk

This museum has many paintings owned by Benesse Corporation. This museum as well as its hotel is another work by Ando Tadao. There are pieces of such artists like Andy Warhol and David Hockney. The outdoor installations and sculptures which children can also enjoy. Open throughout the year.

*Naoshima is not cheap. It does not provide you with many accommodations though you may want to spend a night if you want to see. Benesse House is a gorgeous hotel, but expensive. It has rooms in different price ranges, but very popular and needs bookings well in advance.


Address: Japan, 〒761-3110 Kagawa, Kagawa BezirkNaoshima, 琴弾地 (map)

Website: benesse-artsite.jp

Hours: Monday – Sunday 10AM–6PM

Phone: +81878923223

 

  1. The Art House Project

Art House Project

Art House Project, Andreas Ludwig

The old houses in Honmura fishing village were transformed into installation pieces. The whole concept of arts on the island is to be with nature and people who lived and live there. There are 7 houses to express this idea; Kadoya, Minamidera, Kinza, Go’o Shrine, Ishibashi, Gokaisho, and Haisha. It will take about 3 hours to see everything. Multi-Site Ticket excluding Kinza can be purchased for ¥1,050 at the Honmaru Lounge and Archive.     


Address: 769 Miyanoura, Naoshima, Kagawa Bezirk, Kagawa 761-3110, Japan (map)

Website: benesse-artsite.jp

Hours: Thursday – Sunday 10AM–1PM, 2–4:30PM; Monday-Wednesday closed

 

  1. Minamidera House

Minamidera

Minamidera, Shuche Huang

Minamidera literally means South Temple. This is a new building by Ando Tadao in a location where the island’s Buddhist temples and shrines were located. Here you enter into total darkness and you will be met by works of James Turrel.  

*They limit the number of people to go into the gallery every 15 minutes. You will be given a waiting number at a specific time.  


Address: 733 Honmura, Naoshima, Kagawa Bezirk, Kagawa 761-3110, Japan (map)

Website: benesse-artsite.jp

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM–1PM, 2–4:30PM; Monday closed

 

  1. Go’o Shrine

Go'o Shrine

Go’o Shrine, Sophia An

The famed Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto redesigned this old shrine. He created his ideal shrine here. The main worship hall is based on the ancient shrine architecture, linked with glass stairs and the underground stone chamber.


Address: 820 Miyanoura, Naoshima, Kagawa Bezirk, Kagawa 761-3110, Japan (map)

Website: benesse-artsite.jp

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10AM–1PM, 2–4:30PM; Monday closed

 

  1. Naoshima Public Bath House – I Yu

Naoshima Public Bath I Love Yu

Naoshima Public Bath I Love Yu, yamane kurashi

If you have some time before your ferry back to Takamatsu or to the main island, this public bath is a great place for you to soak into the hot bath to relax. Mind you this whole bathhouse is a piece of artwork, and you will be surprised to see what is on the bottom of the bath, check the toilet as well. The entrance fee is ¥660.  


Address: 2252-2, Naoshima, Kagawa Bezirk, Kagawa 761-3110, Japan (map)

Website: benesse-artsite.jp

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 1–9PM; Monday closed

Phone: +81878922626

 

  1. Teshima

Teshima

Teshima, Emilinha Eumir

Teshima hit the news of toxic waste being illegally abandoned in the 1990s, but just like Naoshima, it was now turned into the land of artwork. 

There are three things to see at Teshima: Teshima Art Museum, Les Archives du Coeur (Heartbeat Archive), and the Teshima Yoko’o Museum.

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