A picturesque, unassuming island in the Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima has earned itself a global reputation for its contemporary art and architecture.
Often referred to as the ‘Art Island’, Naoshima is famed for its wonderful collection of modern art galleries, unique outdoor exhibits and sculptures. The island’s sites are close enough to be explored on foot, but you can also hire a bicycle at Miyanoura Port.
Top sights include Benesse House, the Chichu Art Museum and the Lee Ufan Museum, all of which were designed by celebrated Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The Chichu Art Museum can be found in the south of the island where it was constructed almost entirely underground so as not to disturb the surrounding scenery. Admire permanent installations by James Turrell and Walter De Maria, as well as several paintings from Claude Monet’s famous ‘Water Lilies’ series.
Benesse House, first opened in 1992, is unique in that it encompasses both an art gallery and hotel – complete with a commanding view over the Seto Inland Sea. It was designed as a space where nature, art and architecture can coexist, with large apertures that fill the building with natural light. Works by Claude Monet, Andy Warhol and Bruce Nauman fill the galleries, whilst numerous site-specific works can be found along the seashore as well as in the nearby forest.
The magnificent art, combined with the island’s sandy beaches, sunny climate and laid back atmosphere, makes Naoshima a charming addition to any Japan itinerary.