By Bonson Lam
Are you short on time, but staying near Uno Port or Okayama, and you want to visit one of the art islands? Are you unsure of the next time you'll be in Japan, and want to visit either Naoshima, or Teshima, or Shodoshima, etc., I can assure you that if you'd be willing to choose one island out of the many choices, you will be able to complete a brief tour of the island in about half a day!
During my week long vacation in Japan, I had the chance to visit Naoshima for about half a day. I had to take one of the first trains from Okayama Station to Uno Port at about 5:00AM, since the ferry schedule from Uno Port to Naoshima is limited to about one ferry an hour. I had previously booked my ticket to Chichu Art Museum on Naoshima Island online for the time slot of 9:00 AM, so I had to make sure that I would not miss the time.
Since right now the Setouchi Triennale is currently taking place, the earliest time to enter museums on Naoshima Island has been changed to 9:00AM instead of 10:00AM for the major museums like the Chichu Art Museum, so I decided to book the first slot to avoid possible crowds. However, I would actually recommend against this, unless you are up for a bit of a hike to the museum from the port. This is because the bus from Uno Port runs to the Tsutsuji-so bus stop from an early hour in the morning, but the shuttle from Tsutsuji-so to the other art museums does not begin running until 9:30AM. Thus, I took the bus to Tsutsuji-so station, and had to hike up to the Chichu Art Museum - the hike took about thirty-five minutes. On the bright side, I was able to stop by the famous "Yellow Pumpkin" sculpture by Yayoi Kusama before trudging up the daunting slopes that stood before me.
I only wanted to visit the Chichu Art Museum, but I definitely could have fit in another museum like the Benesse House Museum, if I had wanted to. I had the time, and ended up spending it at the port by the "Red Pumpkin" sculpture, while waiting for my return ferry. So, it is entirely possible to visit Naoshima or another one of the art islands as a side trip or day trip!
If you are planning to do one of these art islands in less than a full day, I recommend choosing one or two major museums you will definitely visit, and then researching one or two more smaller museums that you will not be heartbroken about if you are unable to visit them afterwards. Limiting your choices will help you plan out your day, and provide you with a workable, doable schedule.
So, first of all, I would recommend buying your tickets online. You may be charged a small service charge, but it is worth it, as you will avoid the crowds. I would also recommend taking a close look at the train, ferry, and bus schedules to ensure that you will make it to your admission time slot on time. Doing careful research will save you from wasting time waiting for transportation, or sweating profusely in line in the sun, and will definitely only serve to help you!
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