Setouchi Triennale on Naoshima

A guide to Japan's island of art during the Setouchi

 By Connor Lappin   Oct 14, 2016

For those with even a fleeting interest in art, Naoshima is a must visit. The small island in the Seto Sea is jam packed with world class art installations that attract connoisseurs from the world over. Every three years the Setouchi Festival is held on twelve select islands in the Seto Sea commemorating all things art; however, Naoshima is the crowning jewel. Artists of the ilk of Claude Monet and Tadao Ando are on exhibition all to the backdrop of the stunning white sands of Naoshima.

Whilst it is possible to spend a week pottering through the various exhibits on display in Naoshima, many elect to cover the Island in a single day and visit only the best of what it has to offer.

The following is a guide on what you cannot afford to miss during the Setouchi Triennial in Naoshima.

Naoshima Bath I Love Yu

Located at the mouth of Miyanoura Port, your likely arrival destination (see below); I love Yu is a quirky art museum in which visitors can wash in the communal baths. Designed by Shinro Ohtake, the exterior is decorated with colorful mosaics and is a site that exists off the common tourist path. Admission costs ¥510.

Chichu Museum

Featuring five paintings from Claude Monet's Water Lillies series, Chichu is globally renowned for its collection of contemporary art. Built almost entirely underground to preserve the surrounding environment, Chichu uses the natural light streaming from cracks in the roof to illuminate the exhibits. Tickets cost is ¥2,000.

Yayoi Kusama "Yellow Pumpkin"

Naoshima's must identifiable site is a priority for all those happy snappers and photographers alike. Set at the end of a pier, the Yellow Pumpkin was created by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and admission is free. However your time is spent, the installation attracts hordes of tourists all wanting the same "picture with the pumpkin." It’s not a bad idea to sit in the shade and wait for tourist groups to pass as you will be waiting a while.

Art House Project

Scattered throughout the residential Honmura Port are the Art Project Houses, a collection of abandoned houses and workshops that have been transformed into art installations. In total, there are six sites, of which the Minamidera- which focuses on light perceptions and Haisha House are generally perceived as the two most popular exhibitions. A multi-ticket permitting entrance to all sites costs ¥1030 and a single ticket costs ¥410.

Getting There

It is relatively straightforward as trains run frequently from Okayama to Uno Port. Take the JR Uno Line from Okayama to Uno Port ¥580 (**Sometimes a transfer at Chayamachi Station is required**). From Uno Port, ferries run every hour to Miyanoura Port on the eastern side of the island for ¥290. Infrequent ferries (6 daily) run from Uno Port to Honmura Port on the west of the island for ¥290.

Getting Around

Pedal bikes are available to be rented for ¥500 per day and a local bus service also runs throughout the Island with a single trips costing ¥100. It is possible to cover the island on foot, however, it should be noted that there are steep climbs and the walk is strenuous in some areas.

Written by Connor Lappin
Japan Travel Member

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