Every May 1st-5th, 200,000 people show up like baby sea turtles on the shore of Irino Beach near the small town of Kuroshio in Kochi. Unlike the sea turtles, however, they come because this 4 km stretch of sandy beach, one of the best in Kochi, transforms into a unique kind of art gallery.
Pictures of artwork from all over the world are printed on over 1,000 white T-Shirts, and hanged from clothes lines where they all flap happily in the salty breeze. Irino Beach is about a two hour drive west of Kochi City, and is a natural museum in and of itself. Usually known for rock free surfing that is also great for beginners, this annual T-Shirt Art Exhibition gives even non-surfers an excuse to enjoy being out on this wonderful beach.
All original photographs, pictures of artwork, or other digital forms of artwork are submitted from all over the world. The event organizers then prepare the image for its seaside gallery debut by printing the image onto a white T-shirt. After the event, the shirts come off the clothes lines, returning to the creators with the added scent of the warm sun, the sea air, and the smiles of onlookers—yes, smiles smell wonderful. (A few lucky people get some cash prizes in addition.).
Recently, these T-Shirts have even gone beyond the shores of Kochi to be displayed for people in Mongolia and Hawaii as well. Accompanying the T-Shirt Exhibit along the path to the beach are numerous stands of local artists and craftsmen, fresh fruit, and other treats. As always, it will be much cheaper to plan ahead and take your own food and drinks, but try to support the locals a little as well. There is little to no shade on the beach for most of the day, so be sure to take hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. It is surprising how many viewers don't, but you should take the opportunity to have fun in the water as well.
It's a lot of fun to look at the T-shirts, cool off in the water for a bit, and then continue perusing down the endless rows of T-Shirts. There is even a nice camp ground there if you can find an open lot for the night. For the photographers out there, this is an event with a plethora of wonderful photo opportunities, so I really recommend you try to make it out for this. Remember to share your photos here when you get back, too! We'd love to see them.
On your way back to Kochi City, why not stop by Kuroshio Honjin Onsen for a relaxing bath?
Interested in submitting your own image for the gallery? It costs 4,000 yen to enter one image into the gallery, but this covers the cost of printing the T-shirt, and mailing it off to other locations as well as getting it back to you. For more information about entering and the types of prizes, please visit the website. You can come back and submit your art here.