Naoshima island [直島]
Coast of Naoshima
Near a port in Naoshima
Naoshima is a small island in Seto Inland Sea (Seto Naikai).
It is located about 15 km north-northwest of Takamatsu city.
It is nearer Okayama Prefecture in the mainland rather than Kagawa Prefecture.
The island is long from northwest to southeast.
And the length is about 5 km and the width is about 2 km.
In 1916, the copper refining plant was constructed in the north part of the island.
The sulfurous acid gas from the plant damaded the trees on the island.
But, it brought wealth, then the poor island became rich.
Since the 1970s, refining business has been on a declining trend.
In the late 1980s, the mayor thought that he wanted to change this island to a cultural place.
At about the same time, Benesse Corporation, a company of learning materials in Okayama city, thought the same thing.
So Benesse purchased a southern part of the island, and constructed an art museum and a hotel.
That was not mere resort facilities.
Artists and architects were invited from home and abroad.
They saw the scenery of this island, and they created the works matching the scenery.
At a beach in Naoshima
A Shinto shrine in Naoshima
But at first, the conservative islanders were not interested in such contemporary art.
Benesse had been involved them in various events by gradation, and won their understanding at last.
Now, Naoshima island has become a unique resort island of art.
This resort has been introduced abroad more often rather than in Japan, so we can often find foreign tourists here.
A port in Naoshima
Entrance of Chichu Art Museum
There are two ports in this island.
Miyanoura Port (宮浦港) is on the west coast, and Honmura Port (本村港)is on the east coast.
The main towns in this island are around both ports.
Around the south coast of the island, there is Benesse Art Site Naoshima.
Benesse House is the main resort complex.
It has art museum, hotel, restaurant, cafe, and spa.
All of them are constructed after Ando Tadao's design.
Ando Tadao (1941-) is one of worldwide Japanese architects.
The buildings are also art works, and there are many other art works on the space in the site.
Chichu Art Museum (地中美術館, "Chichû Bijutsukan" in Japanese) to the west of Benesse House.
"Chichu" means "in the ground".
Literally, this museum is built in the ground.
This museum was opened in 2004.
The works by Claude Monet (1840-1926), Walter De Maria (1935-), and James Turrell (1943-) are exhibited.
We can see 4 works of "Water Lilies" by Monet.
Honmura district on the east side has an art project.
The name is "Ie-Project" and "Ie" means "house" in Japanese.
When an old house in Honmura district is preserved or restored, "installation art" is added on it.
Seven houses have already renovated.
Many volunteer guides of islanders introduce the works to the visitors.
Municipal route bus is operated in this island.
It connects above spots, Honmura and Miyanoura.
By the way, most buildings and works are prohibited photographyand video recording.
How to get here
From Takamatsu Port, about 50 minutes to Miyanoura Port.
From Uno port (Okayama Pref.), about 20 minutes to Miyanoura or Honmura Port.
From Okayama to Uno, get on JR rapid train on Seto-Oohashi Line.
About 14 minutes to Chayamachi.
Then transfer to the train to Uno. About 23 minutes.
(Some trains goes from Okayama to Uno directly.)