Bringing contemporary art and architecture in resonance with the pristine nature of the Seto Inland Sea

Naoshima is the most famous island in Japan for contemporary art in the form of museums, galleries and sculptures. Naoshima is located near Okayama in the Seto Inland Sea. The most famous museums are the Benesse House Museum and the ChiChu Art Museum. The mixture of art, nature and seclusion makes Naoshima an unforgettable travel destination. Those who are interested in architectural photography should definitely plan a visit. That was also the reason for my trip to Naoshima.

Getting there and stay

The island can be easily explored in one day. Two days are ideal for enjoying the tranquility and relaxation of the island. If you have more time, you can also plan a visit to the sister island of Teshima. My visit lasted one day. I arrived from Osaka. From Osaka I took the Shinkansen to Okayama. Then I got on the regional train to Uno. Ferries to Naoshima run regularly from Uno. I started at 8:30 a.m. in Osaka and was 12:30 p.m. on Naoshima Island. The trip was very straightforward thanks to the convenient train connections.

I was able to explore the island on foot very well. It is better to rent a bike or use the local bus if you don’t have that much time. Guests of the Benesse House have access to a free shuttle bus that goes to all of the museums on the island. The shuttle bus runs between the ferry landing, museums and the Benesse House. I explored the island on foot. I visited the Tadao Ando Museum, Chichu Art Museum, Lee Ufan Museum and stayed at the Benesse House Museum.

Benesse House encourages the dialogue between art and nature

I highly recommend staying at the Benesse House. Benesse House opened in 1992 as a facility integrating a museum with a hotel, based on the concept „Coexistence of nature, art and architecture.“ The facility consists of four buildings, all designed by Tadao Ando: Museum, Oval (opened in 1995), Park and Beach (both opened in 2006) in the island of Naoshima.

The Museum, which performs the complex’s principal function of displaying art, is an imposing structure open to the outside world, and visitors can sense the presence of nature even inside the building. Benesse House Museum is a 15-minute walk from Chichu with sea views, art installations, and cherry blossoms (in April) to enjoy along the way. The peaceful area was the most attractive part of the island I visited. Benesse House is a good starting point to explore the art sights on the island. The following photo essay documents the trip to Naoshima.

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