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Japan’s Hipster Art Island– NAOSHIMA

Posted By on Sep 16, 2015

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General Information About Naoshima

If you ever visit western Japan, Naoshima is a must-see cultural art island filled with modern and contemporary art, situated in quaint Japanese history and tradition.

 

Naoshima Island

Naoshima Island

Located in the Setonai-Sea, which connects Honshu (mainland Japan) with Shikoku island, Naoshima is a port city historically known for fishing and salt production.

Naoshima Island

Naoshima Island

 

Naoshima Island Pier with 2 signs

Naoshima Island Pier with 2 signs

Naoshima is said to have derived its name from the honesty of the people. “Nao” stands for honesty, and “Shima” means island. Although “Naoshima” (Nao-island) makes it sound like there is only one island, to the contrary it is comprised of 27 distinct islands that float in the Setonai-Sea.

Garden with Orange trees

Garden with Orange trees

Once known for its heavy industry, today Naoshima is being reborn as an eco-friendly, artsy town that will lead Japan and the world in the 21st Century.

 

Naoshima Benesse Art Collection

Naoshima Benesse House Gift Shop

Naoshima Benesse House Gift Shop

Don’t miss the fantastic art that the Benesse Corporation has installed over several decades to beautify Naoshima. Throughout the island, you will encounter eye-catching sculpture and installation art by world renown artists, such as Kusama Yayoi.

Artwork at Naoshima Benesse House

Artwork at Naoshima Benesse House

Art situated next to the ocean, which is unusual, is bound to excite your visual and artistic senses. What better time can be spent than enjoying both the beautiful Setonai-Sea AND art? Talk about having the cake, and eating it, too!

Artwork at Benesse House in Naoshima

Artwork at Benesse House in Naoshima

A sculptural artwork by Yayoi Kusama, located right next to the white sand beach.

Artwork at Naoshima Benesse House

Artwork at Naoshima Benesse House

Art is not only located outdoors, but also indoors, just in case direct sunlight is tiring you out! The artwork inside is just as phenomenal. One such indoor art collection can be found at the Naoshima Benesse House Museum.

Is it said that because Benesse could not fit all of the art it was accumulating over the years, it gradually decided to take the art outdoors and make the entire island its art museum! (now THAT’s a lot of art!)

Naoshima Benesse House Museum

Naoshima Benesse House Museum

 

Aerwork, Naoshima Benesse House Museum

Aerwork, Naoshima Benesse House Museum

Although edgy and modern, the Benesse Art Museum is careful not to destroy the ambience and tradition that Naoshima originally retains.

All of its architecture and artwork is calculated to fit right in with Naoshima’s great nature and old architecture, as not to destroy what Naoshima already has to offer to its visitors.

The combination is a uniquely modern-yet-traditional experience, only attainable in a place such as Naoshima– rich in protecting tradition yet having an outward look to change and future.

Naoshima Benesse House Museum

Naoshima Benesse House Museum

An example of how modern architecture collaborates with rich nature.

Naoshima Benesse House Museum

Naoshima Benesse House Museum

Tired of viewing art after art? No problem! Just rest inside the museum and enjoy some cafe with some delicious sweets. Recharge, then continue on with your adventure!

Naoshima Benesse House Museum

Naoshima Benesse House Museum

 

Naoshima Architecture

Naoshima Go'o Shrine

Naoshima Go’o Shrine

Curious about the local religion or religious architecture?

The Go’o Shrine, which has been in existence since the Edo Period, has been renovated by contemporary architect Hiroshi Sugimoto. Basing the design on traditional Shinto architecture and combining it with his own artistic values, Sugimoto transformed the Go’o Shrine into a must-see modern religious architecture that will continue to coexist with the people of Naoshima.

Looking for spunky architecture instead?

The “Haisha,” which means “Dentist” in Japanese, was once a real dentist’s office. It has been transformed into an artwork/art home by artist Shinro Ootake. Some parts of the building is sculpture, and others are paintings and murals.

Naoshima Haisha

Naoshima Haisha

Kadoya is another architecture reformed and transformed into contemporary art by artist Tatsuo Miyajima. Once used as a home 200 years ago, today Kadoya offers beautiful installations within that is difficult to discern from just looking at the exterior.

As they say, “Never judge a book by its cover!” Kadoya is sure to blow away your expectations and imagination!

Naoshima Kadoya

Naoshima Kadoya

One of the most famous Japanese architects, Tadao Ando has also renovated an approximately 100-year-old wooden house into a contemporary art museum.

The Ando Museum offers fresh art that people today can appreciate, situated inside Naoshima history and a glimpse into the past of how people used to live in Japan.

Naoshima Ando Museum

Naoshima Ando Museum

Another architecture by Tadao Ando is “Minami Dera” which is home to an artwork titled “Backside of the Moon” by US artist James Turrell.

Terrell captured the atmosphere of the old Minami Shrine and uses symbols and techniques that emphasize how this once lively shrine coexisted with the people and served as a place of gathering and communication for the locals.

Naoshima Minamidera

Naoshima Minamidera

 

So, why should you visit NAOSHIMA?

The answer is simple– to enjoy art, tradition, and beautiful nature…

There are also other places that this blogpost did not cover that are must-sees, but we don’t want to overwhelm you with all that Naoshima has to offer.

Grab your ticket and suitcase, and head out to this island town– it is guaranteed to relax your mind as well as sparking new inspiration and leading to a new discovery of Japan!

 

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