A Information to Naoshima: A Summer time Island Retreat
Not a lot of a secret anymore, Naoshima, colloquially known as ‘Artwork Island,’ is a wonderful jumping-off level for exploring the broader, extra untouched fantastic thing about the Setouchi area, considered one of Japan’s most fascinating areas and a vacation spot that is each unspoiled and so prepared for tourism.
Here is a brilliant temporary historical past lesson: The island got here into its present incarnation round 1985 when Tetsuhiko Fukutake, the founding president of academic publishing home Fukutake Publishing, met Chikatsugu Miyake, the foremost of Naoshima. The pair had a grand imaginative and prescient to develop a cultural and academic space on this sleepy island.
By 1992 they recruited Tadao Ando, one of many nation’s biggest architects, to affix the trigger, and never lengthy after, Benesse Home Museum got here into being. From there, the island’s cultural standing has snowballed, with world-class artists like James Turrell and Yayoi Kusama making their mark on the panorama, and right now it is being touted as one of many nation’s must-visit places on par with iconic locations like Kyoto and Kanazawa.
Naoshima and its neighboring islands play host to the 2022 version of the Setouchi Triennale, so let’s check out how greatest to journey by means of the island this summer season.
Lay of the Land
Naoshima will be divided into three key areas: east, west and south coast. The northern a part of the island is a bit more industrial, residence to the Naoshima City Mount Seto Service Reservoir, a Mitsubishi outpost and Fujihara Development. So, in brief, there’s not a lot you will discover over there.
On the west coast is Miyanoura Port, the port you will attain first when you’re touring by way of Takamatsu and fairly probably Uno (Okayama Prefecture). It is a wonderful place to start out your Naoshima journey, as upon arrival, you are greeted by Kusama’s iconic, larger-than-life crimson pumpkin, a sprawling open garden and a well-stocked data middle to get you info-equipped earlier than embarking in your artwork journey. A few three-minute stroll from the information middle sits the charmingly scrappy and eclectic I Love Yu, a public bath-art piece crafted by artist Shinro Ohtake.
The adjoining port on the east coast is called Honmura Port, which providers boats touring from Uno. This facet of the island is residence to the Ando Museum and to a cluster of homes, some residential and a few that make up the Artwork Home Mission. One of many island’s extra understated however no much less essential artwork options, the Artwork Home Mission was established in 1998 and is a set of once-empty homes, now stuffed with artwork designed particularly for every house and is ideal for exploring on foot or bicycle. At present, the mission contains seven places: Kadoya, Minamidera, Kinza, Go’o Shrine, Ishibashi, Gokaisho and Haisha.
In the direction of the southern tip of the island sits the areas we are able to dub unofficially ‘Benesse land,’ aka Benesse Artwork Website. Right here you will discover Benesse Home, the luxe art-centric lodging, in addition to different neighboring blockbuster websites just like the Lee Ufan Museum (a museum devoted to the Korean minimalist painter and sculptor-artist), and the Tadao Ando-crafted Chichu Artwork Museum, housing an unlikely however harmonious trio of Walter De Maria, James Turrell and Claude Monet items.
The toughest half about getting round Naoshima is deciding which transport technique to take. A rental automobile is a no brainer when you’re on the island for a day journey and wish to clock as a lot as attainable. You possibly can decide up a Kusama-inspired polka-dot automobile from the rental store, which sits proper by Miyanoura Port. You possibly can lease by the hour or for the complete day.
Bike rental is a pleasing solution to go if the summer season solar is out and it is not too sizzling. It affords straightforward accessibility to virtually each nook of the island. Whereas there’s the occasional hill, it is nothing a bit of additional push – or possibly some battery-powered help – cannot clear up. Just like the automobiles, you will discover the rental retailers proper by Miyanoura Port. They’re arduous to overlook.
If you wish to let another person take cost of the transportation, there’s at all times the bus too. The Naoshima City bus travels between Miyanoura Port and Tsutsujiso, on the opposite facet of the island, making a quick cease at Honmura, delivering guests to the Artwork Home Mission and Ando Museum. It runs nearly each hour and prices simply 100 for adults and 50 for kids. The free Benesse shuttle bus operates between Tsutsujiso and Chichu Artwork Museum, stopping at Benesse Home Museum and Lee Ufan Museum. It comes round each half-hour and each 15 throughout the excessive vacationer season.
Eating and Ingesting
The most effective components of Naoshima, an island so full of up to date options, is that the island feels prefer it hasn’t sacrificed its authenticity and hasn’t uprooted its legacy as a fishing city in alternate for contemporary tourism. All of that is to say you will discover as many – possibly much more – charming native and comfy companies as you’ll slick new institutions. To do Naoshima correctly is to attempt them each.
To get an actual style of the island, have lunch at an area teishoku joint like Yuunagi, which serves up freshly caught fish in varied kinds. Seize a bowl of low-cost however satisfying udon from Udon Shiroobi. You’re in Kagawa Prefecture – the house of udon – in any case.
Early birds can get one of the best view of the island by taking a stroll alongside highway Route 256, which cuts by means of the middle of the island, connecting the east and west coasts. It is a perfect, possibly two-hour loop, which is nicely value it in case you have the time and inclination. Keep cool with a espresso from Akaito Espresso, a quaint little espresso joint that hand roasts its personal beans and opens on the spritely hour of 7am.
Because the day rolls on, and it is time to decide on a dinner vacation spot, contemplate Ebisukamo. This can be a cozy Japanese izakaya that feels as very like eating in a detailed good friend’s lounge because it does an official eating institution, however that is the appeal of all of it. The store has an English menu, a formidable number of native sake and a few of the greatest seafood dishes you will discover on the island.
For these seeking to kick on a bit of later within the night, do not get too excited for a brilliant late one, or be ready to convey the get together again to your house as a result of most spots shut fairly early; it’s nonetheless inaka (regional Japan) in any case. That mentioned, when you’re on the hunt for a 9pm nightcap, Little Plum is a vibey café and bar housed in a renovated marine container. Sit out on the deck with a cool, crispy Naoshima beer or one of many different nearly 100 cocktails and soak within the island ambiance. When you’re getting too boozy, relaxation straightforward within the consolation that the bar’s second flooring can also be a dormitory.
Triennale 2022 Summer time Version
Held each three years, the Setouchi Triennale is a celebration of artwork, tradition and the fantastic thing about the Setouchi area. It kicked off in 2012, and this yr marks the fifth version of the occasion. A bit of completely different from the common happenings on the island, the pageant takes over a cluster of islands within the Setouchi space – together with Shodoshima, Teshima, Oshima and Inujima – and hosts occasions and pop-up reveals throughout the festive interval.
The Triennale runs in three legs all year long, with spring executed and dusted; subsequent up is the summer season version which kicks off in early August and runs by means of to early September. The autumn version is later in September.
The place to remain
Earlier than visiting Naoshima, it’s straightforward to be beneath the impression that Benesse Home, the lodge that you would say began all of it, is the be-all and end-all of lodging on Naoshima, however in actuality, there’s a lot extra. When you do plan on visiting, it’s worthwhile reserving at the very least one, possibly two nights of lodging on the island to keep away from the back-and-forth timing of the ferries.
There are just a few choices to select from on the lodging entrance, relying on what you are after. Finances vacationers will do greatest with the hostels like Naoshima Backpackers, or when you’re in search of one thing extra old-school and native, contemplate a minshuku (Japanese visitor home keep).
Roka is a brand new lodge making waves in luxurious lodge circles. Impressed by the elegant hospitality of a ryokan, and the fashionable, smooth and considerate minimalism of a life-style lodge, it hosts a sushi restaurant, kaiseki eating and a tranquil, nearly hidden location.
All that mentioned, there’s a purpose why Benesse Home has the popularity it does. The power is positioned on the southern coast providing unparalleled views, wonderful eating services, well-designed rooms (of varied kinds) and wonderful entry to a few of the island’s greatest drawcard.
If you wish to look additional, Teshima is the most typical ‘subsequent island’ spot, with east ferry entry and the Teshima Artwork Museum drawing crowds, nevertheless, when you’re in search of one thing a bit of larger when it comes to dimension and panorama variety, try Shodoshima, the soy-sauce island or Takamatsu (on the Shikoku mainland) for udon and beautiful Japanese landscapes.
Lucy Dayman stayed at Roka + Benesse as a visitor for TARO Luxurious Journey Specialist & Media.