Things I Have Learned In Naoshima, Japan
“You cant really say what is beautiful about a place but the image will remain vividly with you .” Tadao Ando
The small fishing island of Naoshima is an unlikely destination for globe-trotting art collectors and my most favorite place in Japan. Tadao Ando’s vision coupled with investments from a large benefactor join art, architecture, nature and life together in an amazing place.
An eccentric billionaire from Okayama and the company Bennesse that he runs, have been slowly transforming the island into open-air museums of contemporary art.
It is located 500 miles south of the Fukushima plant so no worries there. ( I did hear from a physicist who worked on it that it was a self-contained explosion and the radiation did not escape into the universe –but I’m a worrier)
Tadao Ando’s Chuchu Art Museum is entirely underground but doesn’t feel that way with light and skylights at carefully constructed angles. It houses the works of Claude Monet, James Turrell and Walter de Maria.
You are not allowed to take pictures in any of the museums. It is about being in the present moment and experiencing the art.
If you are not an art fan (though why would you come here if you aren’t? – it takes three hours from Osaka – Shinkansan (bullet train) plus two more trains and a ferry) you will like the James Bond “Man With The Red Tatoo”Museum.
One of the really interesting things about Naoshima is discovering art in surprise places.
Wandering around on foot will have you discovering outdoor sculptures and art exhibits sometimes cleverly disguised as children’s playgrounds and colorful gardens.
The pumpkins have become the image of the island. There is an Orange and a yellow one on opposite sides of the island. They were made by Yayoi Kusama an artist known for colorful, psychedelic patterns.
People are always taking pictures with them.
The vision behind the Benesse Art Site at Naoshima was ‘to create a physically and mentally rejuvenating haven”.
Benesse House is a unique facility that combines the functions of both museum and hotel.
Four hotel facilities—Museum, Oval, Park and Beach are available. All were designed by Tadao Ando.
James Turrell presents light in itself as art. The museum has three of his works. Open Sky can be viewed at anytime, but a special sunset viewing is also available.
He makes large rooms and space where light itself becomes the object. You actually step inside his art. It cannot be described, it has to be experienced.
Minamidera is a new structure that pays homage to a temple formerly at this site, which was a spiritual gathering place for the community. It was designed by Tadao Ando for the size of artwork by James Turrell inside.
The Art House Project is really cool. There are eight houses that have been turned into art installations. This interesting concept successfully fuses the history and culture of the island with contemporary art.
It is a bit like a scavenger hunt trying to find them on the island. If you get lost, follow the cool arty looking people, not the fishermen.
Naoshima is an island that fuses ancient traditions with modern creativity. This blend of styles is due to Tado Ando’s and his insistence on using traditional materials in ultra modern ways. Art, Nature and Japanese food – my three favorite things.
Thanks Anna. We had such a great day!
Yo I sorano tabi o