Naoshima Art Island


Art Island: Naoshima is home to many sculptures and installations!

The Setouchi Trienalle 2019 (also known as the Setouchi International Art Festival) is in session! The Benesse Art Site islands of Naoshima, Teshima, and Inushima, along with other islands along Seto Inland Sea (Setonaikai) will be key venues for the contemporary art festival. Read on for my experience and some tips to guide your visit to these artistic islands! 

瀬戸内トリエナーレ2019(瀬戸内国際芸術祭)も開催中です! 直島、手島、犬島のベネッセアートサイトの島々は、瀬戸内海沿いの他の島々(瀬戸内海)と一緒に現代アートフェスティバルの開催地となります。 私の経験とこれらの島々への来訪していただくためのいくつかのヒントをご覧ください。

Benesse Art Site Islands


The “Red Pumpkin” sculpture can be found at Miyanoura Port overlooking the coastline of Naoshima.

As an art lover, visiting the Benesse Art Site islands had been on my wishlist for some time now. Was very excited to finally find a long weekend to stay on Naoshima at the Benesse House for a night! “Benesse Art Site Naoshima” is the collective name for all art-related activities conducted by Benesse Holdings, Inc. and Fukutake Foundation on the Inland Sea Islands of Naoshima, Teshima in Kagawa Prefecture, and Inujima island in Okayama Prefecture. It was an amazing experience to stay on the island surrounded by beautiful architecture and artworks by famous artists such as Tadao Ando, Monet, and Andy Warhol!

私はアートが好きですので、ずっと憧れていたのはベネッセアートサイト直島のベネッセハウスです。いつ見ても満室ですが、ある日、空室を発見しました!三連休に、のどかな島に現代アートが交差する「ベネッセアートサイト直島」に行ってきました!「ベネッセアートサイト直島」は、直島、豊島、犬島を舞台に、株式会社ベネッセホールディングスと公益財団法人 福武財団が展開しているアート活動の総称です。

最高に良い天気の中で安藤忠雄、Monet, Andy Warholなどアート&建築を満喫してきました。♪ 1泊することができましたので、その様子を紹介します。各島でのアート作品との出会い、日本の原風景ともいえる瀬戸内の風景や地域の人々との触れ合いができました。

Taking the ferry from Uno Port to Naoshima Island. The ride took about 20 minutes.

宇野港からフェリーで直島の宮浦港へ行きました。20分の船旅を楽しみました~ ^^ 

Photo taken from the terrace of our room at Benesse House.


Opened at Benesse Art Site Naoshima in 1992, Benesse House is both a museum and a hotel, incorporating guest rooms and space for the display of contemporary art.


This wall design is a signature of the architect Tadao Ando.


My personal highlights were the Benesse House Museum, Naoshima Art House Project, and Teshima Art Museum. Unfortunately, photos inside the museums were prohibited, but there were plenty of beautiful photo-taking spots around the island with outdoor art installations!

私から見ると、ベネッセハウス ミュージアム、直島の家プロジェクト、豊島美術館の見学はTop 3です!残念ながら、博物館内の写真は禁止されていましたが、アウトドアアートインスタレーションで島の周りには美しい写真撮影スポットがたくさんありました!

Many outdoor works are on display around the island such as Niki de Saint Phalle’s colorful sculptures.

島の周辺には多くの屋外作品が展示されています。こちらは、Niki de Saint Phalleのカラフルな彫刻です。

Niki de Saint Phalle La Conversation , 1991 and Niki de Saint Phalle Cat , 1991

Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin is showcased on the pier in front of the Benesse Hotel, and has become Naoshima’s symbol. 

Another outdoor installation is Shinro Ohtake Shipyard Works: Cut Bow. (1990)

もう一つの作品が大竹伸朗の「シップヤード・ワークス 切断された船首」です。 

Breakfast at the Benesse Museum Restaurant, Issen, where you will find large windows with a beautiful view of the Inland Sea and Andy Warhol’s Flowers (1967) in the background. 

直島2日目の朝は美術館の中にあるレストランに朝ごはんを食べに行きました。レストランではアートと建築と料理を楽しめる空間を提供しています。アンディ・ウォーホルの「フラワーズ」 (1967年)も見られます。

Basement Floor of the Benesse House Museum with a view of the Inland sea and artworks displayed along the wall.

美術館内の写真撮影は禁止ですが、屋外作品は撮影可能なので〜す。天気も良くて最高でした♪ 海がとても綺麗ですね!

Yayoi Kusama’s “Red Pumpkin” is hard to miss when you pull into Naoshima’s ferry port in Minayoura. 

By the way, Naoshima Island is divided into 3 areas:

  1. Miyanoura Port area
  2. Benesse House area
  3. Honmura area (Art House Project and various restaurants/cafes)

There are 7 sites for the Art House Project, 2 of which (Minamidera and Kinza) require advance reservations or have timed entry tickets.
Please be sure to check the website and book for Kinza beforehand! 😉

In front of Art House Project: Minamidera | 「南寺」の前に写真を撮りました~

ちなみに 、直島は大きく分けて3つのエリアからなっています:

  1. 宮浦港や赤かぼちゃのある「宮ノ浦エリア」、
  2. 地中美術館や南瓜のある「ベネッセハウス周辺」、
  3. 家プロジェクトなどがある「本村エリア」です。



Art House Project: Go’o Shrine designed by Sugimoto Hiroshi || 『護王神社』

The Chichu Art Museum was definitely also worth a visit!

Be sure to stop by Monet’s Garden (Chichu-no-en) and  do not miss out on the beautiful views outside the Chichu Cafe! 
(Tip: make a reservation on their website for smooth entry.)

The Chichu-no-en garden features over 200 kinds of flowers and fauna resembling those planted by Claude Monet at Giverny. Before admiring his artwork exhibited in the museum, enjoy the same scenery that Monet famously painted replete with the same species of water lillies, willows, irises, and other plants!

Sip on some coffee (or have a beer!) and appreciate the beauty of nature with whimsical landscape views at the Chichu Cafe. 

Last Thoughts

A trip to these islands is highly recommended for all art lovers! Staying at the Benesse Art House is nice as you get exclusive access to the museum and outdoor artworks in the evenings.  However, if I were to visit again I would spend more time on Teshima and Inushima instead of the main island Naoshima, as the smaller islands feature less commercial artworks, are quieter, and have more character.

The Art House Project and Chichu Art Museum on Naoshima are certainly worth a visit though – just remember to reserve timed entry tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons! 

The Setouchi Trienalle 2019 festival is held over three sessions:

Spring Session: April 26 to May 26
Summer Session: July 19 to August 25
Autumn Session: September 28 to November 4 

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About Rachel

Rachel Leng is COO and Co-Founder of SeiRogai, Inc., a Tokyo-based business consultancy & media production company. Previously, she was Leader of Business Development on the Investment Management team at a Japanese private equity fund, as well as Policy Analyst at a top think tank in Seoul, South Korea.

As an East Asia specialist and former Miss Singapore titleholder, Rachel is passionate about the potential of media to educate and raise awareness about history, culture, art, business, and societal issues to enhance mutual understanding.

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