Naoshima is a tiny island in the Seto Island Sea that is a ferry ride away from Kagawa Prefecture. Nonetheless, plenty of locals and foreigners alike flock to it every year, eager to soak in the artistic ambiance evoked by the many art museums dotted all over the island. What’s more, visitor arrivals are expected to increase dramatically as the Setouchi Triennale modern art festival – a rare event held only once every three years – will be held from July to September and from October to November later this year! Travelers who are not really art lovers need not despair if their travel buddies drag them on a trip to this art haven, though. Apart from visiting the museums such as Chichu Museum and Art House Project, there is plenty of stuff to engage the non-art lover. So why not take note of these ten funky things to do in Naoshima and have the time of your life?
Salt is an integral ingredient in the Japanese diet, so it is not surprising that Japanese people have turned salt into an ice-cream flavor. Once you reach Miyanoura Port, don’t forget to buy the locally-made salt ice-cream called Sola Shio. Savoring it while enjoying the caress of the wind on your skin is sure to delight your taste buds and uplift your spirits!
Naoshima boasts pristine beaches and spectacular views of the horizon in which you can’t quite tell where the azure blue sky ends and the aquamarine sea starts. Perfect for both introverts who just want to sit down by the beach and be intoxicated by the calming sound of the waves and sporty travelers who wish to partake in a game of beach soccer or volleyball!
Not to be missed are the outdoor sculptures outside Benesse House Museum that also double as attractive set pieces of a children’s playground. These vibrant, psychedelic sculptures will make you shed your inhibitions and romp around with gleefulness. Don’t engross yourself in this playground so much so that you forget to take selfies for your Instagram!
It isn’t often that you can come across something that enables you to feel the soul of an island and the psyche of its inhabitants. Thankfully, at Naoshima, you can board a shuttle bus that will take you on a ride around the whole island. Alight at the stop outside a campsite called Tsutsuji-so. There, you can listen to a poignant recording of a famous Naoshima folk song, “Oyaji no Umi” (My Grandfather’s Sea). Immerse yourself in the evocative ancient spirit of Naoshima!
After you are done playing at the children’s playground, treat yourself to an awesome meal at the Benesse Museum café. Order signature dishes such as squid ink rice which will not only satisfy your tummy but also look so pretty that they resemble thought-provoking abstract works of art. As you tuck into the scrumptious food, remember to ponder over the meaning of these works of food art!
James Bond fans will relish in the opportunity to visit the 007 Red Tattoo museum. Apparently, Raymond Benson’s Bond novel “The Man with the Red Tattoo” is set in Naoshima, hence, the strategic decision made by Naoshima authorities to build this museum as a way to spread awareness of the island to the world. While away a lazy afternoon by browsing through the 007 novels and movies showcased chronologically.
Blessed with rejuvenating emerald hills and towering cliffs, Naoshima enables you to take a breather away from the hectic pace of bustling city life and leave all your worries behind. Grab a bicycle at a shop near the Miyanoura Ferry Terminal so that you can cycle leisurely and take in all the gorgeous sights of this nature haven!
Naoshima boasts some amazing feats of architecture because the design of its public institution buildings was conceived by Mr. Kazuhiro Ishii, a famous architect from Tokyo. Case in point: the Naoshima Town Hall as shown above. To top it all off, these buildings are open to the public, so you can visit the Naoshima Town Hall and other buildings like Tsutsuji-so to get up close and personal with the unique architecture for yourself!
Embark on a nostalgic trip to 1950’s America when you step into the Shioya Diner. Packed chock-full of interesting memorabilia and posters from this era, the Shioya Diner soothes your mood with slow, sexy vinyl music. And oh, their American-style cajun chicken and steaks don’t taste half bad either!
After a long hard day of sightseeing, what better way to replenish your energy than to soak in hot, refreshing waters? At Naoshima, the Naoshima Public Baths are located strategically near Shioya Diner and are decorated with lots of intricate and exquisite artifacts. So take a bath, admire the artwork and plan for your next day of adventure at Naoshima!
There you have it: ten funky activities for non-art lovers! So even if you are not a budding art connoisseur, why not just make it a point to visit the Setouchi Triennale modern art festival and go out of your comfort zone by viewing the artwork? In the event that these works do not appeal to you, you have these ten activities to fall back on so that you will still have a meaningful trip. But if you find yourself liking the art exhibits displayed at this festival, well, your trip to Naoshima will stand out as memorable as you have engaged yourself in a good mix of art and nonart-related activities!