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  • Writer's pictureAnna Francesca

Japan's Art Islands

During our trip to Takamatsu, we were able to go to nearby Naoshima and Teshima. The art in these islands were installed mostly by Benesse Corporation, and it can be said that the master architect of the island is Tadao Ando. If you are an Ando fan, these islands should be in your bucket list.

You will need to ferry to these islands, and within the island itself, you have the option to take buses or ride a bicycle. I suggest the latter! It's a very fun and pleasant bike ride, giving you easy access to all the areas, at your own pace, without waiting for bus timing. However, unless you are a very athletic person, I suggest that you rent an electric bike, as there are many uphills and downhills on these islands.

There are also no convenience stores here, with very few, if no vending machines. So if you are easily hungry, it's best to prepare snacks if you are easily hungry and thirsty.

One of the biggest art festivals, the Setouchi Triennale, is held in these islands every three years, with the latest occurring this year (2019, I should have gone later this year)!


Naoshima is well know for the Chichu Art Museum, Benesse House Museum, among many other museum and art installation.

One of the famous art installations is the pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama, which has both red and yellow versions (the red one can be seen at the main access from the ferry), and the yellow version nearer to Benesse House museum.

Scattered around the islands are other art installations that are very interesting, some of which are not shown here, as it presents more meaning when you discover it yourself.

The Benesse House museum itself is a hotel, and you can choose to stay here as well. Photos are restricted in the museums, so there are a few photos here of the interiors.

Chichu Art Museum (source:

Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin

Inside Sou Fujimoto's external art installation

Location: I ♡ ゆ (I really loved this pun. ゆ is read as Yu and is placed as a sign of Onsen. Sadly we didn't have time to go to Onsen)


Teshima is actually the main reason why I wanted to go to Takamatsu and ferry to these islands, as I have always wanted to see Teshima Art Museum, and it certainly was not a disappointment. I couldn’t help gushing about it after visiting; I daresay this is the main highlight of our trip. I can only dream to be as creative as Ryuo Nishizawa.

Again, same as Naoshima, there are other museums and art that can be discovered here, and I thoroughly enjoyed cycling around, looking at the map on paper (though I did check google most of the time too because I have a bad sense of direction. Ha, women.)

There are also some very quaint and comfortable cafes in the area which I truly enjoyed.


Probably the smallest among the 3 art islands handled by Benesse, the main museum is a converted copper refinery ruins into the Inujima Seirensho (Seirensho meaning Refinery) Art Museum by adding a gallery into the ruins. It would have been very interesting to visit here too, but we didn't have the time.


We did not travel here due to lack of time, but our friends went here instead when we went to Naoshima. Perhaps for those less interested in museums, Shodoshima is a much bigger island with

Kankakei Gorge, a ravine at the center of Shodoshima island famous for its autumn colors during mid November.

The islands above are the ones that I have been familiar with during our trip, but below is a list of islands which showcases artworks from the Setouchi Trienalle as well (linked to the Setouchi Trienalle website for easy reference)

and of course, Takamatsu (goes to my related blog post)

Didn't know there were so much either! Are you planning to go to the Setouchi Trienalle art festival this year? Personally I think it's a really great idea to revitalize these islands by making visitors appreciate the value of art at the same time.

For those who have been to these islands, which one is your favorite?

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