Naoshima! An art island in the sea

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October 27th 2019
Published: October 27th 2019
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The only thing worse than being sick is being sick and having to travel. At least it wasn't an airplane with a headcold. So getting to Naoshima sucked. It also kinda sucked being there because we weren't prepared for literally everything to be sold out or booked up. We arrived a little before noon and found ourselves completely locked out of our hostel with no place to leave luggage and they were totally nonresponsive. There were no bike rentals until the next day either. So we made reservations, but we were kinda stuck because we wanted to go check some stuff out, but the last checkin for our hostel was 7pm and the earliest 4pm and headed out we risked missing both. This is particularly because the public transportation is TERRIBLE on the island and between the islands. Even though it only takes 20 minutes to drive from the one end to the other end of the island, the bus only does it once an hour which is totally f-cked up. And similarly, the ferries run at ridiculous times such that it takes 2 hours to get to an island that should only be like 20 minutes away max if they even used a speed boat. Without a doubt, Susan felt that the transportation was so horrible she would not come to the islands again even though we ended up having a good time. Because you end up spending 4 hours in transit hell waiting around for you to get someplace for the 45 minutes you might spend seeing art. Really, if you plan to go to Naoshima plan out every moment and make reservations in advance - and especially do this if you want to see the triennial which we missed because it wasn't possible to get from Naoshima to another island and back in time given other things we had to be to like our hotel check in time or our Chichu museum reservation time. I would say this first day in Naoshima was a real low point in the entire trip. And also like everything was closed for lunch by the time we dealt with all this and decided to try and eat so it was 7-11 seaside. So have your hotel or your friend or some nice person you meet on the street call ahead for you and make your reservations!

We finally got shit figured out, and made our way to Benesse museum. It was the ONE thing FOLX if you ever have the money to splurge on staying here, do not hesitate. And by the money I mean like a 1,000 and up. I mean if I could do it again I MIGHT, but really what I am saying is figure out what their off season is and treat yo'self because the property and the museum and the views are all stunning and so was the museum. It was a small, but amazingly wonderful collection. And you can see even more of it if you are staying there as about 85% of the collection is for guests only. Benesse and Yayoi's pumpkins saved this day. So after the museum was a LONG walk down to the townie bus and a small miscommunication had us sitting on a bench in the cold dark of night with some weird drumming and chanting happening while we waited on a bus back to town. And got no dinner because everything was all booked up (MAKE RESERVATIONS PEOPLE - which on the bright side we were able to do for the next night because we ran into the host on the road as she was putting up the sold out sign) and we wound up at 7-11 before bunking down for the night in the worst bed ever. It was basically a bunk bed and you were sleeping on the frame of it with like a comforter being called a futon between you and the wood. And a sink. Right next to your head that people would use. At 6am in the morning. To brush their teeth for 10 mins.

Yeah. So our hostel was clean looking, but definitely we were allergic to it so it made the 9am bike pickup easy breezy. And also the bathroom was basically a tiled outhouse and I had to walk over to the bus station super early and super late because I'm regular like that. Anyhoo, we got our bikes and we were off! Slowly because we (by we, Toisha means herself) didn't know shit about gears and what they were used for and thought because we were on electric bikes we didn't have to deal with that jazz. Anyway, put your bike in third gear to go uphill. We started this day queing for tix to a James Turrell piece and then making our way through six sites that were part of our Setouchi Trieannale cheap ticket (which is just the art houses). Biking was amazing! And there were cars on the roads, but they were super aware of all the troves of hapless bikers. And it was a sunny day. Just awesome. Susan loved biking which is amazing because every other experience on bikes has been torture as you peddle hard and go nowhere, but on an electric bike you are still pedaling but flying down the street.

We had breakfast at a small little shop around the corner from our first art site. This is where I will take a moment to speak about typhoon 19. I had been watching this thing for days now and was stressfully anxious that it might turn west and head towards us. While at breakfast the news was reporting on it and it made the beautifully clear skies we were expereincing feel ominous because I knew they resulted from the winds of Hagibis even though it was far, far away. But Susan wasn't thinking about this at all. Instead, I enjoyed an incredible breakfast set in someone's home that was lovingly prepared and served in several different dishes. It was great.

Yes, so the Turrell piece here was one that I had seen before, but the execution and the building here was amazeballs. Like when they said touch the wall it was mindblowing. If you are familiar with his work you know the moment I mean, if not I'm not going to ruin it for you. We biked over to the next site and I kinda buzz through these quickly so I headed off to the beach. I'm not a huge beach fan, but again I was kinda looking out at the horizon for signs of no. 19. I spotted a sign a bit of a ways down shore and decided to go get a pic. Turns out it was kismet because it was warning you of the underwater cable that brought the internet to the island. I was fucking STOKED! I mean I legit found the freaking internet :D it bodes well for future work. Susan met back up with me and we headed off to finish off our sites, check out the gift shop and get some lunch. We had a particular place in mind and of course it was closed (even though it wasn't supposed to be) and we wound up at, yes, you guessed it 7-11. Now, we had learned our lesson the day before and had reserved our tickets for Chichu museum, unfortunately the Turrell show here on Friday-Sun was booked out well in advance, but no bother as we are going to the House of Light later on our trip, still would have been cool to see. SO this museum is ALSO amazing! The building itself is a fucking wonder desgined by Ando (who's name you will see all throughout the town). I was totally in awe of it. Gorgeous. Again, a very small collection, but it was immacualate. AND OMG this was hands down without a doubt the best ever, evar! presentation of Monet's waterlilies. Like the room was just this perfect space. So perfect. We had dinner reservations at Cafe Salon that night so it was quick bike return and then townie bus into town for a delicious meal that made us believers in omuraisu and plum wine. We also learned that places are full when the hosts are unable to serve people and has nothing to do with the seating as there were a lot of seats but still the place was sold out (which is a common thing we have found throughout our travels). It was the perfect endcap to our stay in Naoshima :D

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