Its pleasant climate also makes Naoshima a great spot for its sand beaches. At the last population count in 2013, the area’s number of inhabitants (made up of several islands) were a little more than three thousands. While getting closer to the land, the ferry ride has the advantages of offering incredible views and landscapes thanks to the multiple islands of the Inland Sea. To enjoy it at the maximum, do not hesitate to go up to the ferry's superior deck.
Starting in the eighties, Soichiro Fukutake, president of the Benesse society, decided to transform Naoshima into an art capital. Helped by the famous architect Tadao Ando, several museums and all buildings of the vast "Benesse Art Site" were created. The city buildings and schools were designed by the architect Kazuhiro Ishii.
This Benesse house (from the eponymous big company based in Okayama) happens to be one of the unmissable places of the island, and this for several reasons:
- its architecture is a real show for the eyes, with its huge volumes and concrete walls;
- the works of art it houses are very interesting and diverse (photos being forbidden, you have to go there by yourself to discover them);
- the surroundings of the main building have numerous sculptures, whether in its park or close to the beach (such as Yayoi Kusama's famous yellow pumpkin, the unofficial symbol of Naoshima);
- its surprising offer includes the famous museum with about forty hotel rooms;
- it is the only museum opened on Monday.
However on this day, since on the Benesse house is the only museum opened, the flow of tourists decreases by 90% down! It is therefore the occasion to discover the island from another point of view, enjoying its gorgeous beaches and its rural side to gain a great chance to escape from Japanese big cities.
The rest of the week, numerous tourists come to walk around the small roads, tracking the works of Art. Pay attention to the entrance fees, quite high in the museums, the only free one being the museum dedicated to 007 (as a reminder of the novel The Man with the Red Tattoo, published in 2002 and where the story takes place).
The game field remains at human scale, but to easily cover the eight square kilometers, we recommend to rent a bike to enjoy the several artistic collections distributed around Naoshima.
How to get to Naoshima
- from Uno (Honshu/ in JR from Okayama) Miyanoura or Honmura ports
- from Takamatsu (Shikoku, Miyanoura port)
Location unreachable with the JR Pass
Get there with a rental car
Find a flight to Tokyo
Ferry: ¥290 (~US$ 2.60) one way
- Benesse House: ¥1,030 (~US$ 9.30)
- Lee Ufan Museum: ¥1,030 (~US$ 9.30)
- Ando Museum: ¥510 (~US$ 4.60)
- Chichu Museum: ¥2,060 (~US$ 18.50)
- 007 Museum: free
- free access for the outside works of art
Rental bikes at Miyanoura:
- ¥500 (~US$ 4.50) the day
- ¥2,000 (~US$ 18.00) with electrical motor
few free buses shuttles on the island
Get your Japanese Yens free of charge
The island is always open but its inside attractions are on average open from 10am to 5pm (from 8am to 9pm for the Benesse), with irregular closing days
How long / when to visit
About one day on site
Avoiding winter and rainy days because lot of time spent outside