Naoshima, an island of art in the calm Inland Sea, Kagawa

Naoshima, an island of art in the calm Inland Sea 🏝️✨
staff icon Written by Yuko

Where in Japan would you like to go next? There are so many different areas of Japan to see that it’s difficult to pick just one. Today’s article is set in western Japan. The inland sea between Honshu and Shikoku, known as the Seto Inland Sea, is famous for its mild climate and has more than 700 islands of all sizes. Let us take you to one of those islands – Naoshima, a unique island in the calm sea.

An island for art lovers

Naoshima is a small island in the eastern part of the sea, with a population of about 3,000. The island has no airport or bridges and can only be reached by ferry, yet it attracts many tourists every year. While its natural beauty makes it a relaxing place to visit, the island has also become an unlikely destination for art lovers with impressive artworks and museums dotted across the island. It is even known as “the mecca of modern art”!

How did it become an art island?

The island became an art island in an attempt to revitalise a depopulated island. Old buildings, such as a dentists’ office, a public bath and a temple, were turned into artworks with the help of artists and local people. The transformation to infuse new ideas has made it possible for the island to grow and sustain itself. “Minamidera”, designed by the renowned architect Tadao Ando on the ruins of a temple, is especially a must-see. It exhibits James Turrell’s work, where visitors can appreciate his artwork in complete darkness!

Other must-sees of Naoshima

You should also visit Chichu Art Museum, also designed by Ando. “Chichu” means “in the ground”, and the museum is built underground to not affect the landscape. Still, light is let in through ceilings to appreciate art in natural light. The Monet exhibition is particularly recommended. Monet’s works, such as Waterlilies, can be viewed in different natural lights depending on the time and season.

There are outdoor sculptures on the island as well. The most famous ones are Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkin sculptures. The pumpkins complement the blue sea and sky and create surreal yet one-of-a-kind sights. It may be interesting to think, “why pumpkin?” when you visit!

Of course, you can visit the island on our Chugoku & Shikoku Explorer tour. The combination of inspiring artwork and the beauty of Naoshima island creates an experience unlike anything else in Japan!

Explore the art, culture and nature of Chugoku & Shikoku in western Japan.

Chugoku & Shikoku Explorer VIEW TOUR

About Kintetsu

In Australia

Kintetsu International Express (Oceania) is an ATAS accredited travel agent in Australia, a member of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents. In Australia, we specialise in arranging Corporate and Group Travel for businesses, schools, religious groups and cultural organisations. We have Travel Centres in Sydney and Melbourne serving our Australian customers and offices in Cairns, Gold Coast and Auckland handling Japanese inbound tours. We are also an authorised travel agent to sell Japan Rail Pass and Kintetsu Rail Pass in Australia

In Japan and Worldwide

Kintetsu International belongs to the travel arm of the Kintetsu Group, a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate which operates a major Japanese rail system, bus & freight forwarding companies, department stores, restaurants & hotel chains. We have more than 150 offices in Japan and more than 40 overseas offices worldwide. Utilising our global network, we guide our customers to every location around the globe with quality and dependable services.