Rural Japan Explorer
An off-the-beaten-path adventure through Japanese countryside, ideal for those seeking an authentic experience in the heart of rural Japan.
Naoshima was merely another island home for fishermen in the middle of the Seto Inland Sea before it was transformed into a floating home for art, installation and sculpture. Today, it’s an art-lover’s paradise and thought-provoking art project; a must-visit destination for creative souls.
Navigate the island’s myriad of indoor and outdoor installations, world-class art galleries and whimsical architecture; either on foot or, as we would recommend, via a private cycling tour. Don’t miss the famous yellow pumpkin, dotted in black, by Yayoi Kusama, which has become a symbol of the island itself.
Be sure to pay a visit to Benesse House and the Chichu Art Museum. Both buildings were designed by world-renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando and display iconic artworks by Walter de Maria, Richard Long, Claude Monet, James Turrell and Andy Warhol, among others.
Other activities on Naoshima include a paddle on the sandy beaches and a soak in the kitschy onsen baths of I Love Yuu bathhouse (which is also an artwork in itself), located at the ferry port of Miyanoura.
Naoshima Island is perfect for a day trip, either from Shikoku Island or from Honshu, depending on your itinerary. However, an overnight stay on the island is a real treat, as you can even stay in the Benesse House art gallery itself, in a hotel that is part of the property, to truly immerse yourself in the art.
An international phenomenon and a weird-but-wonderful concept, the innovative and inspired artworks on display across the island, as well as Naoshima itself, are sure to stick in your mind and become a highlight of your trip to Japan.
When planning your trip to Naoshima Island, be sure to double-check the Benesse Art Site Calendar before you set off, to check for closures or events. Keep in mind that many exhibitions and venues are closed on Mondays (if you hop over to Teshima or Inujima islands, their art venues usually close on Tuesdays).
The Setouchi Triennale (Setouchi International Art Festival) was first held in 2010 and takes place every three years across many different islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The next festival will take place in 2019, with events happening throughout the year.
A day trip to Naoshima Island from Shikoku’s Takamatsu features on our Rural Japan Tour, while an overnight stay is a real highlight of our Food & Art: Cultural Tour of Japan. You’ll stay at Benesse House, which is one of the island’s best art galleries, and enjoy a private tour of the island’s most iconic artworks with a local guide.
An overnight stay on Naoshima Island is a great way to make sure you get to see all the art pieces on display and truly immerse yourself in the creative art project of the island itself. Wayfairer works with Benesse House, one of the art museums on the island, which aims to combine nature, architecture and art for a truly unique hotel experience.
Forget the big cities - head out to the countryside to explore what rural Japan has to offer and see a different side to this fascinating country.
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