Naoshima: A Paradise For Architects [1/3]
Although it has been more than a month since I traveled to Japan, it feels like it was just yesterday. All the memories are still fresh in my head, especially the ones in Naohima and Teshima Islands, which are the highlight of the trip. This is my story in Naoshima.
So, the idea of traveling to Japan was conveyed by my boss with the sole purpose to visit Naoshima. Despite being still little known by foreigners, the island has become a gathering place for art and architecture lovers. As an architect, he definitely could not miss the chance this place, especially when the island are filled with Tadao Ando works. Just for information that Tadao Ando is one of the most renowned contemporary Japanese architects. He is a huge role model for architects and well known for how he manipulated the relationship between concrete, space and light.
Okay, that was the short story how I got stranded in this lovely island. I obviously had no idea about the island at first, but eventually got fallen in love hard with this place. Do not forget to read my another travel journal to the neighboring island of Naoshima, Teshima from my previous post.
About Naoshima and Teshima
Not many people know about Naoshima and Teshima. They are administratively part of Kagawa District, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan and located in the Seto Inland Sea. Both islands are definitely great destinations for architecture and contemporary art lovers.
It just happened that we visited there in late October. We were very lucky to visit the islands during the Setouchi Triennale because the event ended in early November. Setouchi Triennale is a contemporary art festival held every three years on several islands in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan and the coastal cities of Takamatsu and Tamano. During the festival, there are a lot of art installations by artists from Japan and overseas exhibited to a considerable number of museums and artworks already in existence.
How to go to Naoshima
As explained before in my previous post Teshima: The Island of Arts, we took Shinkansen (high speed train) from Tokyo to Okayama. From Okayama, we had to change to a smaller train to Takamatsu. It took about half a day to reach the city before we finally reached Takamatsu at night. We chose to stay in Takamatsu for the convenience of travelling because we had to go back and forth from the islands. More importantly, the city offered great access, many accommodations and good places for dining.
We went to Teshima on the next day and Naoshima on the following day. There was a very limited time in the islands. For that reason, we took high speed boats rather than ferry to go back and forth between the islands.
Getting Around in Naoshima
I had one day to travel in Naoshima before we went to Osaka at night. The following is our one day itinerary in Naoshima Island.
- 07.20-07.50 Going to Miyanoura Port in Naoshima by high speed baot
- 07.50-09.06 Getting around Naoshima Ferry Terminal, Red Pumpkin, and Naoshima Pavillion
- 09.06-09.20 Taking a shuttle bus to Tsutsuji-so
- 09.20-10.05 Getting around Yellow Pumpkin
- 10.05-10.12 Taking a shuttle bus to Chichu Art Museum
- 10.45-11.52 Exploring Chichu Art Museum
- 11.52-11.56 Taking a shuttle bus to Bennese House
- 11.56-13.20 Exploring Bennese House
- 13.20-13.32 Taking a shuttle bus to Nokyo-mae
- 13.32-14.30 Eating lunch at Aisunao
- 14.30-15.22 Getting around Tadao Ando Museum
- 15.22-15.28 Taking a shuttle bus back to Miyanoura Port
- 15.28-16.25 Getting around Miyanoura Port
- 16.25-16.55 Going back to Takamatsu with High Speed Boat
We took shuttle bus to travel around the island. The bus run rather infrequently for every 20-40 minutes in between. Therefore, everything had to be precisely on time or we would be late for the bus. If that happened for sure, we could have missed not only a great destination to visit, but also the last train to Osaka. In summary, it was an hectic day in Naoshima because we could not have any tardiness in our schedule.
1. Naoshima Ferry Terminal
Arriving in Naoshima, we were immediately greeted with a ferry terminal designed by SANAA, a multiple award-winning architectural firm based in Tokyo, Japan. The ferry terminal was a one-story minimalist architectural work with many thin white columns supporting one large flat roof. The office, cafe, gift shop, and waiting hall was positioned in glass covered room in different shapes and sizes, seemingly scattered underneath the roof. There were also mirrors here and there inside which reflected its surrounding.
The thin and light structures were very fascinating. More importantly, I could easily navigate everything easily because of its openness. I was in charge with leading the group that day. It was easy to know when the bus was coming or see where my group of friends were.
2. Red Pumpkin (Akakabocha)
There was a huge Red Pumpkin at the adjoining park in front of Naoshima Ferry Terminal. It was literally a red pumpkin with small black dots installation, an artwork by the famous Yayoi Kusama. She is a leading Japanese artist who is famous for her extensive use of polka dots and for her infinity installations. This sculpture was a must visit because it was one of the icons of the island.
It was fun to see an abrupt Red Pumpkin standing on the island. It brought the inner child inside me to explore the inside of the pumpkin through several holes made in its body.
3. Naoshima Pavillion
Not far from the Red Pumpkin, I could see a white-painted triangular transparent mesh-like steel structure that came with irregular shape. The installation cast a striking silhouette on the island’s coastline. Naoshima Pavillion was an installation by Sou Fujimoto architect and I obviously could not miss it.
We took some photos inside and outside the installation. Inside, the space had an irregular topography, allowing people to find a place where they felt comfortable and sat down.