Teshima: The Island of Arts [1/2]
This early fall, I had the chance to spend 11 days in Japan with my colleagues. It was my first time in Japan, so everything was very fascinating and interesting for me. One of the highlights of the trip was undoubtedly two days we spent in Naoshima and Teshima Islands which are also known as arts islands in Japan. I want to dedicate this post for the most amazing experience I had in Teshima.
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 Naoshima and Teshima 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.
Part 1 | Part 2
How to go to Teshima
Getting to the island was no easy feat, especially because we had to bring our suitcases everywhere. From Tokyo, we took Shinkansen (high speed train) with JR Pass to Okayama. Previously, we were advised to take a short transit at Shin-Kobe by a staff in JR exchange office, so we took two Shinkansens from Tokyo to Shin-Kobe and Shin-Kobe to Okayama. From Okayama, we had to change to a smaller train to Takamatsu. Then, we also took local train in Takamatsu to the hotel. Overall, the whole journey took about half a day to reach Takamatsu.
The following day, we took local train to reach Takamatsu Port. We had to queue to buy the high-speed boat tickets to Ieura Port in Teshima. Thankfully we arrived early because the waiting line was very long. It was a public holiday, so there were many people going to the island. You can also choose to go to the island by ferry with cheaper price. Nonetheless, we chose the high-speed boat so that we could have more fun time in Teshima.
Getting Around in Teshima
The tour itself was a day trip in Teshima and one more day in Naoshima before we went to Osaka. We used shuttle bus that runs along Teshima Islands for ¥200 for each person.
The following is our one day itinerary in Teshima Island.
- 07.41-08.16 Going to Ieura Port in Teshima by high speed boat
- 08.30-08.44 Taking a shuttle bus to Teshima Art Museum
- 09.00-10.28 Getting around Teshima Art Museum
- 10.28-10.30 Taking a shuttle bus to Karato Oka Shukaisho
- 10.30-11.30 Experiencing Storm House
- 11.30-12.02 Getting around Shima Kitchen
- 12.02-12.07 Taking a shuttle bus to Karato Port
- 12.07-13.10 Lunch at Sanuki Udon Hatoba
- 13.10-14.42 Getting around No One Wins and Les Archieves du Coeur
- 14.42-14.59 Taking a shuttle bus to Ieura Port
- 14.59-15.29 Walking to Teshima Yokoo House
- 15.29-16.10 Getting around Teshima Yokoo House
- 16.10-16.20 Walking back to Ieura Port
- 16.20-17.00 Getting around Ieura Port
- 17.00-17.30 Going back to Takamatsu Port by high speed boat
We happened to visit Teshima island during public holiday, so the island was more crowded than usual. Therefore, we had some schedule alteration. For instance, Teshima Art Museum was open at 9.00 am on that day, while it usually opens at 10.00 am. In addition, we got a half an hour early for high speed boat from Ieura Port and Takamatsu Port.
1. Teshima Art Museum
Teshima Art Museum was our first destination of the island because it was obviously the landmark of Teshima. We started the journey with a bus ride that dropped us on top of the hill overlooking the sea. Then, we took a short walk down the street and passed by terraced rice fields before reaching the museum. In my opinion, the scene was absolutely the best view spot in the island.
We fortunately came early because there was a long queue in front of the ticket office. The museum consists of three small structures; the ticket office, museum, and cafe-gift shop. We needed to take a short winding small path from the ticket office to reach the museum.
The open museum was distinctively made with white shells from concrete with two elliptical openings. As an architecture enthusiast, I really found the whole thin structure was very intriguing as it somehow blended with the contour of the surrounding landscape.
Before we entered the museum, there were some rules to follow inside;
- Leave the shoes outside
- Be silent
- Do not take any photograph inside
- Do not touch the water because it was part of the installation
So many rules and the staffs were very strict, but everything was worth it.
Getting inside, I was totally caught off guard with the totally vast empty white interior. It really felt like I entered into a whole new dimension. I could hear everything echoing and reverberating from the nature in the shell. It was an extraordinary experience to hear live symphony of nature inside the museum from the sound of dropping, the wind, the rustling leaves, birds chirping, as well as cicadas singing.
You could see people looking up at the sky or sitting down on the ground from the entrance. As I approached the center of museum, I could see a long thin ribbon dangled from the openings. Nonetheless, it somehow did not obstruct the beauty of the view behind as you can see the cloud moving and trees rustling. Besides, I found seeing the floating ribbon very relaxing, so I took my time to lay down to appreciate the beauty.
I had to find dry ground to either lying or sitting on because droplets of water were scattered across the floor. They made puddles and kept moving along the imperceptibly sloping surface. It was fascinating because the water kept moving with no sign of stopping. Therefore, I took my time to examine where they came from and I saw tiny pinholes which generated small amount of water from the floor periodically.
We could have spent the day just sitting in the installation. Unfortunately, we still had a schedule to follow. After we exited the museum, there was a small path that lead to mini version of the museum with cafe and gift shop inside.
Part 1 | Part 2