2008/04/20

Naoshima (Art Island) 2

I took a ferry from Sunport Takamatsu to Naoshima (Art Island) today. It is far and above one of the best experiences I have had in Japan so far. The island is awash with museums, galleries, architecture, and culture. Let me share some of my photographs, videos, and experiences with you. I arrived at the ferry from Takamatsu at 9:45 in the morning, and the boat is pictured on the left. The ride was a pleasure. It takes about one hour and you can sit on the upper deck and watch as the boat passes many beautiful islands on the way to Naoshima.

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On arrival, I took this bus (left) to Chichu Art Museum. But before boarding the bus, don't forget to go into the station and pick up the bus schedule as well as maps of the island and an English guide if you need one. The bus costs only 100 yen ($1) for each ride. It is possible to walk or bicycle to the various desinations, but the bus is simply more convenient. You'll want to maximize your time looking at the art! Inside Chichu Art Museum you'll find dreamlike rooms by Walter de Maria (Time / Timeless / No Time); fantastical spaces by James Turrell (particularly Open Field). Open Field starts as a blue square on the wall, rather uncompelling. Until you realize that you can walk up a set of stairs, and it is not a blue square, but rather an entrance that you can walk into (!) only to discover that you have entered a minimalist painting. I'm not kidding. It is one of the most psychedelic works of art I have ever experienced. Once inside the painting, turn around for a surprise about the entrace in to which you walked. There are also four works by Claude Monet. The building is a masterwork by Tadao Ando, itself pure art. Photographs are strictly forbidden, hence no images. But you really need to experience these works with your own eyes and body in order to appreciate them anyway.

Among myriad smaller galleries, this one features ink paintings. They use classical techniques to express modern images of sakura blossoms and coastal scenes. There is also the Art House Project, comprising six buildings. It costs 1,000 yen ($10) for access to all six buildings. One in particular, again by Tadao Ando, starts with pitch darkness so disorienting that it is nearly intoxicating. But as you sit in the dark for about five minutes, your eyes adjust and you can see lights in the distance. You then stand and walk toward the light, putting you hand into it, with surprising effects.

Fish flags wave outside of a traditional-style building. In addition to all of this architecture, Naoshima also features beautiful beaches with pristine, clear water. Birds call from overhead and the wind gently blows as you immerse yourself in nature and art. As you continue to walk the island, your mind reels with what you have already seen, and with the anticipation of what is to come. It is a place for discovery, for intrigue, and for life experience. No matter what your views on art, it's worth the trip.


See if you can spot these cute metallic signs.

The new meets the old as a digital mosaic flashes inside a traditional building.

Stone etchings near a shrine with a sacred staircase made of ice that will not melt under the blazing sun and descends into infinity for your viewing pleasure.

Light streaming into a narrow stone passage.


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Wind moves metal at the beaches of Naoshima.