A heaven for contemporary art lovers but also for those looking for an immersive experience and magical atmosphere.
Wherever you depart from, it will take you a few train rides and a ferry to reach Naoshima, but travelling through Japan is easy and part of the experience.
Book two nights at Benesse House, the hotel and art site designed by famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando within beautiful nature. Rooms are available in different p[arts of the site. I stayed in one of the Park rooms which are more affordable and offer a great view over the park and the sea. Expect minimalist contemporary design and comfort.
Contemporary art pieces are spreaded all around the park, the forest and the seashore, the master piece being Yayoi Kuzama’s famous yellow pumpkin.
Breakfast is enjoyed in the main restaurant with peaceful views on the shore. For dinner, try both the main restaurant and the museum’s. Bennesse House is clearly not a foodie destination but the tasting menus of Japanese or Western food are more than decent.
Apart from the outdoor sculptures and installations, the site comprises of three museums.
Benesse House Museum displays art works across 3 floors. Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Hiroshi Sugimoto are amongst the permanent artists exhibited.
Chichu Art Museum, also designed by Tadao Ando, is built higher up on the site, but is mostly subterranean. Experiential installations by James Turrell and masterpieces by Claude Monet are the highlights of the artworks.
Lee Ufan Museum is a collaboration between Ufan and Ando and displays paintings and sculptures by the artist.
The whole site provides an architecture and contemporary art experience, wrapped in peaceful and somehow magical contemplative atmosphere.
Art House Project
For more art experiences, spend half a day downtown visiting the Art House Project, comprising of 7 locations / curated houses including some memorable installations by James Thurell.
The whole project takes you on a discovery of not only Japanese and International artists but also of the local neighborhood (Honmura district) and residents' daily life.
In the same area, you should also pay a visit to the Ando Museum where Naoshima history and Ando's work are explained through photographs and sketches. The building itself, as you would imagine, is a piece of architecture in itself.