Photo By: Todd Lappin
Region
Shikoku
Island
Shikoku
Largest City
Takamatsu
Population
1,022,843

Chichu Art Museum

An unforgettable experience on a unique island.

If you only visit one place on the island of Naoshima, make it the Chichu Art Museum. Almost entirely built underground (chichu means just that in Japanese), it is considered one of famed architect Tadao Ando’s main masterpieces.

Naoshima is the island located in the eastern part of the Seto Inland Sea and in the Shikoku region that has been a contemporary art haven for more than 20 years and has gained international fame in recent years. Often nicknamed “art island” it is one of the twelve islands that host the Setouchi Triennale, a contemporary art festival that has become (in less than 10 years) one of the major cultural events of Japan. 2019 will see its fourth iteration.

At the Chichu Art Museum, on your way from the ticket center to the actual museum, the visit starts with a small garden that is reminiscent of Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France. It is not a coincidence as the impressionist painter is one of the only three artists showcased in the museum. Five of his Water Lilies paintings can be admired in a room that was specially designed for them, in order to be able to experience them as the artist intended, in natural light.

Pond at Chichu Art Museum, naoshima

Photo by: Rick Elizaga Along the sidewalk from the visitor’s center to the main museum, there’s a lovely series of ponds inspired by Monet’s water lily paintings.

Light is one of the main motifs of the museum as the second artist to have permanent residency there is James Turrell whose three works (Afrum – Pale Blue, Open Field, & Open Sky) heavily revolve around light and perception.

The third artist is Walter de Maria. His sole installation, Time/Timeless/No Time, takes up the largest room of the museum and is impressive by many accounts.

The three artists are the only ones you will find in the Chichu Art Museum and their exhibits are permanent, with no special or temporary exhibits, the museum having been built around and for those specific artworks. Indeed, for many visitors, the main attraction remains the museum itself. This underground maze of concrete provides a very unique, almost unreal and quite memorable experience for everyone — even if you’re not a contemporary art or architecture enthusiast.

The area near the museum at Naoshima is absolutely picturesque.

Photo by: sergejf The area near the museum at Naoshima is absolutely picturesque.

Before leaving the Chichu Art Museum be sure to make a brief stop at the museum’s cafe, not particularly for its food or drinks, but for the wonderful view of the Seto Inland Sea that can be seen from its terrace.

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Things To Know

Tickets

Online reservations are necessary for most of the year. You can book your tickets here: https://www.e-tix.jp/chichu/en/

Website

For more information please consult the official site: http://benesse-artsite.jp/en/art/chichu.html

Hours

The Chichu Art Museum is open every day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Mondays (when a holiday falls on a Monday, the museum will be open on that day, but closed on the next regular day).

How To Get There

Address

3449―1, Naoshima, Kagawa District, Kagawa Prefecture 761-3110, Japan

By bus

From Miyanoura or Honmura, take the Naoshima Town Bus to Tsutsuji-so, change for the free Benesse Art Site Naoshima Shuttle Bus to the museum. A shuttle bus is sometimes available from Miyanoura port, but it’s usually reserved for the Benesse House Hotel guests.

By foot

By foot: If you have the time and are in good shape, it’s totally possible to get around the island by foot. The Chichu Art Museum is roughly 2 kilometers from Miyanoura Port, Honmura (where the Art House project is located), or Tsutsuji-so bus stop, with other museums and art installations between the latter and the Chichu Art Museum.

By bicycle: Quite a few bicycle rentals can be found in all three villages of Naoshima: Miyanoura, Honmura, and Tsumuura. On most days, they’re the best way to get around the island. There are a few slopes to go to the museum, but most rental bikes are electrical.

Where To Stay

UOGASHI 7070 Ocean View
  • 2193-2 Miyanoura Kagawa-Gun Naoshima-Cho, Kagawa 761-3110
  • 5.8/10
  • 0.6 km
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  • 〒761-3110 KagawaKagawa-Gun Naoshima-Cho
  • 8.9/10
  • 1.3 km
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Guesthouse MOEGI-SO
  • Naoshima-cho 2224 Kagawa-Gun Naoshima-Cho, Kagawa 761-3110
  • 8/10
  • 1.4 km
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Hoshikuzu
  • 1974-3 Kagawa-Gun Naoshima-Cho, Kagawa 761-3110
  • 8.8/10
  • 1.4 km
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