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Good design for a better life on this world-class art island.

  • 2019 Setouchi Triennale Fall Dates: Sat, Sept. 28 to Mon, Nov. 4
  • The Setouchi Triennale only happens every three years so don't miss your chance to see this expansive contemporary art festival!
One of the most progressive, dynamic, and celebrated hotbeds of contemporary art in the world is a small fishing island sleeping on the waves of Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. That might sound like a contradiction, but it encapsulates the spirit of Naoshima: an immersive art experience that fuses stubborn opposites like nature and culture, and old and new, into perfect harmony.

This magical art retreat is a testament to Japan’s devotion to good design, and the conviction that good design can create a better life.

Benesse Corporation sponsors most of the work on the island, and their museums are world-class institutions with works by an impressive roster of artists, including Claude Monet, Jackson Pollock, and Walter de Maria. The Benesse House functions as both hotel and art gallery, letting you fulfill your wildest dreams of having a sleepover with Andy Warhol.

Naoshima wall art

Photo by: Olivier Lejade ‘100 live and die’ by Bruce Nauman.

Chichu Art Museum

The nearby Chichu Art Museum is possibly the most outstanding structure in a place with no end to remarkable stuff. Built almost entirely underground, the museum relies on natural light for most of its limited but outstanding collection, subtly transforming the works into something new every time you look. Stroll down to the docks and you’ll come across Naoshima’s most famous sight: a polka-dotted pumpkin designed by mother of Japanese avant-garde art, Yayoi Kusama.

Naoshima street art

Stumble across pieces of art where you least expect.

Thoughtfully designed cafes and restaurants are tucked away in the peaceful, narrow streets of Honmura. This is also the location of the Art House Project, which sees cutting-edge art pieces incorporated into unused, traditional Japanese homes in neighborhoods still inhabited by local communities.

Art on the wall in Naoshima.Photo by: Eiji Saito

Near the main port of Miyanoura, I Love Yu is an exuberantly kitsch sento that’s a far cry from the simplicity and prudence of a traditional Japanese bathhouse. Bathing in these waters will have you turning your head every which way to take in the stained glass ceiling, vintage erotica, and realistic elephant statue.

Setouchi Triennale

Every three years the Setouchi Triennale, which is the mother of all art festivals in Japan, takes over Naoshima and eleven other islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The widespread art fest covers the archipelago in around 200 fantastical installations and artworks from Japan and beyond. Each year the festival is held has three seasonal installations in Spring, Summer, and Fall. The next one will be in Fall of 2019!

Installation during the Setouchi Triennale on Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture

Photo by: Kentaro Ohno “Light of Shodoshima” by Wang Wen Chih, from the 2013 Setouchi Triennale.

Naoshima is sometimes referred to as “Ando Island” after Takao Ando, the revered architect who designed most of the main buildings. Anyone with an interest in architecture must make a pilgrimage to see how his structures of concrete and steel play with light and other natural phenomena.

They are custom-made to house some of the most enthralling, mysterious encounters with art ever. Your perspective will be bent in so many ways that it may never recover.

Check out GaijinPot Blog for a guide to visiting the Setouchi Triennale!

How To Get There


Naoshima, Kagawa-gun, Kagawa Prefecture 761-3110, Japan

By boat

There are 2 main ports from which you can access Naoshima by boat: Uno near Okayama, or Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture.

From Okayama, take the train to Uno Station, which is a short walk from Uno Port. Ferries depart roughly once per hour for Miyanoura Port in Naoshima, and the journey takes 20 minutes and 290 yen. At the same cost and journey time, there are also 5 ferries a day to Honmura Port on the east side of the island.

From Takamatsu Port, close to Takamatsu Station, ferries also depart about once per hour for Miyanoura (25-50 minutes, 520 or 1220 yen for the high speed boat), and 3 times in the morning for Honmura (30 minutes, 1220 yen).

Where To Stay

Naoshima Ryokan Roka
  • 1234 Naoshimachoichien, Kagawa-gun Naoshima-cho, Kagawa, 761-3110 Japan
  • ¥103,400 - ¥103,400
  • 1.5/5 (6 reviews)
  • 0.4 km
Keirin Hotel 10 by Onko Chishin
  • 5-18-3 Chikko, Tamano-shi, Okayama, 706-0002 Japan
  • ¥13,315 - ¥54,340
  • 4.5/5 (360 reviews)
  • 5.3 km
Uno Hotel
  • 1-1-12 Chikko, Tamano-shi, Okayama, 706-0002 Japan
  • ¥8,000 - ¥228,000
  • 4.19/5 (94 reviews)
  • 5.4 km
Diamond Setouchi Marine Hotel
  • 2-12-1 Shibukawa, Tamano-shi, Okayama, 706-0028 Japan
  • ¥8,000 - ¥16,000
  • 4.02/5 (1,920 reviews)
  • 8.5 km

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