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Where the boundaries between worlds start to blur.

Somewhere near the edge of the world floats Teshima, a remote and sparsely-populated island sheltering mystifying works of contemporary art. Most of the island still functions as a typical fishing village, and it offers a wealth of magnificent rural sights: terraced rice fields, misty forests, stark shorelines, and tiled cool grey roofs. But keep traveling and something will stop you in your tracks—the sight of a bold abstract design plastered on a traditional Japanese house, or a large concrete structure rising gently out of the ground like any other hill.

Art piece on Teshima island.

Photo by: Kimon Berlin Artwork merges with Teshima’s remote, rural landscape Photo by Kimon Berlin.

The island’s transformation began with the somewhat misleadingly named Teshima Art Museum, which actually houses only one installation. The smooth, water drop-shaped building has two large holes, opening up the structure and anyone standing inside it to nature’s light, sounds, and weather phenomena. The effect is one of extreme calmness, even as time keeps passing.

At the far eastern end of the island stands Les Archives du Cœur, one of multiple sites worldwide where one can record their heartbeat and listen to others’.

After making the recording, you can instantly hear your heartbeat drum from the speakers in the profoundly moving Heart Room.

Grab a meal at Shima Kitchen, where local women are trained by 4-star hotel chefs to serve up delicious meals using the island’s native ingredients. Events are frequently held in the outdoor theatre, and guests are invited to meet new people and converse openly.

A piece from the 2013 Setouchi Triennale festival, held every three years. Photo by cotaro70s.

Scattered around the island’s three fishing villages are various other conceptual artworks, like the Teshima Yokoo House, Needle Factory, and Teshima 8 Million Lab. The best way to take it all in is by renting an electric bicycle near the port and going at your own pace. Cycling up and down the solitary hills, there really is a rush of joy whenever one of these otherworldly art pieces reveals itself.

Things To Know

The Setouchi Triennale

The Setouchi Trienniale is an art festival held every three years on Teshima and other “art islands” (including Naoshima) in the region. If you can line up your visit to coincide with the festival, many new works are unveiled at this time, some of which will disappear when the festival ends. The next festival will be held in 2016: http://setouchi-artfest.jp/en/

How To Get There


Teshima, Tonosho, Shozu District, Kagawa Prefecture, Japan

By boat

Teshima can be accessed from the nearby ports of Uno near Okayama, or Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture.

From Okayama, take the train to Uno Station, which is a short walk from Uno Port. There are ferries every 1-2 hours to Ieura Port on Teshima (¥770, 25-40 minutes).

From Takamatsu Port, close to Takamatsu Station, there are 6 boats a day to Ieura (¥1330, 35-50 minutes). An additional 4 boats per day will take you to Karato Port, on the east side of the island (¥1330, 35 minutes).

Where To Stay

Naoshima Ryokan Roka
  • 1234 Naoshimachoichien, Kagawa-gun Naoshima-cho, Kagawa, 761-3110 Japan
  • ¥118,800 - ¥118,800
  • 1.5/5 (6 reviews)
  • 7.7 km
Shodo Island Hot Spring Ohkido Hotel
  • 5165-216 Ko.otsu (Minatoshimmachi), Shozu-gun Tonosho-cho, Kagawa, 761-4102 Japan
  • ¥8,800 - ¥26,400
  • 4/5 (444 reviews)
  • 9.2 km

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