Complete Guide to Naoshima – Japan’s Art Island

Red pumpkin Yayaoi Kusama Naoshima Shikoku

Naoshima is an art island located in the Seto Inland Sea in Japan. It has been gotten more attentions lately due to the beautiful sea and a number of modern museums and galleries which house impressive artworks. Becoming a new center of the contemporary art, there are more visitors coming to the island from all over the world. This scenic island is located in the Shikoku Region, a beautiful region that isn’t discovered by the large crowds of tourists. In this article, we will share things to do in Naoshima focusing on art museums which will touch your heart!

Kurushima Strait Boat Tour & Shimanami Kaido Cycling Tour
See one of Japan's three great tidal currents—the Kurushima Strait rapids—by boat. Cycle over the world's largest suspension bridge—the Kurushima Kaikyo Bridge—...

How to get there

From Tokyo and Osaka, you can take Shinkansen to Okayama prefecture. Regular ferry service is available from the Uno Port to the Miyanoura Port, the main gateway on Naoshima. It takes only 20 minutes by ferry to get to Naoshima Island. Check the article below, we explained more details and other options there!

How To Get To Naoshima Island - The Contemporary Art Island
Noashima is the famous art islands located in between Kyoto and Hiroshima. When you are looking for a cultural getaway, this is a great option! In this article we will explain the different ways of travelling to the island.

When to visit Naoshima

Summer is probably the best season to visit Naoshima if you want to enjoy the beautiful sea and lush summer plants. Spring could be another option for those of you who prefer mild weather and avoid the crowds during the summer vacation season! 

Enjoy arts in Naoshima

Red and Yellow Pumpkin

Once you arrived at the Miyanoura Port, you will be welcomed by a symbolic piece, Red Pumpkin created by a famous Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. It has lots of black dots on it, and always packed with tourists to try to take pictures! Another famous pumpkin can be found in the place which is 10 minutes away by bus. The yellow pumpkin stands silently in a perfect harmony with the peaceful sea.
Yayoi Kusama has created many artworks with dot motifs and it is said that she has been suffered from the schizophrenia from her childhood and she kept drawing dot motifs to get away from the hallucination. These dot motifs are considered as protection from her disease and she chose pumpkins for her artworks with a message that nothings is the same, everything has different shape and size and that makes it beautiful.

Chichu Art Museum

Founded in 2004, Chichu Art Museum is one of the most popular art museums in Naoshima. Most part of the museum is underground, which makes it an unique structure perfectly matches the surroundings in harmony with nature. You can enjoy stunning artworks by world-famous artists and talents such as Claude Monet, Walter De Maria, and Tadao Ando who designed this museum. Natural light coming through the modern structure helps you observe the authentic pieces with different impression depending on time and the weather. Online reservation is required for all visitors prior to their visit.

Opening hours

10am – 6pm (Mar. to Sep.) 10am – 5pm (Oct to Feb.)

Admissions ¥2,100 (Adults) Free admission for under 15 years old

Lee Ufan Museum

Photo by 松岡明芳

Lee Ufan Museum is another museum also designed by Tadao Ando. The simple and sophisticated design resonates with a large collection of artworks by Lee Ufan, a world-renowned artist. The stunning paintings and sculptures give us an opportunity to reconsider about ourselves and the modern society through an artificial experience.

Opening hours

10am – 6pm (Mar. to Sep.) 10am – 5pm (Oct to Feb.)
※Closed on Monday

Admissions ¥1,050 (Adults) Free admission for under 15 years old

Benesse House Museum

Photo by 663highland

As one of the biggest and most popular museums on Naoshima, Benesse House Museum offers a range of services and experiences for tourists. Since its opening in 1992, it has been welcoming a number of tourists with a concept of “coexistence of nature, art and architecture.” You can find interesting works such as paintings, pictures, sculptures, and installations displayed everywhere even outside the building. There are a fancy Japanese restaurant and a café serving pleasant dishes at the museum too. It also plays a role as a hotel to offer comfortable accommodation for tourists as well!

Opening hours

10am – 6pm

Admissions ¥1,050 (Adults) Free admission for under 15 years old

Ando Museum

Photo by chinnian

Don’t forget to check Ando Museum which houses informative photos and sketches on Aondo’s works and achievements! It also helps you learn about the history of the island while walking around the 100-year old traditional Japanese house in Honmura village. Gokuraku-ji Temple is another must visit spot just across from the museum. It is a Shingon Sect temple dating back about 1,200 years ago. Designated as Tangible Cultural Property, it gives you a traditional experience completely different from modern museums around!  

Opening hours

10am – 4:30pm
※Closed on Monday

Admissions ¥520 (Adults) Free admission for under 15 years old

Art House Project

Art House Project is an unique project aiming to revitalize the island through the renovation of old houses into works of art in Honmura Village area. Started in 1998 with “Kadoya”, the first renovated location,  there are currently 6 other locations including “Ishibashi”, “Haisha”, “Gokaisho”, “Kadoya”, “Go’o Shrine”, “Minamidera”, and “Kinza”. Each of them has respective features and offers a variety of benefits for both locals and tourists such as galleries and a helpful information center. It is a perfect place to enjoy artworks that can be found in harmony with the local community while exploring the historical area! 

Gotanji Beach

Situated in the south of the island, Gotanji Beach offers a relaxing time surrounded by nature and the beautiful sea. The sea is shallow and doesn’t get deep for a quite distance, which allows you to swim in the clear water. In summer, Naoshima fire festival is held around the beach with more than 1,800 fireworks beautifully lighting up the sky.

Naoshima Hall

Naoshima Hall is a community center designed by Hiroshi Sambuichi. The beautiful roof is completely covered with Japanese cypress, and the walls inside of the building are coated in spotless white with Shikkui, traditional Japanese plaster. The unique design enables an automatic air circulation, which means the air inside the building is replaced with fresh one regularly without electricity! The hall plays a role as a center of social community, and is used for multi-purposes such as cultural activities for local people!

Naoshima Bath “I♥︎湯”

Naoshima Bath “I♥︎湯” is an unique public Onsen designed by Shinro Otake, a famous Japanese artist. This bathhouse is decorated with fabulous artworks such as paintings and sculptures. The staff is welcoming and friendly, and you can purchase a cute designed towel with an original logo on it. It is an ideal spot to get refreshed while enjoying the fantastic art, it will be totally different bathing experience in Japan!

Opening hours

1pm – 9pm
※Closed on Monday

Admissions ¥660 (Adults) ¥310(under 15 years old)
Free admission for under 3 years old 

Where to stay

MY LODGE Naoshima ―Very comfortable room with beautiful ocean view, this simple lodge makes you feel like staying at your friend’s place.
Guest house Roji to Akari ― Located in front of Minamidera which is one of the Art House Project, this guest house was renovated from the traditional house. Quiet area to stay.
sana mane ― Glamping resort where you can stay in the dome style tent, surrounded by mountains. In front of the tent, you can have private beach to yourself!

Don’t forget to check out our private tour!

If you need some help to organize your trip to Japan, you should definitely check out our private tour including English guide. We’re glad to help you make your trip to Japan a safe, comfortable, and unforgettable memory!

Tokyo Fish Market Tour @Tsukiji – Enjoy Local Food and Drink
Join our most popular tour in Tokyo before you head to Naoshima! We take you to a world-famous fish market “Tsukiji” to enjoy local food and drink!

[Virtual Tour] Kyoto Highlights
Kyoto is another popular destination in Japan located in the Kansai region. Get a chance to explore the historical city with our online tour which helps you get ready for your next trip!

Visiting a remote island will be a completely different experience from visiting only urbanized areas. Get unwind in the refreshing island while exploring the impressive museums and galleries! 

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Happy travelling!

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