Naoshima – Day 5 Recap
We checked out of our seaside hotel a little earlier this morning. Our bus driver, who is prompt and wants to be sure we make good time, was a little concerned about traffic delaying us on our way to the port. The ferry we needed to catch leaves every hour, but we wanted to get on the earliest one so we could get into Naoshima before the crowds. These inter-island ferries are set up to transfer people and vehicles, which makes for convenient travel, and we got to take our bus along with us. Our first stop in Naoshima was the Miyaura port. The ferry terminal seems like a really simple structure, but it’s actually an architectural feat. It is made to look as light as possible but also withstand earthquakes.
Naoshima has had an interesting transformation over the past two decades and has become one of the world’s most interesting locations for contemporary art. People of the island began moving out over the years and would leave their homes behind.
In an effort to revive the island, artists were invited to take advantage of these empty buildings and create Art Houses that can be visited by tourists. The art houses tend to be small, so our group split in two for the first two sites. Tadao Ando is one of the most prominent designers on the island having designed many of the museum buildings. Our first stop was a museum he created for himself. It seems slightly pretentious, but it was actually well done and made sense on this island since he has been so influential. We then went into the Minami-dera art house. The exterior was designed by Ando and the inside is a James Turrell exhibit. We were instructed to enter the building in complete darkness and had to feel our way around a corner and to a bench. We then were told to sit quietly for 5 minutes until our eyes adjusted, and we could see. At the end of the room was a dimly lit rectangular that looked a little like a movie screen. After about 5 minutes we could start to make out the four walls in the room and see silhouettes of people. We then were instructed to walk towards the rectangle and touch it. When we got to the rectangle we realized that it was empty space and we could put our arms through it. It was so cool! Some people thought it was like an end of life experience. I don’t know about that, but we all loved the experience of this exhibit.
From here, we traveled to the Benesse House Museum for a beautiful and artistic Japanese lunch. The Benesse Foundation funded much of the island’s artistic revival. After exploring the museum and taking some photos, which were not allowed we later learned, we split into two groups to see the Lee Ufan museum and the Chichu Art Museum. Nearly everyone loved the Chichu Museum, but some of us were a little confused by the Lee Ufan museum.
The Chichu museum was designed by Ando and housed the work of three artists: Monet, James Turrell, and Walter de Maria. I asked a few people, and it seems like the favorites were the Turrell exhibits, which isn’t surprising. Cindy mentioned that the Monets weren’t his most significant work, but the presentation and use of space in the museum made it all exquisite. The use of light, space, and material made this an experience unlike most museum visits. Personally, this was my favorite day.
We got back on the ferry with our bus and departed for the city of Takamatsu for a free evening and a chance to catch up on sleep or go on a run. Mimi and Kuma, btw, have been running everyday of this trip. They are our heroes. Great day!