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For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni
For other destinations and types of holiday, visit Kuoni 

Things to do in Japan

Why art lovers fall in love with Naoshima

You don’t just view the art but ‘experience’ it, using a variety of senses…

By Reiko Takemaru
Guide in Naoshima

Modern artwork on Naoshima island

What attracts people to Naoshima island is not just white sands and sparkling blue Seto Inland Sea but rather the art and architecture by world-famous artists. Exhibited both indoors and outside among nature, you don’t just view the artwork but ‘experience’ it, using a variety of senses.

Our first stop is Honmura, a small port town on the island’s eastern coast occupied by the Art House Project, a collection of abandoned houses, workshops, a temple and shrine converted into art installations. From the outside, the wooden buildings conform to the traditional architecture that survived the great fires of the Edo period, while interiors have been taken over by contemporary artists and their contrasting works. Here you can witness this longstanding relationship between nature and people throughout the ages.

We then visit the Chichu Art Museum built into the hillside on Naoshima’s southern coast (literally translated to ‘in the earth’). Its steel, glass and concrete structures uniquely house works by artists such as Monet and James Turrell. The building is designed by self-taught architect, Ando Tadao, whose underground galleries impactfully filter natural light to illuminate each piece.

Last stop is Benesse House Museum parts of which untraditionally extend to the outdoors, inspiring you to reflect on how humans are in a way trapped by common sense. It just encourages you to think outside of the box. My favourite memory of Naoshima is when I was guiding someone whose father was the president of an ice cream manufacturer. I recommended he try one of the local ice creams using the island’s own salt and he was absolutely enthralled by it. He even said he would develop a new flavoured ice cream based on it. This just reiterates how travelling can inspire people to do something new.


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Alfred & Reiko Takemaru

Reiko is an experienced tour guide who is passionate about art. Her knowledge encompasses paintings and sculptures by both Japanese and Western artists, and potteries unique to the Okayama area. She mainly guides in the art islands of Naoshima and Teshima set in the Seto-inland sea, as well as at landmarks in Okayama, Shikoku.
Reiko Takemaru

Plan your holiday withAlfred&

Your journey will start with one of our UK team – someone like Richard, who's travelled extensively in Japan. They’ll shape your ideas into the trip of a lifetime. But they won't do it alone. They'll draw on the expertise of our contacts on the ground, connecting you to the people who'll make your holiday one you'll always remember - the tea devotee who'll introduce you to the ceremony surrounding Japan's national drink, the noodle guru who'll teach you how to make the perfect bowl of soba and the ryokan owner who'll tutor you in the relaxing art of the onsen.

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