Naoshima, Art Island

Hi friends and family,

Thank God we went to Naoshima. Although Edie had highly recommended it and urged us to go, I am not sure if we would have made the effort without Lewis and Chandra's planning and motivation. The route involved taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Okayama, transferring to a smaller local train, wheeling our luggage to a ferry terminal, and finally the ferry to Naoshima, a small island in the Inland Sea of Japan.

We were picked up by the bus service provided by our hotel, Benesse House. Benesse is a Japanese publisher of textbooks with exquisite taste in art (with a few exceptions). The Park, where we stayed, was designed by Tadao Ando, a former boxer and an absolute genius of an architect who apparently has no formal architectural training. The Park, which is the least expensive of the 3 hotels which are part of the Benesse House, was barely affordable for us, esp. considering our trip is 2 and a half weeks long, but it so beautifully designed, so perfect in every way, that we were very glad we opted to stay for 2 nights. It's like staying in the most gorgeous contemporary museum with a James Bond flair. In fact, they are thinking of filming a James Bond movie here.

Hall from Reception to the Elevators.

The island is dotted with outdoor sculpture, installations and museums. In one of the fishing villages, old houses have been converted into art installations. Finding all of the art projects is like a scavenger hunt. In fact, we realized afterwards that we had missed one: Cai Guo-Giang's Cultural Melting Bath, a rock garden installed by the sea. However, I think that was the only installation we missed, not a small feat, as this same mysterious Japanese holiday caused the museums to be closed on Tuesday, instead of Monday, so we had to see the Chichu Museum and the art houses on the morning before we left for Tokyo.

The Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama

Cliff Screen by ??

Walter De Maria sculpture, local boy, born in Albany, CA. There was an absolutely gorgeous Walter De Maria installation inside the Chichu Museum which we were not allowed to photograph.

Photos from inside one of the art houses:

Sea of Time by Tatsuo Miyajima. You walk into a small Japanese house, inside are shoji screens, wood walls and frame, the wooden beams holding up the house and dark water where the tatami mats would be. The liquid crystal lights in varied colors blink silently in the water. Stunning.

Go'o Shrine with "ice" stairs by ??

Water Garden outside the Chichu Museum. The Chichu has a number of Monets in their collection.

Naoshima, a place unique on this Earth. I would only wish that we had planned an extra day to visit Isamu Noguchi's studio, which is nearby (another ferry ride) and is supposed to be great.


Era and Don