Teshima & Naoshima

Dear friends and family,

Back on the road again.

Public art at the ferry terminal in Takamatsu. Takamatsu is a lively little city with ferry connections to many of the islands and cities around the Inland Sea.

This is the high-speed boat we are taking to Teshima. 

The crowd of people wishing to go to Teshima were too many for the boat's seats, so the crew got out some miniature folding chairs, probably about 6 inches off the ground, and fit them into the aisle. If only we had posed Don sitting in one, it would have made a great Big in Japan picture. We were fortunate to score the actual seats.

Studying a map of the islands.

Rice paddies on Teshima.

We rented bikes; they were electric assist, which was helpful as Teshima is quite mountainous. But that also means they were pretty heavy. We ended up riding around the entire island. My bike veered a little to the left; kind of scary as the roads were very narrow and there were steep, fairly deep culverts on the left side. The bike ran away from me once and I fell off once. Don was thankful that we got through it intact, and the bikes also.

Small fishing village where we stopped to have a picnic lunch. Actually, something we picked up from 7-11, which is pretty different from the 7-11s in the States. The food is completely different and miles better. Circumnavigating Teshima involves going up into the mountains and down to the villages which are generally at the seaside.

Don took this panorama, the only picture I think we got of us with our bikes. You can see the sea in the background and the lush, green Japanese countryside.

Beautiful vistas

We can start to see the Teshima Museum here, which is more like the Teshima Art Environment. We were not allowed to take photos inside, but it is a beautifully designed, other worldly space. An opening to the elements through an oval hole in the roof and the door openings. The floor is a smooth, apparently porous concrete. There are round balls of ice, I think, in various stages of melting, and small amounts of water which seep through the floor and through little almost invisible openings, then gathers, collects and suddenly spills or rolls seemingly randomly across the floor, slowly or very rapidly to one of the very small round openings. Hard to describe. On a hot day like the day we were there, it was a wonderful, cool and relaxing environment - and definitely strange.

To get to the "Museum" one must walk through a lush landscape, which is completely typical of these islands and this part of Japan. Really a jungle.

Closer to the Museum; one can see the opening in the roof.

And the photos below are something we found on the web, as photos are definitely not allowed inside. Diligent young guards keep a sharp eye out.

The beach where Christopher Boltansky's art project is located. We were pretty disappointed with the art projects we saw on Teshima. We thought the ones on Naoshima were far better, but Mr. Boltansky's project was located on this beautiful beach.

Legs wobbling, we returned our bikes and took the ferry to Naoshima.

Practicing the fine Japanese art of sleeping while standing up. Sleeping while sitting up is frequently seen, but these fine examples of sleeping while standing are a more rare sighting.

When we got to Naoshima it was raining. We had tried months ago to get a room at the Benesse House Museum, a Tadao Ando designed museum with rooms actually in the museum. It is really cool to stay there; you have a key to the museum and can visit it late at night. But it was all booked. Must have been a tour.

We ended up staying in a guest house in the older part of Naoshima, Honmura. The guest house was very hard to find. It reminded me of the old days, before GPS, when you would wander around a Greek Island, for example, trying to find the room you had booked. Our GPS was not working well in Naoshima. Finally, a kind lady, taking a walk, knew where the guest house was and took us there. The guest house was run by a woman who takes in stray cats, although she is careful to keep them out of the guests' bedrooms. It was very reminiscent of old cabins our family rented in the 'fifties and early 'sixties.

From the I'm Big in Japan series.

Walked around Naoshima, visited a beautiful little shrine in the rain.

I believe this to be a Shinto sacred tree. Sorry, I don't know much about it, except that certain trees, rocks, animals are considered sacred in Shinto. This tree was certainly old and venerable.

And decorated.

Also visited the new Tadao Ando Museum, which has displays of his designs and his commentary on different projects he has worked on. The museum was built inside the shell of an old house and, as is usual with Ando, was beautifully designed and sculptural. Photos were not allowed, but this one found its way onto one of our cameras.

Maybe it was the rain, but we decided to leave Naoshima early. We didn't go to the Art Houses which we had enjoyed so much last time. We were booked into a hotel in Okayama that evening, anyway.

Don with ferry. We thought about including this in the Big in Japan series, but it could look like a mere distortion from the camera. It was a small ferry, and a very short ferry ride to the mainland and then a short train ride to Okayama.

Love from Japan,

Era and Don