Today I want to tell you a little bit about Honmura, one of the few villages of Naoshima. I’m not sure how many people live there, I’m tempted to say about a thousand as Naoshima has about 3,300 inhabitants and three villages roughly of the same size (well, actually Miyanoura is a bit larger, and Tsumura a bit smaller).
Just like the rest of the island, it used to mostly be a fishing village, although a certain number of people must also be workers at the Mitsubishi Materials copper refinery and melting plant that has been on the island since 1917 or another of the few industries that are also installed on the north part of the island (among them Kagawa Naoshima Environment Center that processes Teshima’s industrial waste – if you don’t know what this is, I’ll tell you more about it one day). However, in the past two decades, the village has changed a lot, through the indirect (or even direct) influence of the Benesse Art Site and the fact that it houses the buildings from the Art House Project.
Nowadays, Honmura has really embraced its new status and it has managed to mix tradition, modernity, art, and tourism in a perfect way. Not only it hasn’t lost its soul, but it has become one of the most charming villages I have visited in recent years (in Japan or elsewhere).
When you walk through Honmura‘s streets, you can’t help but notice some small elements here and there that show how proud its inhabitants are to now be part of this Art Island that Naoshima has become.
I have heard that not everything went as smoothly in the very beginning, and it won’t come as a surprise to you to hear that islanders, especially on such small islands, are not always completely open to new things and to strangers at first, but little by little they do accept and embrace it. It just takes longer than in some other places. And nowadays, there is no doubt that the people of Honmura think of all of this when you see all of these little “homemade” art installations in front of many houses and that play a big part in making strolling through these streets such a pleasure.
I’m not gonna blabber any longer, just show you a few pictures and hope that you too will get to experience this wonderful place sooner or later.
HI David. Lovely to read another post from you about Honmura, and see more of your photos. I too thought this village really charming. I’m planning to return for a two-week stay during the autumn session next year, and would love to stay in Honmura for a few days. Would it be possible to arrange accommodation in advance, do you think? I’ll be travelling this time with a friend who speaks Japanese, but I figure all the accom may well be booked out during Setouchi Triennale. I’d very much appreciate any tips.
Hi Kate, and thanks for the kind words.
As usually, lodging and accommodation is where my knowledge lacks when dealing with the islands. A lot of places open (and close?) on a regular basis, and it’s hard to keep up with it. So, it’s an area where I let the “professionals” (tripadvisor and such) do the work.
I try to maintain a list on Foursquare, but I don’t know most of the places and can’t advise one over the other:
In other words, yes, it’s most likely possible to sleep there during the Triennale, and it’s probably not booked yet (I assume it’s a different story for Spring, but Autumn should still be OK, I guess…). Unfortunately, I can’t really advise you a place in particular in Honmura.
I hope this helps at least a little.