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 village 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 island people, 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 of 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.