Lately, I’ve been spending way too much time indoors, and I also realized that I hadn’t even been to an island since last Fall. So, on Tuesday, it was settled, I was going to spend the day on Naoshima.
It was a pretty nice day overall. While foreign tourists have returned, they’re not too numerous yet. Apart from a couple of buses of middle-aged Korean (and/or Chinese?) women (gosh, I haven’t run into Korean people in so long, that I can’t distinguish their language from Chinese anymore, sorry about that), it mostly was solo travelers and couples from Europe and North America (Australia too?) Sadly, most of them didn’t seem aware that there is a pandemic going on with a nasty virus making the rounds and messing people up. Do they even own masks?
As always, Yayoi Kusama‘s Red Pumpkin is the first one to welcome you when you get to the island.
You don’t know how difficult it is to take these pictures with no one around it. I do have a technique, though. No, I will not share it online. 😉
I think it’s even more difficult to take a picture of Sou Fujimoto‘s Naoshima Pavilion with no one around. I didn’t even succeed with the one above (I did with the one below, though).
Some new apartments (guest houses?) are being built nearby.
I like their looks (not sure if they’ll look the same once finished.)
I didn’t stay long in Miyanoura and soon walked to Honmura, on the other side of the island. Yes, the goal of the day was to spend time outside and get some exercise, so I only took the bus once (on the way back) and walked the rest of the time. If you can, walking around the island is the best way to discover it in my opinion.
Hiroshi Sambuichi‘s Naoshima Hall remains one of my favorite buildings on the island. I’m afraid that it’s not used often enough, though. I’m afraid it may not age well if whoever is in charge of the upkeep is not serious enough about it.
On the other hand, whoever owns this garden has been maintaining it very well. I don’t think it has changed since the first time I saw it 13 years ago. Usually, I would never take a picture of someone’s garden (and advise you against doing it), but here, the owners know exactly what they’re doing. I’ve never seen this door closed. They want you to see how beautiful their garden is. On the other hand, don’t think about getting closer. This is private property after all.
Honmura streets and buildings (click on the thumbnail to see the complete picture)
(fun fact, the island in the background is Ogijima and if you look very closely,
you can see the lighthouse between the fishing boat and the pier)
Then, I decided to walk to the south side of the island to the Benesse Art Sites.
But before that, while I didn’t visit them that day, know that Honmura is home to the Art House Project. You can learn more about it there:
Leaving Honmura, I got a glimpse of Ryokan Roka, a new luxury hotel on Naoshima. It opened just a year ago (it was still a construction site the last time I walked there). I don’t really have anything to say about it. It looks nice from the outside. I guess it’s good that Benesse has some sort of competition. Overall, I don’t care that much; I’m too poor to even consider spending the night there one day (unless all people reading this make a donation so that I can try it? What do you think? In any case, if you want to thank me for this article and my overall work on this site, click here).
You may go to Naoshima for its art but don’t forget to enjoy its nature too.
Tadao Ando‘s Labyrinth of Cherry Blossoms.
Maybe it’s interesting when the flowers are blooming… Maybe…
Kimiyo Mishima‘s Another Rebirth
Naoshima’s biggest piece of trash. You decide if this needs to be taken literally or figuratively.
(personally, I’d probably like it more if it was in an urban environment)
The good thing about slightly older Korean and Chinese ladies is that they do not stand out at all when they’re in the frame. Also, they’re often in the frame.
Okay, to be totally be honest, I kinda like this picture. I like it much less when there are a dozen of them, and they’re completely oblivious that they’re not the only ones around.
By the way, this is the Lee Ufan Museum and right below, La Porte de l’Infini, by Lee Ufan too.
I know it’s a cultural difference, but I just don’t get going on the other side of the planet (or the sea in their case) to take pictures of… themselves… When it’s narcissists on Instagram, I get it, but when it’s regular people, it baffles me. I mean, it’s fine to take “some” pictures of yourself there. But it seems that this is all they do.
I had to wait almost 10 minutes to be able to take this picture. Yes, because of the women above. They all posed a good dozen times each… And I had about 20 seconds to take it before someone else got into the frame.
Someone is actually in the frame here. Just behind the rock. Taking pictures of artworks on Naoshima requires skills and experience. 😉
To give you an idea, this is what it looked like from the other side.
I even attempted vlogging, not my forte, nor something I’m very interested in doing regularly, but who knows, I may try it more often in the future.
Cai Guo-Qiang‘s Cultural Melting Bath: Project for Naoshima.
There too, I had to juggle people taking silly pictures for hours (probably from the same touring group)
George Rickey‘s Three Squares Vertical Diagonal is one of my favorite artworks on the island. But to fully appreciate it you need the right conditions. Namely, good weather and a gentle breeze (and no idiotic tourist that damaged it, it malfunctioned for years because of one of those).
Luckily, the weather was nice, there was a gentle breeze, and no idiotic tourist seemed to have approached it in a while.
It’s part of the Benesse House Museum‘s outdoor artworks.
If you want to know more about the Museum itself, please, click below:
Niki de Saint Phalle‘s Le Banc
More of Nike de Saint Phalle’s works are in the same part of the island.
I realized that I rarely go to Naoshima during this time of the year (mid-Spring) and it’s nice to see the Park with some flowers on the ground (it’s just clover – I think – but still).
I know a lot of you have been waiting for it since the beginning of this article, so here it is:
Yayoi Kusama‘s Yellow Pumpkin in all of its splendor!
Oh, an important piece of advice when you’re there. If people are already near the Pumpkin, it’s common practice and basic courtesy to wait in line for your turn to approach it.
When I arrived there was no line (which is rare, but once again, the island was far from being crowded like it used to be pre-pandemic), there was a couple taking selfies in front of it. So, I waited. A family arrived after me and waited too, looking at me wondering what I was doing, waiting with my camera in my hands and not doing anything. As soon as the couple was done, the family started to get near the sculpture. I had to gently, but firmly, tell them to wait for their turn. I can’t blame them, they didn’t know. I do blame their lack of common sense, though. Oh well…
After that, it was time to return to Miyanoura (by bus this time) and go visit my friend Andrew. You should visit his shop when you’re on Naoshima: Art Island Center.
I also took a few more pictures of some more of Miyanoura’s landmarks.
The Naoshima Plan “Ju.” Hiroshi Sambuichi’s newest building on the island. It was part of the Setouchi Triennale 2022. Now it’s supposed to be apartments. I’m not sure if anyone actually lives there now or not. The front doors already look like they’re not in great shape. Hmmm…
Miyanoura Gallery Six
(I think it’s only open on the weekends at the moment)
It was soon time to return to Takamatsu, where I could see an old friend, Meon (it’s the ferry).
Damn, I haven’t hopped on it in far too long. It has to be my next trip, right?
Stay tuned for more…
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