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The Setouchi Triennale 2019 preparations are underway!

Well, some preparations of the Setouchi Triennale 2019 have started a while ago (pretty much as soon as the 2016 edition was over), some others won’t really get started before a few more months, but they kinda started for me at least. 😉

First of all, the main batch of general information has been published in Japanese this week, hopefully the English version will follow soon.

Also, on Tuesday, I was in the Koebi Tai (which has been renamed Koebi Network if I understood right) office for a few things, and I could collect some more pieces of information.

So, here is all that I can share with you at the moment in no particular order (most – if not all – can be found in the document in Japanese linked above if you can read the language).


The View from Koebi and Setouchi Triennale Organizing Committee Office
The view from Koebi-tai’s office. Could be worse…


This year, the festival will focus a bit more more on local resources, with more involvement from local artists, craftspeople and organizations. For example, Kagawa University will actually be involved in a few projects among other people and groups (more on this later in this post).

Kitahama Alley (the trendy renovated – and gentrified – neighborhood in north Takamatsu, right to the east of Sunport) will be the main venue for a lot of local activities and art based in Takamatsu (as opposed to Sunport in the previous editions). Is it because the planned major construction in Sunport will start in 2019? Not sure (yes, for better and worse, there is a big construction project at Sunport that will start soon – more details another day, as it’s not really related to the Setouchi Triennale, even though some familiar names are involved *cough* SANAA *cough* 😉 ).

A certain number of projects will revolve around food. You know Japanese people, they’ll go to the other side of the country just to try a new dish. In 2016, there were already a certain number of projects based on food. The concept will be expanded next year.

There also will be more performing arts involved in the Triennale. Such events are sometimes the highlights of the Festival (I’m thinking of Snuff Puppets or Seppuku Pistols for example in 2016), however, they’re harder to publicize to people coming from afar, as you have to be there at the right place and the right time (even we, locals sometimes have trouble attending all the events we’re interested in because of… you know… life…)

There will be about 200 art projects including 77 new ones (including 55 new artists as well as 27 performances and events, most of them are new too).

The Art Passport will as usual be available too. For 3,800 yens (if you buy in advance) or 4,800 yens if you buy them after the start of the Triennale you can access most of the art for free (or cheaper for some more expensive installation, with the exception of the Chichu Art Museum and the Teshima Art Museum, you’ll still have to pay full price for them). Everything is free is you’re under 15, though.
You can buy the Art Passport on the official website, in convenience stores and many ticket agencies too. Well, you can’t yet as I’m typing these lines, but you’ll be able to in a matter of days.

The 3-Day Ferry Pass will also be implemented in a similar fashion as in 2016 (valid for three consecutive days on most – but not all – ferry routes).

There will be official tours ! (that’s the main reason why I was in the Triennale’s offices earlier this week)
It’s a new service offered by the Triennale next year. Group Tours to visit the islands. So, if group tours are your thing, you’ll be able to visit some islands this way (with chartered boats, guides and all that.

The official website is still available in five languages (Japanese, English, Chinese (traditional), Chinese (simplified) and Korean), it will be revamped any day now.

Just like in 2016, there will also be a mobile app available in March 2019.

The official guidebook will also be published sooner or later. Hoping the English version gets published a bit earlier this year, if I remember correctly, it wasn’t available until the Summer in 2016. Oh well, that what this present site is for anyway. 😉

Now, the list of new artists (or returning ones with new art). I’m not listing the permanent art from previous Triennales (I’ll try to have a detailed list here one of those days, but the official site has one – and in case you can read French, I do have a complete detailed list on my French site – it tends to have more factual content about the Triennale than this one as a lot of official information is available in English, none is in French).


Seto Inland Sea from Onba Factory on Ogijima
Seto Inland Sea seen from Onba Factory on Ogijima


Warning: I linked to the official sites (or other sites) of the artists in the following section. For some reason, Japanese webmasters are very slow at adopting the https standard, and many links may return a warning as unsafe when you click on them, depending on what kind of browser you use, if you’re on a private or public computer, etc. They are safe, they’re just annoyingly late to change from http to https.


  • There will be new temporary exhibits at Miyanoura Gallery Six.
  • There will be some new art and/or changes at the Lee Ufan Museum

If you’re surprised by the lack of new things on Naoshima, let me remind you that the Setouchi Triennale and the art on Naoshima are two separate entities (foreign visitors tend to confuse them sometimes). The Benesse Art Site Naoshima Foundation is its own thing, completely separate from the Triennale. It just happens to join it every three years and that’s all.













Location to be determined

Those were all the physical art that’s about to come our way.

As previously mentioned, there is also a certain number of events and performance. Here are the ones that are known for now (I’m sure there will be more)


  • Yoshi Ochi
  • Amuse
  • Naoshima Women Bunraku


  • Island Birthdays (now an island tradition)




  • Oshima Kodomo Summer Camp


  • Setouchi Girls Theater Company


  • Setouchi Art Book Fair
  • Christiaan Bastiaans and Liv Ullmann
  • Safari P

Uno Port

Several Locations

Location to be determined

OK, that’s all I got for today.

I guess that’s enough. 😉


Sunport at Night


16 thoughts on “The Setouchi Triennale 2019 preparations are underway!”

  1. Hey David. Thank you so much for the update! This is fantastic. Your efforts are much appreciated as an ambassdor for the Triennale and Setouchi.

  2. Thanks for the preview as always. Wish I had more time to read your page but, life. 😉

    Just note, the guidebook in Japanese is planned to be sold in April. Might be earlier, might be later, but the first link you had says early April.

    I hope the 3-day ferry pass will be better than last time. The 2013 one was the best, but if it is like 2016, looks like I won’t be getting it again. Hopefully I’ll have a full week to explore everything. Most likely 5 days though, with work afterwards. Seems only 8 routes will be part of the pass though, if I read things correctly.

    If I do get to go for spring, gotta do a day on Ogijima and Megijima. Probably spend a night on Ogi again, hopefully the weather will be perfect. Also need to hit up Shamijima. Then hopefully enough time to visit Shodoshima and Teshima. From the looks of things, Uno is not worth it for those who visited in 2016. Will have to wait for the guidebook till I can decide.

    Currently thinking I’ll be there after Golden Week. Hope you are ready. 😉

    1. Yeah, I didn’t write any date, because I know from experience that they’re not always accurate (I already got a few e-mails from people who are worried because we’re in November and the Art Passport are not available for sale yet (apparently October had been announced at some point in time).

      The 3-Day Ferry Pass sounds very similar to what it was in 2016, and I wasn’t a big fan either. I’m not even sure I’ll have three consecutive days next year, maybe in Summer. I assume that the ferry companies lost money in 2013, I know I used the Ferry Pass at the time, quite a few times, especially because it included fast boats. Oh well.

      The weather should be great during the Spring session (well, “should” being the keyword, the weather forecast for these days hasn’t been published yet 😉 )

      I’ll try to go to Uno next year (didn’t have time in 2016 – yes, I know…), but I’ll probably skip Inujima (went twice in 2016) and probably even Naoshima (at least in the Spring when it’ll be super crowded), I’ve been twice this month, I usually go only once a year or less. Still, I want to see Naoshima Hall being open. We’ll see.

      What bums be is that I really won’t have enough time in the Spring, unless I go during Golden Week, but I really don’t want to. The islands, even the small ones, are insane during Golden Week when it’s not the Triennale, what were they thinking? Well, I know what they were thinking: bigger number of visitors to show at the end of the year, as the numbers from 2016 didn’t show an increase from 2013.
      I’ll save the days for when you’re here and I can “escape” (usually week-ends and Tuesdays).

      What I’m thinking about doing is still taking a few days off late-March early-April to visit more sites as they’re being built. Didn’t do it enough in 2016 (I was in the process of changing jobs), but really enjoyed doing it in 2013. I even have a small hope for something, but I’m keeping mum here about it. 😉

      1. I wish I visited your site more often during the “off-season”. I know you post a lot of interesting stuff but been too busy the past year and a half. Definitely going to check in more and more as the Triennale ramps up.

        Right now, Golden Week is a no for me. I need to stay home as my better half is thinking to go to Thailand. We travel separately now, especially with a dog in tow so post-GW is looking stronger and stronger. Might do the end of the session, even though the weather will be riskier. Even considering heading to the Shimanami Kaido area. Will probably head to Matsuyama after a week in Takamatsu and do a few days of work there. Gonna need to ask you a few things before I arrive too.

        Anyways, probably rambling now. 🙂 Finally have a trip where I won’t be doing any work for part of it. Looking forward to it.

        1. I wish you did too. 😉
          One solution is to subscribe to the blog (by e-mail or RSS) and read only what interests you (that’s what I do with your blog).

          Especially, I don’t write nearly as often as I’d like to on this blog, most because I focus on my French blog (I’m pretty the only French speaking blogger who writes about the area, while you can find more content in English).

          The end of May should have great weather, rainy season here doesn’t usually start before early June.

  3. Thanks for your updates David. I’m intending to visit during the autumn session, as in 2013, this time try to spend several days visiting the western islands instead of cramming it into one insanely rushed day. Any tips you may have to make visiting/staying overnight in this area easier greatly aprreciated!
    Kate (from Australia)

    1. Hi Kate and you’re very welcome.

      I can’t really advise a specific accommodation to stay at in Western Kagawa, however, yes, it’s best to visit the Western islands over three days. Most don’t take too long to visit, but they’re far from each other and contrarily to the Eastern islands that are all accessible from Takamatsu, the Western ones are all connected to their specific port.

      I’d say seeing the four islands will require three days, following this path for example (or the opposite):
      – Day one: Ibukijima. Then, stay the night either in Mitoyo or Marugame (both nights could be spend at the same hotel or two different hotels one in each city).
      – Day two: Awashima in the morning and Takamijima in the afternoon (a special boat connects them during the Triennale only). The second night can be spent in the same hotel or in a second hotel (trains need to be taken).
      – Day three: Honjima.

      Back in 2013, I did something similar actually (except that Ibukijima was in the Summer session) over two days. We left Takamatsu in the morning to Awashima. Took the boat to Takamijima early afternoon and returned to Shikoku in the evening. We spent the night in Marugame, went to Honjima the following day, and returned to Takamatsu at the end of the day.
      The only issue was having to carry one backpack most of the time (not mentioning the baby cart as my daughter was one and half at the time). It really only was an issue on Takamijima.

      If I remember correctly, we were able to leave the bag in the building near the pier on Awashima, and we probably left it in a locker in Marugame Station the day we went to Honjima. On Takami, I had to carry it all the time.

  4. Thanks for those tips David, and I’m glad you agree the western islands warrant three days. I thought they were both beautiful and fascinating. From your reply I gather that there’s not (yet) any option of accommodation actually ON any of these islands. I wonder if that might change? Also on Shodoshima, I want to spend more than one day there. Would there be accom on Shodoshima or is it necessary to return to Takamatsu, do you think? (My travel companion for 2019 speaks pretty good Japanese, unlike me, so that’s a plus!)

    1. Kate, it’s very possible to sleep on most of the islands (maybe not Takamijima), but I don’t think that’s a very practical option if you want to go island hopping, as you’ll most likely have to return to Shikoku to go from one island to the other.

      But, yes, it’s probably possible to visit Ibukijima day one, then sleep in Tadotsu, go to Takamijima in the morning and Awashima in the afternoon, then sleep on Awashima, but then, not sure if the boat that will link Awashima to Honjima will run early in the morning for example, you may have to return to Shikoku from Awashima to reach Honjima.

      So, yes, it’s feasible to sleep on the island, but it may not be very convenient.

      Shodoshima on the other hand has plenty of accommodation. The island, while relatively unknown abroad, is a somewhat popular tourist destination in Japan and there are plenty of hotels all over the island.

  5. Hi David, a great outline of the 2019 event. My partner and I went to the 2016 Spring session, and taking your posted advice – had a day each at both Ogijima and Teshima.

    I still haven’t posted my stories and experiences of those 2 days, but when I do in the next month or two I will refer back to your site for excellent information and advice.

    Good luck with 2019!

  6. Many thanks for this further information, David. Now I get why the on-island accom idea is maybe not so smart after all — at least, for those particular western islands.

    1. You’re very welcome.

      Note that it is feasible, but it demands capacities of planning that I don’t have. 😉

      All in all it really depends on the special boat’s schedule, not sure when it’ll be published, as the Western islands are still 10 months away. (wow, I’ve just realized that the Triennale will end one year from now, give or take a few days)

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