I took a day trip to the island of Naoshima (直島) last weekend with the friend I was visiting. The island is in Japan’s Seto inland sea (瀬戸内海), between the largest Japanese island of Honshu and the smaller major island of Shikoku. (Japan has 4 main islands: Honshu 本州, Shikoku 四国, Kyushu 九州 and Hokkaido 北海道.) Naoshima is in between Okayama prefecture on Honshu and Kagawa prefecture on Shikoku, but it is officially part of Kagawa prefecture. Therefore, although I have never set foot on the island of Shikoku, if anyone asks, I can now tell them I’ve been there. Nice. Anyway, we went to Naoshima because it is famous for its modern art museums and public art. The most common picture of the island used for promotion and taken by tourists is of Yayoi Kusuma‘s giant pumpkin sculptures. Several of them can be found around the island. Unfortunately, in most of the museums, you cannot take pictures, so I don’t have very many pictures of the art, but I can show you the pumpkins and some views of the island. The ferry ride from the main island was a quick 15 minutes, so clearly this island is not too far away.
View from the ferry, about halfway through the ride. There are many other little islands there.
Getting around the island was fairly easy. There are three main areas where everything is located. The ferry let us off at Miyanoura (宮浦港) and the buses go between there and Tsutsujiso (つつじ荘), where the major museums are, via Honmura（本村）, where the Art House Project is. All buses cost 100 yen, or about 1 USD. We first took the bus to Honmura and went to see the Art House Project (家プロジェクト). The Art House Project took a bunch of abandoned houses and turned them into a collection of art galleries.
The first house project house we saw was actually a shrine. The Art House ticket allows you to go under the shrine and see....I'm not sure what we were supposed to see actually. There was a stone passageway and stone cavern, but I did not understand why we had paid money to go under the shrine. The Japanese guests all seemed to love it though, so maybe we missed something.
The other house I was able to take a picture of was called Haisha.
The Haisha house. It looks a lot more decorated than most of the other houses, which tend to look like typical traditional Japanese houses from the outside.
A giant Statue of Liberty 2 stories tall was inside the house.
Before heading to the next place, we stopped at a little cafe we found in the Art House Project area, run by a Yemeni guy and his Japanese wife out of a 100 year-old house.
Inside the tatami room of the Yemeni cafe.
While we sat there sipping out ginger infused honey drink (which is apparently not something they drink in Yemen, just something the owner’s wife likes), we talked with a group of Japanese women, who shared their boiled corn with us. It was a very hot day and it was nice to take a break to beat the heat.