Naoshima is a small island in Japan's Inland Sea. It's home to several good museums and has become something of a Mecca for art lovers. Lisa and I decided to splurge and spend the night at Benesse House Museum. The building was designed by architect Tado Ando.
After leaving Okayama we took two trains to the town of Uno. From there it was another 20 minute ferry ride and bus ride to Benesse House.
We were too early to check in so we wondered around the museum and then had some lunch at the cafe. They offered only two things, tuna in a pita and squid ink curry. I opted for the curry which tasted fine but looked completely disgusting.
We didn't have much time to settle in before catching the bus over to the Chichu Museum. I had made a reservation for the night viewing of James Turell's "open Sky". Before that started we had a chance to walk around the museum on our own. It is another building designed by Tado Ando and he is listed as one of the 4 artists on display.
The structure is built underground and at first I wondered where all the art was. There are in fact only 10 pieces inside. The museum was specifically designed around them and the result is spectacular. The only artist I was familiar with (other than the architect) was Monet.
I really wasn't all that excited about seeing more paintings of flowers. However, what I experienced was enough to bring tears to my eyes! After removing your shoes you are allowed to enter a large white chamber. The air is cool, the light is soft and the silence breathtaking. You are nearly alone with five masterpieces displayed with utmost respect.
Next came our chance to experience our first of Turell's pieces. Lisa and I were led in by a guide and given a long list of instructions for viewing "Open Field". On the wall was a bright blue rectangle with steps leading up to it. We were told we could go up the stairs and step inside! The blue rectangle was actually another space filled with light. It was hard to make out how far back it went or where the walls met the floor!
For the night program only 30 people are allowed in to James Turells "Open Sky" installation. It is a white room with marble benches and floor. Above the sky is framed as a work of art. We were seated at dusk and once it got dark a very slow series of color shifts began on the walls and "frame". It was amazing to see how the colors being projected effect the way you see the natural sky above.
After our experience at the Chichu museum we headed over to the Benesse House Park building for dinner. We had duck and a nice bottle of sparkling wine looking out at Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin sculpture.
We decided to work off our dinner by walking through the sculpture park and then up the hill to Benesse House Museum. Our room is actually on the third floor of the museum. We had complete access to the artwork even once it closed!
Our second day on Naoshima was a bit of a letdown. We had a nice breakfast and then took the bus to Hommura. In the center of town artists have created installations in half a dozen old buildings. Some of it was cool but it would have been tough to top our visit to the Chichu museum.
After a couple of hours at the Art House Project we headed back to the ferry and train to Okayama. We had to kill a few hours before catching the shinkansen so we went to a sushi automat. Lack of language skills don't seem like mutch of a problem when you can simply pick your food off of a conveyor belt.