Japan is basically a country comprising of islands of various sizes and cultures. Most people have only heard of the four main landmasses: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. But what about the other, smaller islands?

Today’s feature will be on Naoshima (直島), located within the Shikoku region.

Shikoku region | Image source
Shikoku region

Located in the Seto Inland Sea and 13km north of Takamatsu, Naoshima is also known as “Ando Island”, as a large proportion of the art installations were designed by world-renowed architect Ando Tadao and commissioned by Benesse Holdings, Inc. Nearby islands of Inujima and Teshima have also been transformed into “art islands” by the same company.

Take a walk inside the Benesse House Oval. (Photo by hsili via Flickr)

There are several museums under Benesse Art Site Naoshima, such as Ando Museum and Naoshima Bath “I♥湯”. The former features the life and works of Ando Tadao while the latter is an interesting mix of art and bathhouse designed by Otake Shinro. It’s name is a word-play on I Love You, as the Japanese word for “bath” is pronounced as “yu”. To spice things up, hidden at the bottom of the baths are many Edo period erotic prints.

Colourful and quirky exterior of Naoshima Bath “I♥湯”. (Photo by Trout Monroe via Flickr)

Others include Chichu Art Museum, Lee Ufan Museum, Art House Project, Benesse House Museum and Miyanoura Gallery 6.

Bruce Nauman’s installation “100 Live and Die”, located inside the Benesse House Museum. (Photo by beatplusmelody via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC)

A 200-year-old house infused with modern LED light display, the Kadoya House from Art House project is a blend of the past and future.

Flickering lights over a pool of water in the Kadoya House. (Photo by Arnout Fonck via Flickr)

Interestingly, the residents of Naoshima were so enamored by James Bond that they dedicated the 007 Museum to the man himself, featuring memorabilia from “The Man with the Red Tattoo” and other Bond novels.

Apart from museums, there are also countless Instagram-worthy open-air art installations around the island.

Kusama Yayoi’s iconic yellow pumpkin. (Photo by nschouterden via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC)

Held once every three years around the 12 islands of the Seto Inland Sea and two ports, the Setouchi Triennale aims to promote and develop these islands through a wide range of activities as part of Art Setouchi. Be sure to include it in your itinerary!

George Rickey’s “Three Squares Vertical Diagonal”. (Photo by beatplusmelody via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC)

Want to know more?

That’s all for Naoshima, folks!

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