Overlooking Benesse House in Naoshima and Seto Inland Sea
Naoshima (直島) is an island in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. Although the island is much closer to the main Japanese island of Honshu, administratively it belongs to Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku.
Naoshima is famous for its contemporary art museums as well as outdoor contemporary art installations throughout the island. It has a population of approximately 3,000 people.
The original settlement on the island was at the now-diminuitive fishing port of Tsumuura on the southeastern tip of the island. The most prominent settlement on the island was Honmura which was established as a coastal castle town during the warring states period (1467-1568).
To reach Naoshima from the main Japanese island of Honshu, take a train to Okayama, transfer to a local train to Uno Station in Tamano, walk across the street to the boat terminal, and then transfer to a boat to Naoshima. Boats are also available to from cities on other islands: Takamatsu (Shikoku) and Inujima.
Naoshima has 2 passenger ports: Miyanoura Port on the west side of the island and Honmura Port on the east side of the island. Ferries cost approximately ¥300 each way. Check the schedules and fares online.
The Miyanoura Port offers 56 lockers of various sizes for luggage storage as well as free WiFi.
When to visit: a word of warning: Most museums, restaurants, cafes and attractions are CLOSED on a Monday. You can still walk around this very pleasant island on a Monday and discover the art objects outside the closed museums, but you will be hard pressed to find more than one or two places to eat or drink.
Detailed bilingual maps are available online or at the Marine Station Naoshima in the front of the Miyanoura ferry quay. The maps list guesthouses, restaurants, and major exhibits on the island.
The island is quite hilly but pleasant enough along the coasts for biking and walking, except for the road from Miyanoura to Chichu Art Museum, which is a climb.
Since the island is quite small, you can easily reach any place on foot in 30 to 60 minutes: the two villages, the ports and the museums.
- Miyanoura port to Chichu Art Museum: about 30 minutes on southwest course (anti-clockwise).
- Miyanoura port to Honmura (Art House Project): about 30 minutes.
- Honmura to Benesse House: about 30 minutes. Try the high route that passes by the dam to see a surprising art exhibit near Benesse House. Start from the west side of Honmura, the first left after the Haisha art house.
- Benesse House to Chichu Art Museum: about 20 minutes.
Information on bicycle rental in Naoshima is available online. There are 6 shops on the island that offer bicycle rental. Fees are ¥300-500/day for a push bike or ¥1,000/day for an electric bicycle.
- Benesse House Free Shuttle Bus operates approximately every 30 minutes between the major sights on the southern portion of the island.
- Town Bus circumnavigates the island and costs ¥100. Press the button to indicate that you want to get off at the next stop. Check the schedule since this bus is not frequent.
Naoshima has many outdoor art exhibits
Naoshima is famous for its contemporary art museums as well as contemporary art installations placed throughout the island. Be sure to take photos of the giant red gourd near Miyanoura port and the giant yellow gourd on a pier at the southern edge of the island.
Like in most contemporary art museums, photography and touching the exhibits are prohibited.
- Chichu Art Museum (地中美術館), 直島町3449-1 (Last stop of town bus), ☎ 087-892-3755 (fax: +81 087-840-8285), . Oct—Feb 10AM—5PM, Mar—Sep 10AM—6PM. Designed by the architect Tadao Ando and entirely underground, this museum integrates art and architecture. The museum only has a few exhibits: 5 paintings by Claude Monet, a room with a giant sphere and 27 wooden sculptures designed by Walter de Maria, and 3 works by James Turrell, including one where you walk into a room with variable lighting that changes your perception. The James Turrell work is certainly best appreciated with as few people around as possible, so visit early in the day before the crowds arrive. Tickets must be purchased at the ticket center approximately 50 meters down the road. Next to the entrance is a garden modeled after the scenery that inspired Claude Monet. A special night program on Friday and Saturday is offered to view Turrell's 'Open Sky' work at sunset for additional fee of ¥500. Advance online reservations are required. ¥2,060. edit
- Benesse House Museum (ベネッセハウス), (10 minutes by town bus from port.), ☎ +81 87-892-3223 ([email protected]), . 8AM-9PM. The first contemporary art museum on the island remains one of the best. A superb fusion of nature, art and architecture that display the works of Andy Warhol, Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, and others. The Museum building, now one of 4 buildings in the complex, was designed by world famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando. There are also numerous outdoor exhibits nearby. ¥1,030. edit
- Lee Ufan Museum (（李禹煥美術館）). Oct—Feb 10AM—5PM, Mar—Sep 10AM—6PM. Also designed by Tadao Ando, this museum displays only the works of Lee Ufan 李禹煥. edit
- Ando Museum, ☎ +81 87 892 3754 ([email protected]), . 10AM-4:30PM, last admission at 4PM; Closed Mondays. A small museum featuring the works of architect Tadao Ando, designer of most of the museums on Naoshima Island. Ando was born in 1941 in Osaka. Ando has received many international awards. ¥510. edit
Old vacant village houses were converted into works of art showcasing Japanese and international artists. ¥410 for entry to a single house. ¥1,030 for a ticket good for entry to six of the art houses. Kinza has its own pricing. Free for children under 15 years old. 10:00AM—4:30PM.
- Minamidera “Backside of the Moon” by James Turrell and house, lavatory by Tadao Ando. Walk into a building in complete darkness and feel the sensation after the lights are eventually slowly turned on.
- Kadoya “Sea of Time '98”, "Naoshima’s Counter Window", "Changing Landscape" by Tatsuo Miyajima. Watch a "sea" of LED numbers counting up and down.
- Go'oh Jinja (Shrine) “Appropriate Proportion” by Hiroshi Sugimoto - please note that you can get into the shrine by taking the little path to the right, i.e. the sea side. It's quite simply incredible so don't miss it.
- Ishibashi "The Falls" by Hiroshi Senju. The former large expansive home of the Ishibashi family, a successful salt producer during the Meiji Period.
- Haisha "ZETSUJOMU" (Dream tasting on the tongue), "BOKKON peeper hole" by Shinro Ohtake. Haisha means "dentist" and this was once the house of a dentist.
- Gokaisho “Camellia” by Etsuhiro Suda. Gokaisho means "place to play go" and this was a gathering place for people to play the game of Go.
- Kinza is not included in the Art House Project combined ticket. Reservations must be made in advance online. Admission costs ¥510.
All public institution buildings on Naoshima are designed by Kazuhiro Ishii, an architect born in Tokyo 1944. These buildings are called "Naoshima architecture". Since they are public facilities, anyone can enter, tour, and use the facilities.
- Naoshima Elementary school (1970)
- Naoshima Kindergarten (elder class)(1974)
- Town gymnasium (1976) Gymnasium belongs to Naoshima Junior High school
- Naoshima Junior High School (1979)
- Naoshima Town Hall (1982) Called "Naoshima Hiunkaku" because it was designed after Honganji Temple which is famous for the Hiunkaku tower and resembles a castle.
- Naoshima Kindergarten (younger class) (1983)
- Tsutsuji-so (1991) municipal cottage
- Naoshima General Welfare Centre (1995)
Mitsubishi Materials factory
- Mitsubishi Materials Smelter and Refinery, . Mitsubishi Materials is the major employer on the island. Most of the north side of the island is taken up with material processing facilities. A tour of these facilities can be organized if reservations are made at least a week in advance. Tours must be booked in and are conducted in Japanese only. Security procedures are strict. edit
- Naoshima Bath House I ♥ Yu, ☎ +81 87-892-2626, . TUE-SUN: 1PM-9PM(last admittance: 8:30PM), Closed on Mondays. A fully functional art installation with Japanese traditional public bath. Designed by Shinro Ohtake collaborated with graf. Naming "I ♥ Yu" is a pun, word playing on you and yu means hot water in Japanese. Adult: ¥650; Child: ¥300. edit
- Gotanji Swimming Beach. July and August only. No lifeguards. edit
There are few banks with ATMs (Hyakujyushi Bank, Post Office, JA Bank) and ATMs are also available in the convenience store. The museums take credit cards but many shops do not.
Most shops close in the early evening and most of them are closed entirely on Mondays. There is only one convenience store 7-11. There are also small supermarkets called 'Co-op'.
- Head shop at Washinomatsu, north of Miyanoura Port. Open from 10am to 7:30pm daily (10am-3pm on Sunday).
Almost all venues serve Japanese food only. Restaurants may have non-standard or irregular hours, such as being open only for lunch and so it is best to just walk around and find a place that is open. Restaurants accept last orders around 7:30pm-9pm during the week and close even earlier on Sundays.
- Aisunao, (Near Ando Museum), ☎ +81 87-892-3830, . Literally "Brown Rice Hearty Eatery". Vegetarian restaurant. edit
- Konichiwa Cafe (Hello Cafe), Yubinbango 761-3110 (Near Honmura Port), . Mains: ¥700; Coffee or beer: ¥500. edit
- Naka-Oku, (Near Ando Museum), ☎ +81 87-892-3887, . 11:30AM-9:00PM; Tuesday hours are irregular. Mains: ¥400-700; Coffee, tea, or soda: ¥400. edit
- Shima-shokudo Miyanda, 2268-2, . 11:30AM-2:00PM & 5:00PM-8:00PM; Closed Mondays. Fish lunch. Beer: ¥400-500. edit
- Tsutsuji-so Café, . Open only for lunch. The closest cafe to the sea on the island. Mains: ¥700. edit
- Iwata's confectionery shop, (Turn left after you pass the Pachinko parlor - it's the rather non-descript place.). Japanese style sweets & cakes, traditional food gifts. edit
- Henkotsu-en (へんこつえん), Miyanoura (Behind the former Pachinko parlor). 6pm~9pm, closed on Wednesday. Currently reservation is required in advance. Mix with the locals in this yakiniku house, where the order of the day is slabs of raw meat. Just slap them on the hot plate and chat away with friends. It's Japanese style indoor barbeque at its most native.
Don't be confused with Seafood & Yakiniku Restaurant Henkotsu-en edit
- Café Ougiya, (Inside the port). 10am-7pm (6pm in winter). Japanese food railway-style, one of tenants in the ferry terminal. Standard udon, curry & rice etc. Bicycle rental is available. edit
- Fukushi center, (Inside Naoshima General Welfare Centre, which is on the way to Honmura.). [JUL-SEP] 10AM-5PM / [OCT-JUN] 10AM-2PM on Tu, 10AM-5PM on W-Su, closed on Monday. Table d'hote (set meal), has udon etc. There's a public pool and fitness center in this complex as well. edit
- Takoyaki Fuuchan. 10AM-7PM, closed irregulary. A stall and 2 tables that serves takoyaki, fried chicken, and chow mein. edit
- Café Saya, (After the pachinko parlor, turn left then immediately turn right. The café is halfway up the hill.). 12am-4pm, closed Monday. This charming place is attached to the rear of a house. Café Saya serves excellent green tea lattes and sweets. They also serve tsukune-don (a ground-chicken patty on top of rice), Saya men (beef on top of noodles), etc. edit
- Little Plum, . 3pm-10pm (on Tuesday 5pm-10pm), closed on Monday and irregularly. Cafe and bar with a good local beer selection. Bicycle rental and accommodation are available. Pizza: ¥800-900; Beer: ¥500-600. edit
- Kinosaki Udon Naoshima (木の崎うどん 直島店), 2071-4, Miyanoura (Halfway from Miyanoura Port to the south along the sea. Look for the LED signboard), ☎ +81 80-8636-7903. 10AM-5PM, closed on Thursday. Self service udon noodle restaurant. edit
- Guesthouse & Okonomiyaki Umikko, 4777-8 (In the southeastern part of the island), ☎ +81 878922358, . 11:00am-9:30pm. Okonomiyaki restaurant. edit
- Cafe Ippo, (Near Ando Museum), . 8AM-4PM. Breakfast: ¥600; Lunch: ¥1,000. edit
- CAT CAFE Nyaoshima [café]/ 11:30AM-9PM / closed on Thursday /
- Mino [rice ball take-out] packed 3 rice balls, curry & rice, ice-cream cone / 10AM-4PM
- Ishii Shoten [eating house] udon, tempura / 11AM-4PM / closed on Thursdays / capacity 20
- Wa Cafe Goo [café]/ 11AM-4PM / open on Saturdays,Sundays / capacity 20
- Cafe reastaurant "GARDEN" [café]/ 11:30AM-evening / closed on Mondays /
- Maimai [café]/ 9:30am-5:00pm / closed on Mondays / Naoshima burger, Locomoco etc.
- Chagayu-tei "Nanatsu Shima" [cafe] main menu is tea rice porrige
- Raumen Shokudoh Tsumu [Ramen Restaurant] Morning special, Ramen noodle, Karaage
- Naoshima Tsuri Koen (Naoshima Fishing Garden) sashimi of sea bream and a bowl of rice, curry and rice served on weekend, National holidays during May to September / closed on Tuesday
- New Olympia (にゅーおりんぴあ [sic]), 2310-30 Miyanoura (On the road to Co-op, halfway after the second bend from the port), . 5PM-9PM, closed on Sunday. The best quality seafood you'll get outside of Benesse House. Try the Tempura, and don't worry about language barriers just point and smile and you'll be treated royally. The chef has a cheat sheet of English translations of his dishes behind the counter. ¥2,000-10,000. edit
- Benesse House Museum Cafe, (On the 2nd floor of the Benesse House Museum), . 10AM-5PM. Coffee: ¥550; Beer: ¥800: Pasta: ¥1,250. edit
- Etoile De La Mer @ Benesse House, (On the south side of the island), ☎ +81 87-892-2030, . Terrace restaurant of the Bennesse House. French food with a great view of the water. Breakfast buffet: ¥2,613; Dinner mains: ¥6,000-9,000. edit
- Museum Restaurant Issen @ Benesse House Museum, (On the ground floor of the Benesse House Museum), . Large windows with a view of the Inland Sea. Breakfast: ¥2,494; Lunch: ¥2,000 and up. edit
It is recommended to book accommodation in advance, especially for weekend stays; however, many places do not have online booking or English-speaking staff. There are several dormitories and ryokan-style (sleep on a tatami mat) lodges on the island. Western-style accommodation is available across the sea, near the Uno Port in Tamano.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
|| ¥2500 to ¥3500
|| ¥3500 to ¥10000
|| ¥10000 and above
- Dormitory Kowloon (ドミトリーin九龍), (In front of Miyanoura port, behind a 'snack' bar), ☎ +81 87-892-2424, . checkin: 5:30pm; checkout: 9:30am. This hostel is a former Japanese 'snack' bar. Facilities are basic. Walk-up: ¥3,500, Advance reservation: ¥2,900. edit
- Little Plum Cafe & Guesthouse, (Near the bath house), ☎ +81 87-892-3751, . checkin: 4PM-10PM; checkout: 10AM. Bunk beds with curtains. Reservations can be made online. Dormitory bed: ¥3,000. edit
- Mukaejima Guesthouse, ☎ +81 87-892-2876, . checkin: 5PM-7PM; checkout: 6AM-10AM. Reservation requests can be made online. Dormitory: ¥3,000; Private: ¥4,000, meals at additional cost. edit
- Naoshima Backpackers Guest House (直島バックパッカーズ ゲストハウス), (Near Honmura Port), ☎ +81 80-9130-2976 ([email protected]), . Dormitory: ¥2,500. edit
- Seven Beach Inn (やど～セブンビーチ), (From Miyanoura port, follow the road past the 007 museum. It's on the left after the New Olympia restaurant), ☎ +81 87-892-4567, . Affiliated with the Dormitory Kowloon. ¥3,500. Additional ¥3,000 for meals. edit
- Guesthouse & Okonomiyaki Umikko, 4777-8 (In the southeastern part of the island), ☎ +81 878922358, . A few rooms. Pickup from the ferry terminal is available. Bicycle rental is available for ¥500/day. Reservations can be made via Facebook Messenger; see the website for details. edit
- Cin.na.mon Curry Cafe & Guesthouse, ☎ +81 87-840-8133, . checkin: 5PM-9PM; checkout: 9:30AM. 3 rooms. Reservation inquiries can be made via online form. ¥4,000, including breakfast. edit
- Guest House Roji to Akari, ☎ +81 80-3058-3887 ([email protected]), . checkin: 4PM-6PM; checkout: 10AM. Women and couples only. Dormitory: ¥3,200-¥4,000; Private: ¥3,500-4,300. edit
- Oomiyake Guesthouse & Cafe, ☎ +81 87-892-2328, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 10AM. A few rooms. French speakers are especially welcomed because the owner has lived in Morocco and France. ¥12,000-20,000. edit
- Oyajino Umi (おやじの海), 774 Honmura (Get off the bus at ''Nokyo Mae''（農協前）), ☎ +81 87-892-2269 ([email protected], fax: +81 87-892-2269), . checkin: 5:00pm; checkout: 10:00am. Lodging in an old-fashioned wooden house. Room: ¥4,200; Room with breakfast: ¥4,700. edit
- Sakura-Sou Guest House, ☎ +81 80-2888-2431, . checkin: 4PM; checkout: 10AM. Tatami mats or bunk beds. Reservations can be made online. Dormitory: ¥3,000; Private: ¥8,000. edit
- Ryokan Shioya, (In an alleyway near the bathhouse and Little Plum Cafe; look for the blue flag with the red circle or ask a nearby local to point it out), ☎ +81 87 892-3050. Yukiko-san, the innkeeper, does not speak much English but has been managing the ryokan for over 50 years and prepares great fish-based home-cooked meals. Advance reservations only by phone in Japanese. ¥6,900/person, breakfast and dinner included. edit
- Tsutsuji-so Lodges, (Town bus to Tsutsuji-so, stop before Benesse House), ☎ +81 87 892-2838, . checkin: 3PM-9PM; checkout: 10AM. Beach-side Mongolian yurts, caravans, and Japanese cottages. Cash only. Yurts: ¥3,800/person; Caravans: ¥4,400/person; Cottages: ¥4,800/person; Showers incur an additional charge of ¥100/10 minutes. edit
- Benesse House (ベネッセハウス), (Courtesy bus available from Miyanoura port; check website for times), ☎ 087-892-2030 ([email protected]), . checkin: 3pm; checkout: 11am. This is *the* place to stay in Naoshima, if you have the money. Every room has its own individual design and art work, with 49 guest rooms across 4 buildings: Museum, Annex, Park and Beach, all designed by reknowned architect Tadao Ando. The beauty of staying at the House itself is that you can wander the galleries late into the night after all the riff-raff have departed. There's also a monorail up to the rooms at the Oval, which also has a spectacular bar where one can watch the sun set. Dinner at the Museum itself is also an experience not to be missed as all the good tables face out onto the bay. Don't forget to book your slot for Cai Guo-Qiang's 'Cultural Melting Bath'. It's a huge Hot Tub surrounded by Volcanic Rocks brought in from China in a private cove not far from Park Building; it can be exclusively hired for an hour (¥1,000) for relaxing, stargazing, sunbathing or love making - in a piece of art. Most rooms must be booked individually; they book up several months in advance, particularly on weekends in the Spring and Fall, but are well worth the cost. Off season booking is far easier, and also easier to extend your stay. The website has a 6 month reservation schedule and detailed room descriptions. ¥30,000-100,000. edit
There is an extensive aged population on the island. Please be considerate and greet them warmly as you pass them.
The Miyanoura Port offers 56 lockers of various sizes for luggage storage.
Some accommodation options and cafes offer WiFi, while many do not. Free internet access at 2 computers is available at the Miyanoura port terminal ("Marine Station Naoshima") from 8:30 to 18:00. Free WiFi is available at the port terminal as well.
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