One of the best things about working with luxury travel agents is that you have the opportunity to visit rare holiday destinations that few others ever hear about. Naoshima is one of those destinations, an island unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s a unique and unforgettable holiday location, a favorite for art lovers and those who want a true cultural experience.
Out of the nearly 3000 islands off the coast of Japan, Naoshima presents an atmosphere impossible to find anywhere else in the world. In the 90’s, it was transformed from a sleepy little island into a one-of-a-kind artistic destination. An art loving businessman, Soichiro Fukutake, purchased the south side of the island in 1987. Fukutake ired the architect Tadao Ando as creative director, tasked with planning and designing buildings that follow the natural forms and landscapes. You’ll find structures that open into the sky or blend into the earth, underground mazes of stone with multiple chambers, a crypt lined with copper bars and featuring a massive stone sphere at the center, and that’s just the beginning. Everywhere you look, you’ll be treated to a symphony of space, color, and form.
Fukutake went on to fill these structures with an extensive and eclectic collection of art, from classic paintings to original pieces created just for the island. Each building and room was created to maximize the impact of the art. Fukutake essentially turned the south side of the island into the largest gallery anywhere on the planet. Plus, you won’t be packed shoulder to shoulder with other tourists. Both accommodations and tour numbers are limited, ensuring that you’ll be able to take in the sights without distraction. Japan’s Art Island is a bucket list destination for the true world traveller or art lover.
One of the best things about Naoshima is that it has something for everyone. Kids can enjoy a period theme park where they can watch live ninja and samurai displays, take on the challenges of the Ninja Fortress, or make their way through the Iga Trick maze. If you’re in for a more relaxed and adult experience, you may want to check out the I <3 U, spa and authentic Japanese bathhouse. Here, you can soak the stress away surrounded by traditional Japanese art and culture. It’s a spa experience unlike any other in the world.
One attraction you won’t want to miss is the Chichu Art Museum. This is one of Ando’s masterpieces, a structure largely underground, yet treated with natural light. The light changes throughout the day, so you can visit the same room in the morning and afternoon and experience the same art in a totally different way. The collection at Chichu is small, but carefully selected, featuring pieces from Walter De Maria, James, Turrell, Claude Monet, and others. Plus, if you’re on the island for a Friday and Saturday night, you can take in a special sunset viewing of Turrell’s phenomenal piece “Open Sky”.
Even the accommodations are remarkable. Though there are a few inns that have cropped up over the last decade, luxury travel companies in the know will tell you that the centerpiece of the island is Benesse House. This is a combination hotel and museum featuring pieces from David Hockney, Richard Long, Shinro Ohtake, Gerhard Richter, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and others. Benesse features four different lodgings – Beach, Park, Oval, and Museum each with unique attractions. You could spend a few days visiting Benesse and still have more to see. Plus, in addition to the five-star amenities, you’ll have access to a monorail and shuttle system that gets you anywhere you want to go on the island.
The artistic attractions are so extensive that they spill out onto the neighboring islands. Inujima and Teshima each feature museums, art galleries, and unique architecture of their own, and each can be reached easily with inter-island ferries. Teshima is only thirty minutes off, and it houses the Teshima Art Museum. Inujima is the site of an Art House Project, as well as the Seaside Inujima Gallery and the Seirensho Art Museum.
If you’re planning your next vacation or you want to know more about Naoshima, feel free to contact us. At Rose Bay Travel, we’re dedicated to bringing the most spectacular places on earth within your reach.