Japan 3 – NAOSHIMA …March 2014

Naoshima – an art island in the Seto Inland Sea

My comments are simply to record my superficial impressions  and to trigger memories. This place is so unique, it is worth anyone interested doing more reading about it.

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Pumpkin by the brilliant avant-garde octogenarian artist, Yayoi Kusama.. In my New York blog there is an image of her in the Louis Vuitton window when she collaborated with them..

A benefactor financed it and self-taught architectural genius Tadao Ando designed the three monumental buildings that house 3 distinct art museums on this island. Much of the art is in the landscape outside the museums.

Keen to see everything

Keen to see everything

Three perfect blocks

Three perfect blocks

 

The grand museum buildings are designed to stand alone in nature surrounded by mountains and sea; each houses different collections. Benesee House Museum has an international collection, my favourite being Jonathan Borofsky’s Three Chattering Men.

The Chichu Museum has a small collection including 3 Monets which were large but not his best. I was overwhelmed by the almost religious respect the museum expected for its works, shoes off, only a few admitted at any time. The queue for the James Turrell took half an hour.

The third museum of polished concrete half underground evoked the pyramids in its solidity, scale and serenity; it was built specifically to house the work of the Korean artist Lee Ufan.

Entrance to the Lee Ufan Museum

Entrance to the Lee Ufan Museum

 

In the small fishing village nearby the art ethos is spreading with a project to transform some old wooden houses, enabling artists to turn the spaces themselves into artworks. From an over ground/underground glass staircase at a shrine to a sensory deprivation experience inside one house, the whole visit is a treat. The Ando museum is housed in the village.

The Ando museum

The Ando museum

 

The overground part of the glass staircase; a tunnel leads to the underground half.

The overground part of the glass staircase; a tunnel leads to the underground half.

At the apple counter in a Kyoto bookshop, I had told (via a translation App) the girl helping that I was off to Naoshima. When I returned for the Ipad a few hours later, I found a photocopy about the Turrell sensory deprivation installation with a note saying it was her favorite place. Such thoughtfulness!

I understand why such an installation would appeal in a population of more than 127 million people.

Could this be an early blooming cherry blossom? were we that lucky?

Could this be the one and only early blooming cherry blossom in out trip? Were we that lucky?

The rest of the family stayed in a yurt by the seashore 5 minutes away from my grand lodgings. One night in a weirdly deserted street near there we found a small restaurant run by a man and wife who cooked the best Okonomiyaki I have ever had. The real deal!

I stayed in the very grand Benesse House designed by the master himself. Consistent with the ethos of reflection and grandeur there is no TV and the wifi is elusive.

Art is scattered throughout the hotel; this chap was near the lift.

Art is scattered throughout the hotel; this chap was near the lift.

 

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The moving scissors stand outside Benesse House

This chap guards the gift shop

This chap guards the gift shop

 

What better place I thought to have a Japanese degustation.

In the Museum restaurant I sat gazing at a truly beautiful seascape in the dying light. Had I known I would have about faced as there were 4 Andy Warhol Flowers paintings on the wall behind. The meal was disappointing in contrast.

Course 1 was the standout!. Arch shell and scallion dressed in a sour miso sauce, pink shrimp with motomi miso, conger ell rolled in kelp, omlet, salmon rolled in turnip, horse bean, kumquat compote, dried mullet roe with radish and lily bulb shaped like petals.

Course 1 was the standout!. Arch shell and scallion dressed in a sour miso sauce, pink shrimp with motomi miso, conger ell rolled in kelp, omlet, salmon rolled in turnip, horse bean, kumquat compote, dried mullet roe with radish and lily bulb shaped like petals.

 

Beside the fishing village where the art transformation is happening, the old port has its charms too.

Houses at the port

Houses at the port

Social obligations to meet.

Social obligations to meet.

 

This house seemed a little out of character. Someone forgot to take the Xmas display down.

This house seemed a little out of character. Someone forgot to take the Xmas display down

The onset (public bath house) in Miyanour is  a piece of art by Shinro Ohtake who has several other art installations in the area .

The onset (public bath house) in Miyanour is a piece of art by Shinro Ohtake who has several other art installations in the area .

And here is the last art you see. what a wonderful part of the world!

Here is the last art you see as the ferry pulls out. What a wonderful part of the world!

 

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under TRAVEL

2 responses to “Japan 3 – NAOSHIMA …March 2014

  1. davidatogijima

    Glad you enjoyed Naoshima, but sad you missed the other islands. See, Naoshima is not the art island (singular) of the Seto Inland Sea, but one of the art islands (plural) of the Seto Inland Sea. 🙂

    Also, one small correction: the onsen in Miyanoura is not “inspired” by the local art, but is also a piece of art by Shinro Ohtake who has several other art installations in the area (Haisha in between Miyanoura and Honmura, the Shipyard Works in and around Benesse House, as well as Mecon on Megijima).

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