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Art exploring: A day trip in Teshima & Naoshima

Art exploring: A day trip in Teshima & Naoshima

Have you ever visited the art islands of the Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海 Seto Naikai)? The Setouchi Triennale, a contemporary art festival held every three years at these art islands, is visited by many tourists from home and abroad and has since increased the islands’ popularity. Surrounded by the calm waters of the Seto Inland Sea, this collective of art islands is where you can enjoy a unique space created by the fusion of nature and art.


However, with so many islands to visit, first-timers would wonder where to begin their island-hopping journey. In fact, the number of ferries to these islands is limited, making it  difficult to visit many in a short period of time. Also, some visitors might be interested in art exploring but can’t stay for a long time since their itineraries may be packed with other spots to visit. If you’re one of those people, today, I would like to introduce a 1-day plan for you to enjoy art exploring in the islands of Teshima and Naoshima. 


8am: Udon for breakfast at Kawaramachi

Hot kamaage udon entwined with butter and raw egg are truly exquisite! (Image credit: Chieri)


Since Kagawa Prefecture (香川県 Kagawa-ken) is often called the “Udon Prefecture”, why don’t we start the day fuelled by this local staple meal? Udon Baka Ichidai (うどんバカ一代) is one of the most famous places known amongst locals and tourists to get their udon fix. It is 7 minutes away by foot from Kawaramachi Station (瓦町駅) by Takamatsu-Kotohira Dentetsu (琴電, Kotoden). 


You will have a variety of udon to choose from here, but this place is most famous for its Kama Butter Udon (釜バターうどん), which is hot kamaage (釜揚げ) udon topped with butter, a raw egg, and black pepper. There is an inviting aroma of butter from the moment you receive the udon. What’s more,this shop’s udon noodles have a chewy texture and are served within 10 minutes out of the pot, which means you will always taste the freshest udon noodles. Hot noodles entwined with butter and raw egg are truly exquisite!


Udon Baka Ichidai (うどんバカ一代)
Address: 1-6-7 Taga-cho, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa 760-0063
Nearest station: Kawaramachi Station (瓦町駅)
Opening hours: 6am–6pm
Tel: +81-87-862-4705


9:30am: Get on the ferry at Takamatsu Port

Public Art at Takamatsu Port. (Image credit: Chieri)


It is now time for exploring art spots on the islands of the Seto Inland Sea. The first place we are heading to is Teshima (豊島), which is 35 minutes away from Takamatsu (高松) by ferry. You’ll need to buy a ticket for the ferry from Takamatsu Port (高松港) to Ieura Port (家浦港), which costs ¥1,350 for a one-way trip. You can find the ferry’s timetable and fares here.


10:30am: Art exploring at Teshima Art Museum

(Image credit: Chieri)


Once you get to Ieura Port, I will definitely recommend you to rent an electric bicycle from the port to get to your next stop: Teshima Art Museum (豊島美術館). This is because the exhilaration of cycling while feeling the wind, enjoying the scenery such as the calm sea and trees, and being on the road with little traffic around you are all part of the Teshima experience. It takes around 20 minutes to the museum, and you’ll have to ascend a small hill which might be a tough feat on the electric bicycle. However, that hardship is soon forgotten the moment you get to the top of the hill and the Seto Inland Sea spread wide across in front of your very eyes. 


A glimpse of the Teshima Art Museum. (Image credit: Chieri)


That is also the place where the art museum is located. It is shaped like a drop of water and the only artwork showcased there is “Izumi” by Rei Naito. From the two openings on the ceiling, the surrounding wind, the sounds such as chirp and gentle waves of the Seto Inland Sea, and the light come in, creates a unique atmosphere where nature and art are fused.


12pm: Lunch break at Teshima Art Museum

Yummy carrot cake with coffee (Image credit: Chieri)


After enjoying a leisurely appreciation at the museum, why not relax at the photogenic café right next to it? Natural light shines in just like at the museum, and you can enjoy light meals and drinks made with Teshima ingredients. There is also a souvenir shop next door where you can find handmade items that can only be bought here. I heard that the souvenir clerk liked the Teshima Art Museum so much that she decided to move here from another prefecture. Similar to  her experience, I guarantee that Teshima will be a place you will never forget.


Teshima Art Museum (豊島美術館)
Address: 607 Teshimakarato, Tonosho-cho, Shozu-gun, Kagawa 761-4662 
Nearest station: Ieura Port (家浦港) or Karato Port (唐櫃港)
Opening hours: 10am–5pm (1 March–31 October, last admission 4:30pm), 10am–4pm (1 November–last day of February, last admission 3:30pm)
Tel: +81-879-68-3555


1:40pm: Get on the ferry at Ieura Port

“Welcome to Naoshima” (Image credit: Chieri)


After enjoying the museum, return to Ieura Port by electric bicycle and head to Naoshima (直島). It takes about 20 minutes by high-speed passenger ship from Ieura Port to Miyanoura Port (宮浦港) in Naoshima and it will cost you around ¥650 one-way.


2pm: Public Art exploring at Naoshima

Top photo: Red Pumpkin of Kusama Yayoi, and bottom photo: Naoshima salt cider (Image credit: Chieri)


On Naoshima, Kusama Yayoi’s red pumpkin welcomes us. In addition, there are various public arts that you can fully enjoy just around the port.


3pm: Art exploring at Chichu Art Museum

Chichu Art Museum. (Image credit: Chieri)


Just like Teshima, you can cycle to get to Chichu Art Museum (地中美術館). Since there is a little traffic, you can cycle safely and feel the pleasant breeze that you cannot experience in the city. Most of the buildings of the Chichu Art Museum are buried underground so as to not spoil the beautiful scenery of Setouchi. On the other hand, because it is designed to receive natural light, it is built such that the appearances of the works change according to the time and weather. This means, for example, if you visit the museum in the morning and evening, the expression of Claude Monet’s work will change. In short, it is designed to have an infinite look for every time you visit.


5pm: Cafe break at Chichu Art Museum

This was one of the best bagels I’ve ever had! (Image credit: Chieri)


After enjoying some art at the museum, let's go to the cafe. In an open space where you can overlook the beautiful scenery of the Seto Inland Sea, your mind and body will be reset. You can eat meals here but what I ordered was Vanilla Ice Cream with Bagel. The plate uses wasara (ワサラ), which is a "paper bowl", made this dessert look beautiful and delicious. The atmosphere of the cafe will make you feel comfortable and relaxed until the last minute of closing.


Chichu Art Museum (地中美術館)
Address: 3449-1 Naoshima, Kagawa 761-3110 
Nearest station: Miyaura Port (宮浦港)
Opening hours: 10am–6pm (1 March–30 September, last admission 5pm), 10am–5pm (1 October–last day of February, last admission 4pm)
Tel: +81-87-892-3755


6:30pm: Art exploring at I❤湯

The perfect place to chill! (Image credit: "I♥湯" by theCarol is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)


Unfortunately, many of the facilities, including most cafes and restaurants around the island close around 6pm. However, the only ferry left by this time is the 8pm ferry, which is also the last one, and you have to wait for it nonetheless!


Thus, the best way to spend the remaining time is to visit a place that is still open, which is "I湯”. It is an art facility designed by Shinro Ohtake where you can actually take a bath. Unlike ordinary public baths in Japan, the floors, walls, and ceilings are all art! Wouldn’t it be a refreshing experience to be able to enjoy art while taking a bath? 


I❤Yu (I)
Address: 2252-2 Noshima, Kagawa 761-3110 
Nearest station: Miyaura Port (宮浦港)
Opening hours: 1pm9pm (Closed on Mondays except when Monday is a PH)Tel: +81-87-892-2626 (Naoshima Town Association 8:30am6pm)


8pm: Public art exploring at night

A beautiful silhouette (Image credit: Chieri)


The public art around the harbour also has different expressions in the morning and at night, and you can enjoy it differently. When a person stands in front of it, you can create a  beautiful silhouette because it gets dark—it’s fun to devise creative ways to take pictures while waiting for the ferry!


8:30pm: Get on the ferry at Miyaura Port

It is finally time to return to Takamatsu from Naoshima. This ferry is going to be the last one so please be careful not to be late, otherwise you will be left stranded on the island!


9pm: Dinner for Udon (Kawaramachi)

(Image credit: Chieri)


Art exploring is a lot of fun but you don’t want to miss “Udon exploring” as well as when you’re in Kagawa. The good thing about Udon is that you can eat as many times as you like in a day, without feeling too stuffed! Kashiwa Ten Bukkake (かしわ天ぶっかけ), which is the chicken tempura on udon is one of the most famous menu here. The crispy fried batter is thin and delicious—I’ll absolutely recommend it.


Enya (えん家)
Address: 3-1 Katahara-machi, Takamatsu-shi, Kagawa 760-0040
Nearest station: Kataharamachi Station (片原町駅)
Opening hours: 11am–12am
Tel: +81-87-813-2324


I hope I have piqued your interest in art exploring around the beautiful islands of Naoshima and Teshima! Both islands of Teshima and Naoshima are unique spaces that cannot be experienced anywhere else. There is no doubt that you will want to go back for more once you’ve visited them! I hope you would make your own memories on the island of art.


Header image credit: Chieri


Writer’s profile: I am Chieri, a travel communicator intern from Rikkyo University in Tokyo. I was born and raised in Yokohama, Kanagawa prefecture. Travelling across Japan with taking film pictures are my favorite things to do and would be happy to share my personal recommendation and experiences in Japan.


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