If you only visit one island...
Perhaps the most famous of the 12 islands, Naoshima started being referred to as an ‘art island’ in the early ’90s, after notable artists were commissioned to produce large-scale works to revitalise the island and form Benesse Art Site Naoshima. Here are our top recommendations:
While the project is comprised of seven distinctive Edo-period dwellings restored into artworks, you must make seeing 'Haisha' and 'Ishibashi' a priority. 'The Garden of Ku' in Ishibashi incorporates 14 traditional sliding paper panels (fusuma) with brilliant transformative qualities.
When gallery hours draw to a close, there’s nothing more appealing than a late-night sento. Just don’t expect to bathe under dim light, as even the bathhouse doubles as a gallery – featuring embellished faucet knobs and scrapbook-style photos.
Sculptures are inconspicuously dotted all over the island – some are harder to spot than others, creating a kind of natural treasure hunt in a memorable setting.
The granddaddy of Naoshima invites guests to let the 'unique atmosphere' seep into their skin by sleeping at one of their four boutique lodgings. Alternatively, work up an appetite by perusing the largest collection of paintings, sculptures and photography before heading to the on-site restaurant and café.
The expansive concrete structures look alien, peeping out from a luscious green hill. Yet Tadao Ando’s minimalist architecture, which is famous for artfully utilising the best elements of nature, still manages to achieve harmony. Visitors can appreciate the works of Claude Monet, Walter De Maria and James Turrell.