One of the best things about my job in Japan is that I get to travel around and see different parts of the country on school trips – and get paid for the privilege! On Friday morning, a group of twenty two of us headed south on the Shinkansen on the annual Art residential, staying on the beautiful island of Naoshima and taking in day trips to nearby islands Teshima and Inujima. This was the second school outing for me inside three weeks, having previously visited the typhoon soaked mountains of Hakuba. Here are some snaps from the trip:
Our private water taxi awaited us after a long Shinkansen trip to Okayama, followed by two local connecting trains. No kids allowed outside – only the big kids (i.e. the teachers!)
And we were off. The weather was sublime for near enough the duration.
We reached our accommodation at Tsutsujiso on Naoshima island. We were staying in these Mongolian tents – yurts. They housed four people, but staff got one to themselves. Boneless banquet!
Inside my yurt. It was extremely comfortable and clean. I had a secret pot noodle in there the first night as dinner wasn’t the best. Thankfully, I’d come prepared.
10 metres from my yurt – a beautiful beach, inhabited by no one. So, so peaceful.
This is art. A funky cat on a funky frog (I think). Is there a deep and meaningful message behind this?
Naoshima art house project. This is one of the sites (there are five on the island). The project takes empty houses scattered about residential areas, and turns the spaces into works of art.
Inside there was a Statue of Liberty. Hmm.
It’d been a long first day, having awoken at 4am for the early train and finally hitting the sack around 10.30pm. I woke up around 6.30am the following morning, hitting the showers before anyone else. This was the view from my yurt door – check the big dodo on the right.
We took our water taxi on a short hop to neighbouring island Teshima.
We visited a couple of cool exhibits here. The Teshima Art Museum was interesting and very relaxing. It consists of a huge concrete shell, devoid of pillars, covering a space 40 by 60 metres. Two oval openings in the ceiling allow the air, sounds, and light of the world outside into the space. Water flowed randomly along the ground. It was quite special lying on the floor in peace for an hour or so.
There were cats everywhere on the islands.
In the afternoon we took the kids down to the beach – again, deserted and unspoiled. The kids made their own art pieces, and I’ve got to say they were very impressive.
Day three now. We stayed on Naoshima this day, taking in galleries exhibiting mainly modern art. We also saw Monet’s, an Andy Warhol original, and works by Walter De Maria and James Turrell. You cannot take photos in the museums so I took plenty of the beautiful views instead.
This is modern art at its worst at the Lee Ufan museum. If someone can tell me the point of these three pieces, please do.
The famous Naoshima pumpkin by the sea.
We visited an onsen where I found this cat taking a very keen interest in the fish below.
The final day and we went to Japan’s equivalent of an arty Craggy Island, Inujima. Inujima has a population of roughly 70. Attractions include this industrial modern art museum (surprisingly good), a cafe and “the field”.
Our last night on Naoshima. I didn’t want it to come to an end. It was a superb trip, and this beautiful sunset really capped it off.
No camera trickery required. The sky really was this red.
Time to pack up and leave for home. Naoshima – definitely worth a visit. If you love art, you’ll love it here. If, like me, you’re skeptical, then go for the scenery and the tranquility. Here’s to next year’s trip…