A few decades ago, Naoshima was a sleepy fishing port spotted with antiquated buildings and a dwindling population. Now the island is filled with sculptures, art museums, and stunning architecture set amongst bountiful scenes of nature and seascapes, earning it the nickname, "art island". Finding space for the old and the new, Naoshima has become full of character. Despite the many inspiring works we saw within museum walls, these photos are the smaller moments we experienced while tracing the roads in-between.
Over time, Naoshima, as well as its neighboring islands in the Seto Inland Sea, have seen a surge of visitors and activity. This is thanks to many artists and the Benesse Corporation which installed and maintain the beautiful pieces of work on the islands. The weekend we arrived was the final days of the Setouchi Trienalle, the art festival celebrated on the islands which meant big crowds and queues for us, but we were not deterred.
Despite a very early rise, a fairly long ferry ride, and a short race off the ferry to rent bikes, we couldn’t have imagined so many stunning moments. Biking the roads around the lush island, through the small towns, finding the art embedded within repurposed buildings, and discovering the genius that is Tadao Ando’s modern architecture was nothing short of awe inspiring. Through careful design and curation, Naoshima takes many of the things we love—art, architecture, nature—and makes them coalesce in a beautiful expression so rarely found or executed with such care.