Finding the Art Island

A small island’s fame as a destination for art tourists is growing by the day, but the big picture is more complicated.

From the moment the ferry to Naoshima leaves Uno port, the sea-rooted mountainscape unfolds around you. It’s here in the Seto Inland Sea where you can most readily appreciate how Japan is one big mountain range sitting on the ocean floor, with bits here and there poking up above the waves. Even on clear days, the atmosphere sets the distance between you and the surrounding peaks, with close-by islands sharp and vivid, while those further away are delicately blued by successive washes of haze.

Entering Chichu Art Museum. (With the author’s son, “for scale.”)
Chichu Art Museum. Photo courtesy of Benesse Art Site Naoshima.
A large grasshopper on Naoshima.
Yayoi Kusama’s red pumpkin in Miyanoura on Naoshima.
Part of the factory campus on the north side of Naoshima.
The obon dance at the 2018 Naoshima Summer Festival.
A ferry docked at Miyanoura Port on Naoshima.

A. D. McCormick is the director of the Art Island Center on Naoshima.

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