Japan / learning

Naoshima: Art Island

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Me and the Great Pumpkin of Naoshima

The shinkansen, a bus, a ferry, and bikes are how we got to Naoshima, the island of art. It was cloudy and lightly raining the entire weekend, but considering how many hills we trudged up, the cool weather was nice. The minuscule island is easily accesible by bike, and even though the map makes the land look as big as Hiroshima, we were able to bike everywhere in just a few minutes. As we biked through the gorgeous trees and along the seaside, we passed art museums and bits of artistic creativity everywhere. Some of my favorite artworks were the ones we found along the way.

The rustic red box on the brown wall.

The turquoise bike against the aging bricks.

The perfectly sculpted trees and flower gardens.

The museums were amazing too. The first day we were there I visited all of the Art House Projects (old houses renovated to become art installations.) One of them really stuck out from the others…

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Tiana entering the hidden part of the shrine

1. Go’o Shrine. Leaving the bike behind in an alleyway and hiking up a set of stone stairs sounds like an adventure on its own, but once I reached the top I was impressed. I always find shrines beautiful and fascinating, and as we reached the top of the hill it appeared to be just another intricate shrine. However, walking to the front I realized it was much more. A set of glass stairs rised up from the ground and into the shrine. The way the glass reflected the gray sky made the stairs to appear icy and mystical.

After staring in awe for a few moments at the shrine, we walked along the trees and came across a thin tunnel, leading us underneath the shrine. The stairs not only rised up to the shrine, they grew into the ground and reflected in a pool of water with only a sliver of cloudy light sliding into the foggy tunnel.

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Day two of our Naoshima trip I visited Chichu (an art museum composed of only three artists work: Monet, Walter de Maria, and James Turrel. The entire museum was specifically designed for all of these artworks, and the structure of each room down to the tiles on the floor matching the vibe our the piece. I drew the above sketch of the Claude Monet display on the shinkansen back to Hiroshima…

I pulled off my boots and pulled on a pair of white slippers before I stepped on the tiny, cloudy-white tiles on the floor. Following a darkened and warm hallway, I felt as if I was walking through a cloud, and suddenly I had reached a bit of sun. Natural light lit the white room, but I was not blinded by this lack of color. It was misty and light. The walls were curved, so there were no sharp edges in the room besides the edges of the massive Monet paintings. I had seen prints of Monet’s water lillies before, but I had no clue they were so large and magnificent. From a few steps back I saw the scene, but closer up I saw the detail: the texture, the long strokes, the layers of color. It was absolutely gorgeous. The paintings, and the way they looked so profound in white, cloudy room.

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2 thoughts on “Naoshima: Art Island

  1. Glad you liked Naoshima. (but apparently you didn’t visit the neighboring islands, that makes me sad 🙂 )
    One small correctly, it’s Go’o not “Go’on”

    • Thanks for the correction! 🙂 And unfortunately I did not have time to visit the other islands :/ But Naoshima is gorgeous, so I am glad I took the chance to explore it!

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