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CURATED ATLAS FOR CONTEMPORARY DESIGN AND ARCHITECTURE
(Naoshima and Teshima, Japan)(Travel)(Travel)2023-07-04

Guide to Naoshima and Teshima

A once sleepy, seaside post-industrial wasteland, Naoshima and Teshima islands in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan were transformed in the early nineties. They have now become one of the world's most unique immersive contemporary art destinations featuring the work of legends Tadao Ando, Ufan Lee, Claude Monet and Yayoi Kusama, and more.

A once sleepy, seaside post-industrial wasteland, Naoshima and Teshima islands in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan were transformed in the early nineties into the contemporary art 'Mecca' that it is today. Naoshima and Inujima were left barren from a booming but destructive copper smelting industry, while Teshima was buried under nearly a million tonnes of illegally dumped toxic waste. While looking back on everything I had experienced whilst on several past trips to Naoshima and Teshima, I found myself drifting away into a fantasy of creating a similar project here in France. How did Naoshima and Teshima become the art islands that we know today?

An excerpt from the Benesse website reads:
A meeting was held in 1985 between Tetsuhiko Fukutake, the President and Founder of Fukutake Publishing (now Benesse Corporation), and Chikatsugu Miyake, the mayor of Naoshima at the time. Fukutake wished to create a place on the islands of the Seto Inland Sea where children from around the world could gather. Miyake dreamed of developing the southern side of Naoshima as a pristine, educational and cultural area. The meeting of these influential figures resulted in a mutual agreement to initiate a series of developments around Naoshima.

In 1989, The development of the Naoshima International Camp was started under the supervision of Tadao Ando. It was designed as an area where people can experience the natural surroundings of the Setouchi region by staying in yurts dismantled and brought over from Mongolia. Karel Appel's outdoor sculpture Frog and Cat, which was displayed in the campsite at the time, was the first contemporary artwork from Naoshima to become a permanent installation.

Fukutake approached renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando to help him realise his vision of transforming the neglected and economically stifled islands into a cultural haven where visitors could come, and experience works by some of the world’s greatest artists. A sceptical Ando initially turned down the offer but was eventually convinced, and the architect went on to design dozens of buildings across Naoshima, the most popular of the three islands.

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Chichu Art Museum

Despite being primarily subterranean, the Chichu Art Museum designed by Tadao Ando and featuring works of James Turrell and Claude Monet, lets in an abundance of natural light that changes the appearance of the artworks and the ambience of the space itself with the passage of time throughout the day and all along the year's four seasons.

Naoshima Island – Yayoi Kusama Yellow Pumpkin

On an old pier on Naoshima Island, Japan, Yayoi Kusama's largest Pumpkin sculpture was designed with the knowledge that it would be the first to be displayed outside.

Naoshima Island – Lee Ufan Museum

A Museum resulting from the collaboration between internationally acclaimed Korean Artist Lee Ufan and Japanese Architect Tadao Ando.

Naoshima Art House Project – Benessee Art Site

At the Art House Project on Naoshima Island, artists take empty houses scattered about residential areas and turn the spaces themselves into works of art, weaving in history and memories of the period when the buildings were lived in and used.

Teshima Art Museum

Uniting the creative visions of artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa, Teshima Art Museum stands on a hill on the island of Teshima overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. The museum, which resembles a water droplet at the moment of landing, is located in the corner of a rice terrace that was restored in collaboration with local residents.

The Naoshima Plan "The Water"

The structure was interpreted by the architect Hiroshi Sambuichi that the townscapes of Honmura, Naoshima were built to pass on "moving materials" like "wind" and "water" as if they were batons in a relay race. He manifested the characteristic of Honmura housings of adjacent rooms aligned south-north and installed the pool filled with rich well water.

Naoshima Bath "I♥︎湯"

This is an art-sento facility created by artist Shinro Ohtake. The exterior and fittings of the bathhouse, from the bath itself to the pictures decorating the walls, the mosaics, and even the toilet fittings, all reflect the artist's universe.

Ando Museum

A Tadao Ando-designed inner space, framed by unadorned concrete walls, infuses new life into this 100-year-old traditional wooden house which houses the history of both Ando's work and the island of Naoshima.

Hiroshi Sugimoto Gallery: Time Corridors

Corridor of Time reflects the characteristics of Ando's architecture that encourages visitors to walk around the architecture space in its natural environment, Hiroshi Sugimoto's continuous pursuit to solve the question of time, and his longstanding relationship with Naoshima.

Naoshima Island – Benesse House Museum Outdoor Works

An outdoor, seaside sculpture park on Naoshima Island which is part of the Benessee House Museum Collection

The Valley Garden Naoshima

The Valley Garden, with installations by Yayoi Kusama and Hiroshi Sugimoto, reflects the surrounding nature and local history, resonates with the architecture, and encourages awareness of the richness and coexistence of nature, the fundamental spirit of prayer, and regeneration.

Teshima Yokoo House

The Teshima Yokoo House, a collaboration between artist Tadanori Yokoo and architect Yuko Nagayama, was created by altering and renovating an old private house located in a hamlet in the Ieura District, facing the harbor that forms the entrance to Teshima Island.