Naoshima Island Tour 直島

Modern Japanese art in the heart of the Seto Inland Sea

There are no temples, shrines or medieval castles to visit on this island in the Japanese inland sea (Setouchi), but seven spaces dedicated to contemporary art,  bathed in sunshine. Naoshima Island is not a peaceful place like the others, strange artistic creations inhabit it and attract visitors from all over the world.

Resurrection of Naoshima: the birth of the Japanese artistic island


In Naoshima , art has not always reigned supreme. This small island (3,400 inhabitants on approximately 8km2) located between the cities of Takamatsu and Okayama , has long lived from the refining industry. At the end of the 1980s, it was deserted and deprived of future prospects. Two men decide to react: the mayor, who wishes to bring his island back to life, and Tetsuhiko Fukutake , founder of the Benesse company (specializing in education and in in correspondence courses), looking for a place where he could set up a children 's holiday camp.


The camp opened its doors in the summer of 1989, but Tetsuhiko Tetsuhiko did not choose just any architect to carry out his project: Tadao Ando , also behind 21_21 Design Sight in Tokyo, designed small white yurts whose clean lines fit perfectly into the environment of Naoshima . A first sculpture is installed on the island: The frog and the cat by Karel Appel.

Naoshima and Teshima, the islands of contemporary art
Art tour in Naoshima & Teshima
Chichu Art Museum
Benesse House
Ando Museum
Yayoi Kusama's pumpkins
"Seen/unseen, Known/unknown"
The Art House Project
Teshima Art Museum

Please note : all museums (except the Benesse house) are closed on Mondays (or Tuesdays if Monday is a public holiday). Also be aware that if you are on a tight budget, museum entrance tickets are expensive.


The project to highlight the island heritage of the Seto Inland Sea through contemporary art continues to grow: Teshima, Inujima, and other surrounding islands also host ephemeral works and renowned museums and participate in the Setouchi Triennial during which artists come to create in situ works and performances on several islands.



La grande citrouille jaune de Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama's big yellow pumpkin at the end of a pontoon

Jerome Laborde

Oeuvre de Hiroshi Sugimoto

Artwork by Hiroshi Sugimoto, photo of a horizon line on the cliff.

Jerome Laborde

L'invisible Chichû

The Chichû is buried and does not distort the landscape of Naoshima

Address, timetable & access

  • Address

  • Timetable

    The island is accessible by ferry from Shikoku and the city of Takamatsu, from Honshu and the city of Uno, from the nearby island of Shodoshima, which is also worth visiting for its olive groves, or even from Kobe.
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