Naoshima-Benesse House Museum 直島
The rain in the night causes us no problem and we are awake early to catch the Shikoku Kisen ferry from Takamatsu to Naoshima. We arrive in good time for the 10 am sailing. It is a sunny morning, after the overnight rain, and the short boat ride to the island is very pleasant.
＊Takamatsu – Naoshima (Miyanoura) ; 990 yen / adult (return)
On arrival at Naoshima, we have a picnic lunch at the ferry port with a view of Kusama Yayoi’s red pumpkin. We then take the 100-yen bus to the Chichu Museum but, rather than enter, we walk along the road devoid of cars, past the Totoro Bus stops, to the Benesse House Museum.
Benesse House Museum.
Walking to the museum building there is another Kusama Yayoi pumpkin. This one in yellow and more obviously at the mercy of the elements. (Sadly this proved to be true. The pumpkin was destroyed in a typhoon on August 11 2021.)
The collection in this museum is a mixed bag. Some I found interesting some not so but perhaps that is true of everyone in any museum. I was struck by works by Yanagi Yukinori, David Hockney and Tom Wesselmann among others. I slowly came to appreciate the large Hockney, but sorry, Niki de Saint Phalle, your work didn’t work for me.
A glimpse in the museum café gave the impression that you were no longer in Japan at all. Perhaps 90% of the customers were western. In fact, most of the people around were not Japanese; even the Asian people were Chinese or Korean. Why are the museums on this tiny island in the Setonaikai so popular with overseas tourists?
From the museum we take a bus back to Miyanoura ferry port, but the ferry does not leave until 5pm so we have time to kill. Wandering around the port area, we find the famous sento (public bath – this is different from an onsen using mains rather than natural spring water). This sento was created from recycled material and this aspect is flaunted, giving rise to a unique structure.
Finally, we take the ferry back to Takamatsu watching the sun set over the Setonaikai. It is dark by the time we arrive, and we drive out to Genpei no Sato Mure a michi no eki on R. 11. This place has a huge car park and a clean modern toilet. What is doesn’t have is a rubbish bin. This is a problem as our rubbish is accumulating and beginning to smell. There is nowhere to throw it away.
＊Benesse House Museum ; 1300 yen / adult
The author is a long term resident of Japan who has and continues to travel the country extensively. Avoiding highways where possible, the author has driven from Kagoshima in Kyushu to Wakanai in Hokkaido covering 20,000 plus kilometres and counting.