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Japan

Modern art in the Seto Inland Sea

Even if you are not an expert in modern or contemporary art, the diversity of the pieces presented at the Triennale means you are bound to be able to find something that suits your tastes, Additionally, these little islands present quite an idyllic setting.

Naoshima: the most famous, and island of the pumpkin

Naoshima is the best known of the islands that host the Setouchi Triennale (also known as the Setouchi International Art Festival). The island's Benesse House Art Museum is very famous, and Yayoi Kusama's impressive black-spotted orange pumpkin, also to be found on the island, is an icon of Japanese contemporary art. With the artworks and museums scattered more or less across the whole island, hiring a bicycle (an option for the bravest only: it is pretty hilly), an electric bike or a scooter is a good way to get about and explore the various art installations. 

Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama, Naoshima

The rest of the island museums

Teshima used to be famous for the toxic waste deposited illegally there. Thanks to the Triennale, however, it is now a rural island containing a number of impressive works of art. The museum on Teshima designed by the architect Ryue Nishizawa is something of an open-air artwork. On the highest point on the island, amid rice fields, an enormous hollowed out water drop has been constructed in white concrete. And a little further away lies "Les Archives du Cœur" ("The Heart Archive"), a collection of installations where you can record the beat of your own heart or listen to those of other people.

This island of Inujima was once famous for its copper and granite production. The ruins of its refinery are now used to house the Seriensho Art Museum, which the Benesse House Museum also manages. 

Shōdo Island is the largest island in Japan's Inland Sea. Plan to use the buses or hire a car to travel around it. There are still open-air installations left over from previous years' festivals to be seen on the island, e.g. the wild boar wall located at the exit from the village of Hitoyama. The artist Masato Saito has integrated little statues depicting superheroes into the wall.

The little island of Megijima can be traversed on foot. It is famous for its beaches and artworks, e.g. "Seagull Parking Lot" by Takahiro Kimura.

"Memory Bottle", an art installation by Mayumi Kuri on the island of Ogijima, is made from objects and bottles found on the island or collected from villagers. Once collected together, the artist added lights to their interiors and created a work of art out of them.

There are of course a number of art installations to be found on the other islands of the Inland Sea. Further information is available here.

Marielle Awad
62 contributions
Updated 22 April 2016

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