town in Kagawa district, Kagawa prefecture, Japan
Asia > East Asia > Japan > Shikoku > Kagawa > Naoshima

Naoshima (直島) is an island and town in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. Although the island is much closer to the main Japanese island of Honshu, administratively it belongs to Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku.

Understand edit

Naoshima is famous for its contemporary art museums as well as outdoor contemporary art installations throughout the island. It has a population of approximately 3,000 people.

Avoid visiting the island on Mondays, as most of the museums will be closed.

History edit

The first settlement on the island was at the now-diminutive fishing port of Tsumuura on the southeastern tip of the island. The most prominent settlement on the island was Honmura which was established as a coastal castle town during the warring states period (1467–1568). The main industry is a smelter and refinery operated by Mitsubishi Materials.

Tourist information site edit

The local tourist association has a bilingual guide site.

Get in edit

By boat edit

To reach Naoshima from the main Japanese island of Honshu, take a train to Okayama, transfer to a local train to Uno Station in Tamano, walk across the street to the boat terminal, and then transfer to a boat to Naoshima. Boats are also available from cities on other islands: Takamatsu (Shikoku) and Inujima.

Naoshima has 2 passenger ports:

  • 1 Miyanoura Port (宮浦港), 2249-40 Naoshima-cho, Kagawa-gun, Kagawa 7613110 (on the west side of the island). It's the main port and tourist entrance to the island. There's 56 lockers of various sizes for luggage storage and free Wi-Fi.  
  • 2 Honmura Port (本村港) (on the east side of the island). Only small passenger boats arrive here.   

Ferries cost approximately ¥300 each way. Check the schedules and fares online.

Get around edit

Detailed bilingual maps are available at the Marine Station Naoshima in the front of the Miyanoura ferry quay. The maps list guesthouses, restaurants, and major exhibits on the island.

By foot edit

The island is quite hilly but pleasant enough along the coasts for biking and walking, except for the road from Miyanoura to Chichu Art Museum, which is a climb.

Since the island is quite small, you can easily reach any place on foot in 30 to 60 minutes: the two villages, the ports and the museums.

  • Miyanoura port to Chichu Art Museum: about 30 minutes on southwest course (anti-clockwise).
  • Miyanoura port to Honmura (Art House Project): about 30 minutes.
  • Honmura to Benesse House: about 30 minutes. Try the high route that passes by the dam to see a surprising art exhibit near Benesse House. Start from the west side of Honmura, the first left after the Haisha art house.
  • Benesse House to Chichu Art Museum: about 20 minutes.

By bicycle edit

Information on bicycle rental in Naoshima is available online[dead link]. There are 6 shops on the island that offer bicycle rental. Fees are ¥300-500/day for a push bike or ¥1,000/day for an electric bicycle.

By bus edit

  • Town Bus circumnavigates the island and costs ¥100. Press the button to indicate that you want to get off at the next stop. Corresponds to the ferry schedule. Check the schedule since this bus is not frequent.
  • Benesse House free shuttle bus operates approximately every 30 minutes between the major sights on the southern portion of the island.
  • Benesse House Hotel's guests bus goes around the major spots from Miyanoura Port to Chichu Art Museum via Honmura and Benesse House hotels.

See edit

Naoshima has many outdoor art exhibits

Naoshima is famous for its contemporary art museums and its outdoor contemporary art installations throughout the island. Be sure to take photos of the giant red gourd near Miyanoura port and the giant yellow gourd on a pier at the southern edge of the island.

Museums edit

Like in most contemporary Japanese art museums, photography and touching the exhibits are prohibited.

  • 1 Chichu Art Museum (地中美術館), 直島町3449-1 (Last stop of Benesse shuttle bus), +81 87-892-3755, fax: +81 87-840-8285. Oct—Feb: Tu-Su 10:00—17:00, Mar—Sep: Tu-Su 10:00—18:00; closed on the day following a public holiday. Designed by the architect Tadao Ando and entirely underground, this museum integrates art and architecture. The museum only has a few exhibits: 5 paintings by Claude Monet, a room with a giant sphere and 27 wooden sculptures designed by Walter de Maria, and 3 works by James Turrell, including one where you walk into a room with variable lighting that changes your perception. The James Turrell work is certainly best appreciated with as few people around as possible, so visit early in the day before the crowds arrive. Tickets must be purchased at the ticket center approximately 50 m down the road. Next to the entrance is a garden modeled after the scenery that inspired Claude Monet. A special night program on Friday and Saturday is offered to view Turrell's 'Open Sky' work at sunset for additional fee of ¥500. Advance online reservations are required. ¥2,060.    
  • 2 Benesse House Museum (ベネッセハウス) (10 minutes by town bus from port, then transfer to Benesse shuttle bus.), +81 87-892-2030, . Daily 08:00-21:00 (last admittance: 20:00). The first contemporary art museum on the island remains one of the best. A superb fusion of nature, art and architecture that displays the works of Andy Warhol, Richard Long, Bruce Nauman, and others. The Museum building, now one of 4 buildings in the complex, was designed by world famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando. There are also numerous outdoor exhibits nearby. ¥1,030.  
  • 3 Lee Ufan Museum (李禹煥美術館) (access through Benesse shuttle bus). Oct—Feb: Tu-Su 10:00—17:00, Mar—Sep: Tu-Su 10:00—18:00; closed on the following day of a public holiday. Also designed by Tadao Ando, this museum displays only the works of Lee Ufan 李禹煥.  
  • Ando Museum, +81 87 892 3754, . Tu-Su 10:00-16:30, last admission at 16:00. A small museum featuring the works of architect Tadao Ando, designer of most of the museums on Naoshima Island. Ando was born in 1941 in Osaka. Ando has received many international awards. ¥510.

Art House Projects edit

  • Art House Project (家プロジェクト), Honmura, +81 87-892-3223. Tu-Su 10:00–16:30; closed on the following day of a public holiday. The Art House Project began in 1998 with Tatsuo Miyajima's Kadoya, and comprises 7 vacant houses, which were converted into works of art, weaving in the history and memories of the period when the houses were homes. ¥410 for entry to a single house. ¥1,030 for a ticket good for entry to six of the art houses. Kinza has its own pricing. Free for children under 15 years old.
    • 4 Minamidera (家プロジェクト 南寺 ジェームズ・タレル). “Backside of the Moon” by James Turrell. Architecture by Tadao Ando. Walk into a building in complete darkness and feel the sensation after the lights are eventually slowly turned on.
    • 5 Kadoya (家プロジェクト 角屋). “Sea of Time '98”, “Naoshima’s Counter Window”, “Changing Landscape” by Tatsuo Miyajima. Watch a "sea" of LED numbers counting up and down.
    • 6 Go'o Shrine (家プロジェクト 護王神社). “Appropriate Proportion” by Hiroshi Sugimoto. You can get into the shrine by taking the little path to the right, i.e. the seaside. It's quite simply incredible so don't miss it.
    • 7 Ishibashi (家プロジェクト「石橋」). “The Falls” and “The Garden of Kū” by Hiroshi Senju. The former large expansive home of the Ishibashi family, a successful salt producer during the Meiji Period.
    • 8 Haisha (家プロジェクト はいしゃ). “Dreaming Tongue/Bokkon-Nozoki” by Shinro Ohtake. Haisha means "dentist" and this was once the house of a dentist.
    • 9 Gokaisho (家プロジェクト 碁会所). “Gokaisho” by Yoshihiro Suda. Gokaisho means "place to play go" and this was a gathering place for people to play the game of Go
    • 10 Kinza (家プロジェクト・きんざ). Th-Su and holidays 11:00–13:00, 14:00–16:30; closed on Th F from Dec 1 to end of Feb. “Being Given” by Rei Naito. Reservations must be made in advance online. ¥510, not included in the Art House Project combined ticket.

Naoshima architecture edit

All public institution buildings on Naoshima are designed by Kazuhiro Ishii, an architect born in Tokyo 1944. These buildings are called "Naoshima architecture". Since they are public facilities, anyone can enter, tour, and use the facilities.

  • Naoshima Elementary school (1970)
  • Naoshima Kindergarten (elder class) (1974)
  • Town gymnasium (1976) Gymnasium belongs to Naoshima Junior High school
  • Naoshima Junior High School (1979)
  • Naoshima Town Hall (1982) Called "Naoshima Hiunkaku" because it was designed after Honganji Temple which is famous for the Hiunkaku tower and resembles a castle.
  • Naoshima Kindergarten (younger class) (1983)
  • Tsutsuji-so (1991) municipal cottage
  • Naoshima General Welfare Centre (1995)

Mitsubishi Materials factory edit

  • Mitsubishi Materials Smelter and Refinery. Mitsubishi Materials is the major employer on the island. Most of the north side of the island is taken up with material processing facilities. A tour of these facilities can be organized if reservations are made at least a week in advance. Tours must be booked in and are conducted in Japanese only. Security procedures are strict.

Do edit

  • 1 Naoshima Bath House I ♥ Yu (直島銭湯「I♥湯」), +81 87-892-2626. Tu-F 14:00-21:00, Sa Su 10:00-21:00, closed Mondays. A fully functional art installation with Japanese traditional public bath. Designed by Shinro Ohtake collaborated with graf. Naming "I ♥ Yu" is a pun, word playing on you and yu means hot water in Japanese. Adult ¥510; child ¥210.  
  • Gotanji Swimming Beach. July and August only. No lifeguards.
  • Naoshima Slag Ceramic Art Experience Studio, +81 87-892-2299. Tu-Su 13:00-17:00, last admittance at 14:30. Make pottery and have it shipped to you when it dries! From ¥1,500.

Buy edit

There are several banks with ATMs and ATMs are also available in the convenience stores. The museums take credit cards but many shops do not.

Most shops close in the early evening and most of them are closed entirely on Sundays and Mondays. There is a convenience store, 7–11 in Miyanoura. There are also 2 small supermarkets called 'Co-op' in Miyanoura and Honmura.

  • Head shop at Washinomatsu, north of Miyanoura Port. Open M-Sa 10:00-19:30, Su 10:00-13:00.

Eat and drink edit

Almost all venues serve Japanese food only. Restaurants may have non-standard or irregular hours, such as being open only for lunch and so it is best to just walk around and find a place that is open. Restaurants accept last orders around 19:30-21:00 during the week and close even earlier on Sundays.

Budget edit

  • Aisunao (あいすなお) (near Ando Museum), +81 87-892-3830. Literally "Brown Rice Hearty Eatery". Vegetarian restaurant.
  • Apron Cafe, +81 87-892-3048, . Cafe with a couch and colorful stools.
  • Konichiwa Cafe (Hello Cafe) (コンニチハ), 845-7 Naoshima-cho (near Honmura Port). Mains ¥700; coffee or beer ¥500.
  • Naka-Oku (中奥) (near Ando Museum), +81 87-892-3887. W-M 11:30-21:00; Tuesday hours are irregular. Mains ¥400-700; coffee, tea, or soda ¥400.
  • Shima-shokudo Miyanda (島食Do みやんだ), 2268-2 (Near Ando Museum). Tu-Su 11:30-14:00 & 17:00-20:00. Beer ¥400-500.
  • Tsutsuji-so Café (つつじ荘). Open only for lunch. The closest cafe to the sea on the island. Mains ¥700.
  • Café Ougiya (おうぎや) (inside the port). 10:00-19:00 (18:00 in winter). Japanese food railway-style, one of tenants in the ferry terminal. Standard udon, curry & rice, etc. Bicycle rental is available.
  • Nagomi (in the Fukushi Center) (なごみ(福祉センター内)) (inside Naoshima General Welfare Centre, which is on the way to Honmura). Jul-Sep: daily 10:00-17:00; Oct-Jun: Tu 10:00-14:00, W-Su 10:00-17:00. Table d'hote (set meal), has udon etc. There's a public pool and fitness center in this complex as well.
  • Café Saya (CAFE 清) (after the pachinko parlor, turn left then immediately turn right; the café is halfway up the hill). Tu-Su 10:00-18:00, may open Sa Su at 08:00. This charming place is attached to the rear of a house. Café Saya serves excellent green tea lattes and sweets. They also serve tsukune-don (a ground-chicken patty on top of rice), Saya men (beef on top of noodles), etc.
  • Kinosaki Udon Naoshima (木の崎うどん 直島店), 2071-4, Miyanoura (halfway from Miyanoura Port to the south along the sea; look for the LED signboard), +81 80-8636-7903. F-W 10:00-17:00. Self-service udon noodle restaurant.
  • Little Plum Naoshima (リトルプラム直島). W-Su 15:00-22:00, Tu 17:00-22:00, closed irregularly. Cafe and bar with a good local beer selection. Bicycle rental and accommodation are available. Pizza ¥800-900; beer ¥500-600.
  • Guesthouse & Okonomiyaki Umikko (海っ子), 4777-8 (in the southeastern part of the island), +81 878922358. 11:00-21:30P/. Okonomiyaki restaurant.
  • Cafe Ippo (カフェいっぽ) (near Ando Museum). 08:00-16:00. Can prepare vegan food. Breakfast ¥600; lunch ¥1,000.
  • Nyaoshima. F-W 11:30-21:00. Cat cafe
  • Mino. 10:00-16:00. Rice ball take-out, packed 3 rice balls, curry & rice, ice-cream cone
  • Ishii Shoten (Eating house). F-W 11:00-16:00. Udon, tempura. Capacity 20.
  • Hiina. Sa Su 11:00-16:00. Café
  • Wa Cafe Goo. Sa Su 10:00-16:00. Café. Capacity 20.
  • BOO. Tu-Su 10:00-16:00. Shaved ice for take out
  • Cafe restaurant "Garden". Tu-Su 11:30-evening.
  • Maimai. Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. Café. Naoshima burger, Locomoco etc.
  • Ishi-Bar (14Bar). M-Sa 18::00-02:00. Bar.
  • Naoshima Tsuri Koen (Naoshima Fishing Garden). W-M. Sashimi of sea bream and a bowl of rice, curry and rice served on weekend, National holidays during May to September

Mid-range edit

  • 1 New Olympia (ニューおりんぴあ), 2310-15 (Sonota) (on the road to Co-op, halfway after the second bend from the port), +81 87-892-3092. M-Sa 17:00-21:00. The best quality seafood you'll get outside of Benesse House. Try the Tempura, and don't worry about language barriers just point and smile and you'll be treated royally. The chef has a cheat sheet of English translations of his dishes behind the counter. ¥2,000-10,000.

Splurge edit

Sleep edit

It is recommended to book accommodation in advance, especially for weekend stays; however, many places do not have online booking or English-speaking staff. There are several dormitories and ryokan-style (sleep on a tatami mat) lodges on the island. Western-style accommodation is available across the sea, near the Uno Port in Tamano.

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget ¥2500 to ¥3500
Mid-range ¥3500 to ¥10000
Splurge ¥10000 and above

Budget edit

  • Naoshima Backpackers Guest House (直島バックパッカーズ ゲストハウス) (Near Honmura Port), +81 80-9130-2976, . Dormitory: ¥2,500.
  • Dormitory Kowloon (ドミトリーin九龍) (In front of Miyanoura port, behind a 'snack' bar), +81 87-892-2424. Check-in: 17:30, check-out: 09:30. This hostel is a former Japanese 'snack' bar. Facilities are basic. Walk-up: ¥3,500, Advance reservation: ¥2,900.
  • Guest House Roji to Akari (路地と灯り), +81 80-3058-3887, . Check-in: 16:00-18:00, check-out: 10:00. Women and couples only. Dormitory: ¥3,200-¥4,000; Private: ¥3,500-4,300.
  • Little Plum Cafe & Guesthouse (Near the bath house), +81 87-892-3751, . Check-in: 16:00-22:00, check-out: 10:00. Bunk beds with curtains. Reservations can be made online. Dormitory bed: ¥3,000.
  • Mukaejima Guesthouse (ドミトリーin九龍) (In front of Miyanoura port, behind a 'snack' bar), +81 87-892-2876. Check-in: 17:00-19:00, check-out: 06:00-10:00. Reservation requests can be made online. Dormitory: ¥3,000; Private: ¥4,000, meals at additional cost.
  • Seven Beach Inn (やど~セブンビーチ) (From Miyanoura port, follow the road past the 007 museum. It's on the left after the New Olympia restaurant), +81 87-892-4567. Affiliated with the Dormitory Kowloon. ¥3,500. Additional ¥3,000 for meals.
  • Tsutsuji-so Lodges (Town bus to Tsutsuji-so, stop before Benesse House), +81 87-892-2838. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. The renowned beach-side Mongolian yurts once on Benesse House's beach have been moved to Tsutsuji-so approximately 250 meters east from Benesse's east gate. ¥3,800-4,400/person; Showers cost extra.
  • Guesthouse & Okonomiyaki Umikko, 4777-8 (In the southeastern part of the island), +81 878922358. 11:00-21:30. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. A few rooms. Pickup from the ferry terminal is available. Bicycle rental is available for ¥500/day. Reservations can be made via Facebook Messenger; see the website for details.

Mid-range edit

  • Curry Cafe & Guesthouse, +81 87-840-8133. Check-in: 17:00-21:00, check-out: 09:30. 3 rooms. Reservation inquiries can be made via online form. ¥4,000, including breakfast.
  • Oomiyake Guesthouse & Cafe, +81 87-892-2328. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. A few rooms. French speakers are especially welcomed because the owner has lived in Morocco and France. ¥12,000-20,000.
  • Oyajino Umi (おやじの海), 774 Honmura (get off the bus at Nokyo Mae (農協前)), +81 87-892-2269, fax: +81 87-892-2269, . Check-in: 17:00, check-out: 10:00. Lodging in an old-fashioned wooden house. Room: ¥4,200; room with breakfast: ¥4,700.
  • Sakura-Sou Guest House, +81 80-2888-2431. Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:00. Tatami mats or bunk beds. Reservations can be made online. Dormitory: ¥3,000; Private: ¥8,000.
  • Shioya Ryokan (In an alleyway near the bathhouse and Little Plum Cafe; look for the blue flag with the red circle or ask a nearby local to point it out), +81 87 892-3050. Check-in: 15:00-21:00, check-out: 10:00. Yukiko-san, the innkeeper, does not speak much English but has been managing the ryokan for over 50 years and prepares great fish-based home-cooked meals. Advance reservations only by phone in Japanese. ¥6,900/person, breakfast and dinner included.
  • Tsutsuji-so Lodges (Town bus to Tsutsuji-so, stop before Benesse House), +81 87 892-2838. Beach-side Mongolian yurts, caravans, and Japanese cottages. Cash only. Yurts: ¥3,800/person; Caravans: ¥4,400/person; Cottages: ¥4,800/person; Showers incur an additional charge of ¥100/10 minutes.

Splurge edit

  • Benesse House (ベネッセハウス) (courtesy bus available from Miyanoura port; check website for times), +81 87-892-2030, . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. This is the place to stay in Naoshima, if you have the money. Every room has its own individual design and art work, with 49 guest rooms in 4 buildings: Museum, Annex, Park and Beach, all designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando. The beauty of staying at the House is that you can wander the galleries late into the night after all the riff-raff have departed. There's also a monorail up to the rooms at the Oval, which also has a spectacular bar where one can watch the sun set. Dinner at the Museum itself is also an experience not to be missed as all the good tables face out onto the bay. Don't forget to book your slot for Cai Guo-Qiang's 'Cultural Melting Bath'. It's a huge hot tub surrounded by volcanic rocks brought in from China in a private cove not far from Park Building; it can be exclusively hired for an hour (¥1,000) for relaxing, stargazing, sunbathing or love making - in a piece of art. Most rooms must be booked individually; they book up several months in advance, particularly on weekends in the spring and autumn, but are well worth the cost. Off-season booking is far easier, and also easier to extend your stay. The website has a 6-month reservation schedule and detailed room descriptions. ¥30,000-100,000.

Cope edit

There is an extensive aged population on the island. Please be considerate and greet them warmly as you pass them.

The Miyanoura Port offers 56 lockers of various sizes for luggage storage.

Connect edit

Some accommodation options and cafes offer WiFi, while many do not. Free internet access at 2 computers is available at the Miyanoura port terminal ("Marine Station Naoshima") from 08:30 to 18:00. Free WiFi is available at the port terminal as well.

Go next edit

This city travel guide to Naoshima is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.