As visitors from outside of Japan, you may experience some inconveniences, sometimes due to the lack of foreign language services. Furthermore, such language services may not even be sufficient on Naoshima Island, which is very popular among foreign tourists. Make sure you are prepare beforehand to avoid such inconveniences. Below are 11 tips that will assist you.
1. EACH ISLAND IS CLOSED ON A PARTICULAR DAY OF THE WEEK
On Naoshima and Teshima, most eating places are also closed on days when the galleries and museums are closed. Generally, Naoshima is closed on Monday and Teshima is closed on Tuesday. If these days of the week coincide with national holidays they will be open, but will then be closed on the following day. It is advisable to check the museum calendar prior to visiting.
2. EATING PLACES AND ACCOMMODATION ARE LIMITED
On most of the small islands, except for Shodoshima, there accommodation and restaurants are limited. Eateries can be very crowded during lunch time, so it is highly recommended that you plan your lunch beforehand, perhaps by moving it to a different time or by making reservations in advance. There are no convenience stores on the islands, except on Naoshima.
3. PUBLIC TOILETS ARE ALSO LIMITED
There are few public toilets besides those in restaurants. It is advisable that you use one whenever the opportunity presents itself.
4. KNOW THE TIMETABLE FOR THE FERRY
Make sure you take note of the time for the last ferry of the day: you will not be able to go back to town if you miss it. The last ferry may also be very crowded during peak season, so try to line up early.
5. TAKE YOUR GARBAGE HOME
There are no public trash boxes on the island, as the islands are the living spaces of the local residents. It is an important rule to observe that you do not bring your rubbish onto the island and that you take any waste generated home with you.
6. HAVE ENOUGH CASH
Credit cards are accepted only at the museums and hotels. At most other places you will need to
pay cash, so make sure you have enough with you.
7. KEEP YOUR TRAVEL SCHEDULE FLEXIBLE
Relax and enjoy the trips to the islands. Allow yourself plenty of time for a slow and easy walk around the island to observe the people living there, and to enjoy the slow flow of island time.
8. OFTEN VERY CROWDED ON WEEKENDS, CONSECUTIVE HOLIDAYS AND SUMMER VACATION TIME
The museums and artwork on display, as well as the very popular Naoshima Island, may be packed with visitors during holidays of Japan and as such, you may not be able to visit these locations. Visit on weekdays to enjoy a more relaxing and slow trip.
9. KNOW WHAT TRANSPORTATION METHODS ARE AVAILABLE ON YOUR DESTINATION ISLANDS
The transportation methods of each island depends on its size: you might simply walk, you may
need a bike or you might need a car. Check beforehand your options for getting around the
10. ENGLISH SIGNS MAY BE RARE
English signs can be found and English speaking staff is stationed on Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima, where the museums are located. However, on the smaller islands, English signs are rare.
11. THE ISLANDERS ARE VERY KIND
While only a few people may speak English, the people on the islands are friendly and kind. If you ask for directions, most will try to answer you with gestures and others will even take you to your destination. Greet the locals when you walk past them.
Be polite and enjoy your trips to the islands!