On the scenic south coast of Naoshima are three art museums designed by Tadao Ando, the internationally renowned architect. In order to preserve the surrounding environment, most of their structures are built underground. Comprising concrete, steel, glass and wood, materials that characterize Ando’s architecture, they also involve scenery, lights and geographical features as part of their architecture, dynamically enhancing the exhibits. A complimentary shuttle bus transports visitors between the museums, but walking between them is also recommended. There are many outdoor art pieces exhibited on the way, and the view of the sea with many islands is beautiful to see while walking.
1．BENESSE HOUSE MUSEUM
Benesse House is a hotel and museum merged into one. Utilizing the natural geographical features, the architect put geometrical structures underneath the ground as“invisible architecture”, so that people can enjoy the interrelation of art and the landscape by going in and out of the building without noticing such techniques. In addition to exhibits like paintings, sculptures, photographs and installations, there are many site-specific works that artists were allowed to create, whatever and wherever they felt like -- at the beach, at the groyne and on the grass.
[Opening Hours] 8:00 - 21:00 (Last admittance: 20:00)
[Admission] 1,030 yen / Free admission for children 15 and under, and overnight guests at Benesse House.
[Access] Three minutes by bus and a 15-minute walk from the “Tsutsuji-so” bus stop.
A museum café where visitors can get a good view of the sea and the outdoor art pieces is on the second floor, besides a museum shop from which you can buy books and merchandise related to the artists in the collection. In the Japanese food restaurant in the basement, you can enjoy meals surrounded by contemporary art works in a relaxing atmosphere, with a good view of the sea from every table. It serves Kaiseki-style meals with seafood from the Seto Inland Sea at dinner time, as well as breakfast and lunch full of seasonal touches.
[Opening Hours] Breakfast: 7:30 - 9:30 Lunch: 11:30 -14:30 (Last orders: 14:00) Dinner: 18:00 - 19:45 or 20:00 - 21:45 *Reservation Only
[Closed] Open 365 days of the year
2．CHICHU ART MUSEUM
Chihu Art Museum is a structure buried in a small hill that looks down on Seto Inland Sea. Tadao Ando, the architect, pursued his style of “invisible architecture” for this museum, which is considered to be the one with the highest degree of completeness among Ando’s works. It features outstanding utilization of natural lighting: you can see five pieces from the famed Water Lilies series by Claude Monet, from his late career, lit only by natural lighting. The museum also exhibits works by James Turrel, which feature light and space, and byWalter de Maria, whose subject is eternal space: the works change their expressions as the season or the weather change. You can go outside to the garden from the café and get a good view of the sea.
March 1 - September 30 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. (Last admittance: 5:00 p.m.)
October 1 – the last day of February 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. (Last admittance: 4:00 p.m.)
[Closed] Mondays* Open on Mondays for national holidays, but closed the following day. [Admission] 2,060 yen *free for children 15 and under
[Access] 12 minutes by shuttle bus ora 35-minute walk from the “Tsutsuji-so” bus stop.
3. LEE UFAN MUSEUM
Lee Ufan is a Korean contemporary artist based in Japan. The Lee Ufan Museum was produced in collaboration with Tadao Ando. It was built by curving the rocks of the moderate valley that is connected to the coastline. Unlike Bensesse House Museum and Chichu Art Museum, which are Western-style pieces of architecture, this museum has the air of the more Asian meditation spaces that Japan and Korea have in common. In addition to Lee’s works, from the early years to today, it also has site-specific works. The flat-surface works with brush strokes and the three-dimensional works combining huge rocks and iron plates are so sharply simple that they stir the imagination of whoever sees it, and the huge dynamic blanks seem to represent the artist’s sensitivity to nature.
[Address] 1390, Aza-kuraura, Naoshima, Kagawa County, Kagawa
[Opening Hours] March 1 - September 30 10:00 - 18:00 (Last admittance: 17:30) October 1 - the last day of February 10:00 - 17:00 (Last admittance: 16:30)
[Closed] Mondays *Open on national holidays but closed the following day.
[Admission] 1,030 yen / Free admission for children 15 and under
[Access] Five minutes by shuttle bus or a 25-minute walk from the “Tsutsuji-so” bus stop.