Photos from the Road: Art Installations on Naoshima Island Japan

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Photos from the Road: Art Installations on Naoshima Island Japan

Naoshima Island

Naoshima Island


Naoshima Island is one of the most interesting art projects I’ve come across during my travels. Since 1989, the small island, located in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, has slowly been transformed into a series of art installations and museums. Threatened with depopulation, the island was revitalized by the cultural foundation Seto Inland Sea Project, which poured money into creating these contemporary art projects.


To visit the three main art areas of Naoshima, you can rent a bike, ride the public bus, or walk. I walked the whole route, totaling probably 10 km. It was a cool, but sunny day, and I enjoyed every bit of the trek along the twisting, narrow road. Much of the route yielded sea views. Towards the south of the island, the Chichu Art Museum, as well as the Lee Ufan and Benesse House are the main attractions. Pumpkin is also located there.


Honmura Naoshima Japan (3)

A bench with a view out to the Seto Inland Sea of Japan.


Over on the east side, the town of Honmura features the art house installations. These are a collection of five installations scattered around the village. One was created out of an abandoned house.


I love you Bathhouse Naoshima Island Japan

Exterior of the “I love You” Bathhouse in Miyanoura. It’s a practical bathhouse and an art installation in one.


Getting to Naoshima Island :


Regular ferries sail to Miyanoura, on the west side of Naoshima, from both Takamatsu and Uno. You could day trip it to Naoshima, but better to stay overnight to get a fuller experience. There is budget accommodation in Miyanoura and more sophisticated lodging at the Benesse House. I stayed at Little Plum.


I wouldn’t say venturing to the island for just one museum is worthwhile, but rather visiting the island altogether is a meaningful endeavor. The combination of sleepy island, quirky accommodation, randomly placed installations, and excellent museums all contribute to the unique experience of visiting Naoshima. For me it was one of the highlights of my Japan trip.


giant trash can Naoshima Island Japan (3)

A gigantic trash art installation can on the side of the road on Naoshima Island.


The Lee Ufan Museum

The Lee Ufan Museum


Cultural Melting Bath on Japan's Naoshima Island.

Cultural Melting Bath on Japan’s Naoshima Island.


naoshima island

View of the Naoshima coastline.


The Benesse House Art Museum.

The Benesse House Art Museum.


Miyanoura port, Naoshima Island, Japan.

Miyanoura port, Naoshima Island, Japan.


Inside an art installation.

Inside an art installation.


Inside the "I love You" Bathhouse.

Inside the “I love You” Bathhouse.


Honmura Naoshima Japan (6)

Part of the Art House Project of Honmura.


Naoshima Island



Detail of the exterior of "I Love You" Bathhouse.

Detail of the exterior of “I Love You” Bathhouse.


Sunset behind Miyanoura harbor.

Sunset behind Miyanoura harbor.


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Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno
Stephen Bugno has been traveling the world and writing about it for the better part of 20 years. His articles and essays have appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, and Transitions Abroad magazine. He blogs at Bohemian Traveler and edits the independent travel magazine He most recently set up a tour company offering authentic, small group tours at Unquote Travel. Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.


  1. I love your pics.
    Did you get to visit the other islands around? Especially Teshima and Ogijima?

  2. Charu says:

    Very cool installations!! Love the pumpkin.

  3. Stephen Bugno says:

    @David, I didn’t get a chance to visit the other islands. But I loved Shikoku so much, I know I’ll be back some day.

  4. Stephen Bugno says:

    Thanks @Charu I was was a really cool place. Unique for sure.

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