Is Naoshima Worth Visiting?

Naoshima is an island in the inland sea with a few art installations. It’s one of the top picks in the Lonely Planet “Japan” guide book and is highly rated on TripAdvisor. It’s a bit of a trek to get to though, so…

Is Naoshima worth visiting? 

Maybe. If you have plenty of time, it’s a sunny day, you like modern art, and have some spare cash – then go.

Chichu Art Museum was interesting, albeit expensive. I enjoyed the space and the building itself, the walk-in exhibit we had to queue for was pretty cool, and I liked the Monets and the big bad exhibit was awesome – it reminded me of the land where Superman’s dad lives.

In all fairness.  We didn’t see all of the art sights.  We couldn’t afford to stay on the island and didn’t have time for the Naoshima Bath which sounded cool.  We skipped the Lee Ufan Museum and the Ando Museum (following reports that they were overpriced), and couldn’t find the Art Project Sites…

The Benesse House Museum was alright, interesting building with a few cool pieces but nothing amazing.  Again, I think it would have been better on a clear day.

How and when should you go?

If you’re going to go, go early, and on a nice day.

We left Okayama on the 7.10 JR train, changing once to get to Uno.  From Uno, we got a ferry, (the port is a short walk, clearly signposted from the station) to Miyanoura on Naoshima Island. The ferry journey takes 20 minutes and cost 560 yen return trip.

The main website about the island, has lots of information about the museums and includes ferry and bus timetables.

From Miyanoura, if you time it right there should be a local bus leaving shortly after you arrive which will take you on to some of the art exhibits or museums which are scattered over the island.  Some people cycle to avoid taking the bus, but it’s a long way and the roads are fairly hilly and narrow.

We caught the bus, (each ride costs 100 yen), to the bottom of the island where a free shuttle bus takes you to the Museum sites in the south. The free shuttle doesn’t run often so we walked most of the way between the art sites.  

I’m sure this would be lovely on a sunny day, not so much on a drizzly grey one.

We were there on a relatively quiet Tuesday in April but there were still lots of tourists – a lot more than I thought there would be, especially considering the trek to get there!

It gets packed in summer apparently when you can only get a timed ticket to the main museum and the buses are packed. The little local buses that run local people and toursits around the island were full – I wouldn’t recommend going at high season or on a weekend if you can help it.

We got the return ferry that left around 3pm and got back to Okayama around 5pm – tired and looking forward to some well deserved Ramen!