Japan: Naoshima & Teshima Islands

How does one begin talking about one of the most inspirational and surreal places they've visited? If you follow along on Instagram you've seen that I've been posting a lot from Japan's Naoshima and Teshima Islands. These two remote islands in the south east(ish) area of Japan are still considered hidden islands of art to the western world (we were quite possibly the only non-Japanese tourists on the islands during prime travel season). This is understandably so, since you do have to veer far off the tourism course from popular areas like Tokyo and Kyoto to arrive to the islands. Regardless, it is absolutely worth the trip. If you like modern art, architecture and downright magical spaces, I'd actually recommend making a trip to these two islands, rather than making some of the more traditional tourists stops to say, Nikko or Nara. 


We spent a night in Okayama in order to easily access Naoshima Island the following morning. Two trains and a ferry ride have you there in a little over an hour with plenty of time to spend a fulfilling day on the island. 


The Benesse House Museum and the Chichu Art Museum are two main museums on Naoshima, both designed and realized by architect Tadao Ando. Both spaces are impeccable in their design and curation, creating a truly unique art experience. 

Wandering the carefully designed spaces, it is easy to get lost in the details and the natural light interactions with the space. I was left in complete awe and with a new perspective on life and my work (I was not kidding when I said that these islands are utterly inspiring!). Some works I particularly enjoyed, from the Benesse House Museum, were Kan Yasuda's "The Secret of the Sky" (pictured above) and the works of one of my favorite artists, Hiroshi Sugimoto. It is also always impressive to see anything by Yayoi Kusama, especially her famed "Pumpkin", which is on display in the outdoor works.

In the Chichu Art Museum, the works of Claude Monet, presented in a modern minimal space, quite literally took my breath away. The James Turrell and Walter De Maria installations were also just as stunning. And it goes without saying, that merely walking through this Ando museum is also an installation in itself.

[Pictured above: Keeping cool in the extreme heat by wearing: Vince shorts (similar and on sale!), Everlane tank (available in white and grey), Larsson & Jennings watch, Goorin Bros hat (similar), Dusen Dusen sunglasses, and Tiger of Sweden shoes (I've finally let out my secret of the most perfect minimal white leather sneakers!)]

Teshima Island requires a separate half day visit, as it would be quite challenging to fully appreciate Naoshima and time the ferries accordingly to see both islands. Teshima houses one art museum, the Teshima Art Museum. This museum is actually one suburb artwork by architect Ryue Nishizawa and artist Rei Naito. Roam the museum grounds and surrounding rice fields, enter the museum and lose yourself in absorbing the work's relationships with nature and the elements for an unforgettable experience. Be sure to stop in the cafe as well, as this museum cafe instantly became one of my most favorite-designed cafes. If you are planning to visit Japan, I would highly recommend adding these two islands to your list of places to see. I only wish I had visited these museums the first two times I had been to Japan!