Art Hopping in Kagawa Where Beauty Can Be Found at Every Turn

If you are an art lover, make a trip to Kagawa Prefecture to take part in an island-hopping art, museum, and nature tour.
Art Hopping in Kagawa Where Beauty Can Be Found at Every Turn

The prefecture of Kagawa is small in stature, but the amount of art and art museums across its various islands is anything but. Most of Kagawa's islands have one or two art installations, and the island of Naoshima has over a dozen. These islands are also home to the Setouch Triennale, which is a giant art festival that takes place every three years. Whichever island you end up on, you won't have to look too hard to find a piece of art to contemplate. Kagawa Prefecture is a must-visit for any art buff looking for a place to go.

Setouchi Triennale (Setouchi International Art Festival) - 12 islands worth of art

Held once every three years, the Setouchi Triennale is one of the largest art festivals in Japan. It will take you plenty of time to view all of the exhibits since they take place on 12 islands that are in the Seto Inland Sea. The beauty of all of the natural sights only enhances the art installations on the islands. You can visit these artistic structures, installations, and cutting-edge architecture created by artists from all over the planet. The artists themselves even host events which you can take part in.

You can sign up for an official island tour that will take you to all of the artwork highlights across all of the islands. The guided tour takes place on a chartered boat and has the option of including food and drinks. Try out this time-saving boat ride at the next Setouchi Triennale in 2022.

Inujima Seirensho Art Museum - Contemporary art at its finest

Inujima Seirensho Art Museum - Contemporary art at its finest

Inujima Seirensho Art Museum
Photo:Daici Ano

While you are checking out the art installations from the Setouchi Triennale on the island of Inujima, be sure to stop by the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum. This museum will fully immerse you in the contemporary art world by exposing you to large-scale artworks that integrate harmoniously with the natural landscape. Designed by architect Hiroshi Sambuichi, the museum transforms the ruins of a copper refinery into a statement on incorporating art into nature. The current featured artist at the museum is Yukinori Yanagi, whose work questions the future orientation of Japan's modern society.

• Location: 327-4 Inujima, Higashi Ward, Okayama, 704-8153
• Hours: 9 AM - 4:30 PM daily (closed Tuesday - Thursday between March and November)

Naoshima - A plethora of museums

Naoshima - A plethora of museums

“Red Pumpkin” ©️Yayoi Kusama,2006 Naoshima Miyanoura Port Square
Photo/Daisuke Aochi

The island of Naoshima in the Kagawa Prefecture of Japan is just a 30-minute high-speed boat ride away from Takamatsu Port. It is a premier destination if you love contemporary art. The island is home to multiple large-scale installations like Yayoi Kusama's Red Pumpkin and Naoshima Pavilion by Sou Fujimoto. Outside of these awe-inspiring sculptures, there is almost an endless amount of museums on the island.

Chichu Art Museum, Lee Ufan Museum, and the Benesse House Museum in Benesse House Area - All of which were designed by Tadao Ando

Chichu Art Museum, Lee Ufan Museum, and the Benesse House Museum in Benesse House Area - All of which were designed by Tadao Ando

Chichu Art Museum
Photo:FUJITSUKA Mitsumasa

The Chichu Art Museum, the Lee Ufan Museum, and the Benesse House Museum are all found within the Benesse House Area. All three museums are within walking distance of each other near the southwest corner of Naoshima Island.

• The Chichu Art Museum opened in 2004 and is almost entirely underground. It has permanent displays of artwork by Claude Monet, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria. The large amounts of natural light that come in through the skylights change the ambiance of the museum depending on the season.
• The Lee Ufan Museum launched in 2010 and is also semi-underground and displays paintings and sculptures by Lee Ufan ranging from the 1970s to the present day. He collaborated with Tadao Ando to create this museum.
• The Benesse House Museum opened in 1992 and is both a museum and a hotel based on the concept of "coexistence of nature, art and architecture." This is the perfect place for any art lover to stay since you can admire art without having to leave your hotel.

Each museum requires its own ticket, which you can purchase in advance online or at the museum.

• Location: All three museums are next door to each other on 761-3110 Kagawa, Kagawa District, Naoshima
• Hours: Both the Chichu and Lee Ufan Museum are open every day except Monday from 10 AM - 6 PM from March until October and from 10 AM - 5 PM from October until March. Benesse House Museum is open daily from 8 AM - 9 PM.

ANDO MUSEUM in Honmura

The ANDO MUSEUM in Honmura highlights the work of Tadao Ando. He studied and produced works based on the more traditional architecture of Japan. You can view his work in mediums such as photographs, sketches, and models. The museum itself was also designed by Ando. He infused new life into a 100-year old house in Honmura by mixing the traditional wooden structure with concrete. The contrasting colors of light and shadows highlight the artwork differently throughout the day.

• Location: 736-2 Naoshima, Kagawa 761-3110
• Hours: 10 AM - 4:30 PM every day except Monday

Shodoshima Island - Where art meets nature

Masterpieces made by both man and nature fill Shodoshima Island. When your boat first pulls into Tonosho Port on the west side of the island, the Gift of the Sun statue greets you. This statue is a wreath of golden olive leaves, each engraved with a message from a local child. The Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa created the statue, which represents Kagawa's olive-producing region.

If you want to go on a scavenger hunt, you can try and find another famous statue called Regent in Olives. The Elvis-inspired olive-shaped head hides deep in an olive grove in the Umaki area. Japanese sculptor Hisakazu Shimizu designed this statue that has a cool feel about it. If you are more into architecture, check out Hishio no Sato (Soy Sauce Village). You will find around 20 soy sauce storehouses that have been standing since the 19th century and show art in symmetry.

To see more natural art, check out Kankakei Gorge. The gorge has gorgeous views which you can overlook from a ropeway. Angel Road is another site for you to see. You can watch the tides roll out to expose a hidden path of sparkling sand that connects three islands. Take in this view from the Hill of Promises, which is a short hike from Angel Road.

Sanuki Manno Park - The park of seasonal delights

Sanuki Manno Park - The park of seasonal delights

Sanuki Manno Park is another place for you to admire the work of Mother Nature. This small park is filled with a wide range of seasonally blooming flowers almost all year long. You can see and smell hydrangeas, sunflowers, and tulips, among many others. The winter season brings an illuminated light display which is the largest light display in Shikoku. The park also has a few manmade pieces of art, including a giant waterfall and an unforgettable dragon statue.

How to get to Kagawa Prefecture

Start your trip exploring Kagawa by flying into Takamatsu Airport on Japan Airlines. All of these islands and their respective museums can be reached by boat after arriving in the city through the Port of Takamatsu. You can get to Shodoshima in 30 minutes and Naoshima in 35 minutes on a high-speed boat ride from the Port of Takamatsu. To get to Inujima, you have to take a boat to Ieura Port on the island of Teshima, where you can then transfer to a boat headed to Inujima Port.

Where to see art in Kagawa Prefecture

Whether you want to visit the islands of Inujima, Naoshima, or Shodoshima, you will be sure to come across amazing artwork in all kinds of different mediums. This is the perfect trip for any art lover. To make this dream a reality, book a flight to the Takamatsu Airport from one of 30 different cities in the Japan Airlines domestic network using the JAL Japan Explorer Pass.

Getting There