The art island

I can’t think of any other country that has an entire island dedicated to art alone.

I swear, only in Japan. But I could be wrong, please correct me if I am.

Even the way to Naoshima, one of the islands of Kagawa, was already easy on the eyes, even if the weather wasn’t at its brightest. Kat noticed a pothole with flowers painted on it at Uno Port, for one. The dotted ferry that took us to the island was already a fascinating thing to look at, and it matched the first piece of art at Miyanoura Port: Yayoi Kusama’s giant red pumpkin.

Pieces like this pumpkin littered the island, although most of them were in the vicinity of Benesse House, the museum which we really came for because of Kat’s dream of getting married there (to Ohno, heehee). We wanted to see the other museums, but half a day wasn’t enough for anything else, especially in that kind of weather. We would’ve gone to the Ando Museum too, and we tried, but it was on the other side of the island.

In any case, Benesse was quite enough. Unfortunately we couldn’t take pictures inside, but I was happy I got to see Yonosuke Yanagi’s “Banzai Corner” and Jonathan Borofsky’s “Three Chattering Men”.

But we were allowed to take photos of the outdoor pieces, like the yellow Kusama pumpkin and some pieces by Niki de Saint Phalle and Karel Appel.

It was also really fun to explore the grounds and feel a little bit like a bunny hopping through random burrows.

Even lunch was lovely.

I couldn’t help but wonder what it was like to live here. I had gotten so used to the background noise of Osaka that coming here felt like diving into a quiet, misty dream. It wasn’t so hard to imagine living in one of the country houses, poking about the yard, and gathering flowers in spring.

Yes, Naoshima, I still dream of you.

***

Another highlight of this trip was taking three (yes, three!) trains from Osaka. Kat and I had an adventure navigating Osaka’s subways to get to Shin-Osaka Station, where we had to take the Hakata-bound shinkansen. We were an hour later than we planned, but we did make it to Shin-Osaka and took the train that would take us to Okayama Station.

And then, realization hit: THIS WAS MY FIRST SHINKANSEN RIDE!

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We were lucky that we got the Hikari train, the newest one that could be taken by JR Pass holders. It was really so nice and comfortable and fast! So fast, that it was actually difficult to get decent pictures of the outside scenery with a camera phone.

The ride to Okayama lasted about 45 minutes, and then from there we had to take another train to Chayamachi, where we could take the connecting train to Uno. I was quite sure that my pocket money would disappear just like that if we didn’t have the JR Pass, so thank God for whoever thought of this, really! So here’s a pro tip: when touring Japan, seriously consider getting one. (I even won a camera because of it!)

We spent so much time riding the trains on this day that suddenly, the word “mamonaku”, which we always heard every time they announced that the train is arriving at so-and-so station, got stuck in my head. Our friend Yuki explained that it means “soon”. So now, I think it’s my favorite Japanese word. More on that later.

Like I said, I really had no complaints taking the trains all the time. Even the older Kagawa train, which we took on the way back to Osaka.

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Art and trains, two of the many things I love about Japan. Well then, we’ll be bound for Kyoto in the next post.

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