Benesse House is famous resort hotel situated in the island of art Naoshima. Guests of the hotel can enter the Benesse Museum for free, eat luxurious food and sleep in stylish rooms. The hotel itself is worth making a trip to Naoshima, but there are also many art objects around, like the famous pumpkin of Kusama Yayoi, so you can visit them even if you don’t stay at Benese House. I will now introduce some of the art installations and suggested itineraries to see them.
Naoshima's symbol! Kusama Yayoi's yellow pumpkin
What people who do not stay at Benesse House should know is that non-guests are not allowed to enter the surrounding land with bicycles or cars. You can only use public transportation until some point and then continue on foot. If you use a bus, get off at Tsutsuji-so bus stop. If you use a car, park at the free tourism parking lot near Tsutsuji-so. After you start walking, you will soon see the beautiful sand beach “Kototanji”. The sand is gentle and water is transparent there! Just this view alone is mesmerizing. The buried torii shrine gates near the bus stop are also part of the peculiar art around the island, so don’t miss them.
What you will see when you continue further along the coast is the famous pumpkin. Created by popular designer Kusama Yayoi in 1994, that pumpkin is exactly what most people associate Naoshima with. Back then it was considered the biggest pumpkin in the world. Now that is the “red pumpkin” which is also on Naoshima island. A few years ago the stem got blown away by a typhoon and vanished in the sea. But it was found by fishermen and successfully returned back to its original place.
The pumpkin is so popular that there is often a waiting line of people wanting to take a photo. It is especially crowded on weekends, while on weekdays the pumpkin stays there relatively lonely.
Astounded by the colorful art objects
Go to the lawn near the yellow pumpkin and you will see many outdoor colorful art objects scattered around. On the photo you see Karel Appel’s “Frog and cat” from 1990. There are other colorful and transparent mystical objects too. You can even sit on some of them and have a photo of you taken. The entire area is a place to explore the art installations leisurely.
Get local itelms from Benesse House's shop
Benesse House’s shop is located on the lawn. Inside you can find many art related stylish goods and souvenirs with the image of Kusama Yayoi’s pumpkin. So many things you will want to buy as commemoration of your trip to Naoshima.
Some items can only be purchased at Naoshima, like the ones on the photo: Kusama Yayoi style ecobag: 630 JPY Pumpkin towel (Imabari towel): 1200 JPY The letters “Naoshima” are designed by Kusama Yayoi himself. Fans of rare items and the pumpkin should definitely buy the items.
Benesse House Shop Open: 8:30~ 19:00 Closed: No closing days
When you continue further…
Many people think that the shop is the farthest place you can reach aroun Benesse House, but that’s not true! There is a small path along the coastline which is a little hard to find, but if you take it, you can go further. Eventually it comes out to a road. You might need to climb up a hill, but will finally reach a spacious place. There you will see another peculiar art object swinging to the wind. That is George Rickey’s “Three squares” from 1972-1982.
Further down the slope you will see the sea on your right side and the wharf on your left side. Let’s first explore the art objects near the coastline. The first one you’ll see at the shore is Otake Shinro’s “Shipyard works, Stern and Holes” made to look like an old ship in 1990. Nearby is “Shipyard works, cut ship body” from the same year and series.
A mysterious picture frame seen from the wharf?
You will see a strange picture frame on the right side of the wharf (the white object on the right part of the photo).
That is Sakamoto Hiroshi’s “Time Exposed” from 1980-1997. From the wharf you cannot see very well what’s inside the frame, but in fact there is another copy of the same art installation inside Benesse House, where only guests of the hotel can see it. Inside the picture frame is a monochrome photo of the horizon. In fact it is installed exactly at the level of the horizon. The two objects get swapped once every two years and during that time lucky visitors can see the one on the rocks at a close distance.
That completes the walk around Benesse House. If you continue walking for 20 minutes further, you will eventually reach Chichu Museum. But let’s return back to the parking lot or Tsutsuji-so bus stop.
There are as many art objects as you find!
Here I introduced the art installations around Benesse House. The ones on the photos are all famous, but there are other less known objects too. Walk around and look for them! There are as many as you find!
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