Benesse Art Site Naoshima

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About the Islands

Naoshima

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Island Overview

Situated about 13km north of Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture and 3km south of Tamano in Okayama Prefecture. The main island, together with the surrounding Naoshima group of islands, form the town of Naoshima in Kagawa Prefecture. The island is comprised of three districts: the Miyanoura District, a busy area with the frequent arrival and departures of ferry services; the Honmura District, modeled on the castle towns of the time of the civil war with castles by the sea; and Tsumu'ura District, a fishing harbor with a long history since the olden times. The island's main industries include businesses related to Mitsubishi Materials, and fish farming of yellowtail and seaweed.

Activities on the Island

Benesse Art Site Naoshima was born from the Naoshima International Campsite in 1989. It then opened Benesse House (1992), an establishment offering hotels rooms and dedicated spaces for exhibiting contemporary art. After holding the outdoor exhibition "Out of Bounds" (1996), in 1998 the focus moved from the art museum toward the local town and its inhabitants as they went about their daily routines, leading to the start of the Art House Project. In 2004, it opened the Chichu Art Museum as a stage for showcasing a compilation of all the art activities carried out in Naoshima up to that point. Over a span of many years, it has made art become ingrained with Naoshima and its natural landscapes.
The island inhabitants placed contemporary art at the core of their deepening interest in history, culture, as well as the very communities that they lived in. At the same time, they also deepened further their connection with the local region by giving their support and collaboration in local projects, such as the Naoshima Noren Project (2004), where they would hang a variety of Japanese noren curtains on gates and entry hallways around the town; the Naoshima Rice-Growing Project (2006), where they restarted the process of rice cultivation which had been stopped in Naoshima for a number of decades; as well as entrusting the management of the Naoshima Bath "I♥︎︎湯" (I Love Yu), an art establishment with a bathing facility created in 2009, to the Town-Naoshima Tourism Association.

Teshima

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Island Overview

Teshima is located on the eastern part of the Seto Inland Sea, about 30 minutes by ferry from Takamatsu. In the middle of the island there is the Danyama Mountain, offering stunning views of the Seto Inland Sea, as well as the Karato Spring Water, producing crystal clear spring water that feeds the terraced paddy fields. Over the years, the area's agricultural industry, including the cultivation of rice which has been practiced since the olden times, fishing industry, and dairy industry have prospered successfully, making Teshima become well known as an island with an abundance of food, perfectly befitting its Japanese name (豊島=Teshima where Te=abundance and shima=island). The unlawful dumping of industrial waste, which started in the 1970s, actually became a large-scale industrial problem across the whole of Japan. However, nowadays, there is a waste processing plant in Naoshima in operation, aimed at restoring the island to its original state and reconstruct its inhabitants' lifestyles.

Activities on the Island

The art projects that have been carried out continuously for approximately 30 years in Naoshima have been linked to the creation of communities focused on the local regions, with further expansion achieved through the Setouchi International Art Festival in 2010. Teshima became an island that offered a great opportunity for the expansion of art. In line with the construction of the Teshima Art Museum in 2010, the art projects involved the local inhabitants to work together for the restoration of approximately 10 hectares of fallow fields, for the purpose of converting them into paddy fields and growing farmland. The surrounding area of the art museum has now been revived with beautiful landscapes of terraced paddy fields producing healthy ears of rice year on year. The art museum, shaped like a drop of water that has just fallen down to the ground, blends itself into the landscape of paddy fields with beautiful views of the Seto Inland Sea, giving a warm welcome to visitors every year. Alongside the " Les Archives du Coeur " (2010) and "Teshima Yokoo House" (2013) projects, the aim of the island is to become a place where people can deepen their thoughts to find the real meaning of abundance through art, as well as what it means to "Live Well."

Inujima

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Island Overview

Inujima is located about 2.5km south of Hoden in the southeastern part of Okayama Prefecture. It is the only inhabited island of Okayama, reachable within 10 minutes by a regular boat service. The area is known for the production of its fine-quality granite (Inujima Mikage). In the olden days, Inujima became the source of stone for the stone walls of Edo Castle, Osaka Castle, and Okayama Castle, and to this day its stones are still highly regarded all around the country. The population is said to have been around 3,000 to 4,000 people during the period of 10 years from 1909 when the Inujima refinery was in operation. However, due to the closure of the refinery and the decline of the island's quarrying industry, the current population amounts to 47 people with an average age of 75, constituting an island seriously affected by depopulation and aging.

Activities on the Island

Following from the art activities carried out in Naoshima, the art museum "Inujima Art Project Seirensho" (currently the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum) was opened in 2008 based on the concept of "Using what exists to create what is to be." The museum was created by preserving and restoring the remains of the refinery, which is a designated heritage site of industrial modernization. In addition, 2010 saw the launch of the Inujima Art House Project, a town restoration project by artistic director Yuko Hasegawa and architect Kazuyo Sejima. A number of galleries, made with a variety of materials such as the tiled roofs and old materials of old private houses, transparent acrylic fabric, and aluminum that reflects the surrounding scenery, were dotted around the town to create a new form of art exhibition. This design allows visitors and artworks, as well as the island's beautiful landscapes, to become completely integrated as one.

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