On our recent trip to Japan, we sought to escape from the hustle and bustle of urban cities – and ended up on the infamous “art islands” on a whim. The three well-known Japanese art islands were Naoshima, Teshima and Shodoshima. It was impossible to visit all three locations for a day-trip, so we narrowed down our choice to Teshima Island.
Located in the southern part of Japan, Teshima Island can be tricky to find, and the information required some research. To visit the island, you must take a ferry from the Uno Port, an approximate three-hour bullet train ride from Kyoto. The port can be reached via Shinkansen or local trains from various cities.
After embarking on a 40-minute ferry ride, we arrived at the Karato Port of Teshima Island. Knowing that we won't be able to explore the entire island in one day on foot, we decided to rent electric bicycles. The bike rental shops are conveniently located by the port, with a reasonable price of 3000 yen for four hours.
For our first stop, we ventured to the tip of the island to visit Les Archives du Cœur. Situated by the beach, this is a quaint museum by artist Christian Boltanski. It houses a permanent exhibition of heartbeat recordings, showing the rhythm of people's heartbeat from around the world. For an extra fee, visitors can opt to have their own heartbeat recorded and added to the collection.
Following the winding road uphill, we arrived at the infamous Teshima Art Museum -- the most well known attraction on the island.
Combing the visions of artist Rei Naito and architect Ryuw Nishizawa, the art museum is constructed in the likeness of a water droplet. The building itself was a mere concrete shell, simple yet reflective of the Japanese minimal aesthetic. Two large oval ceiling openings showcased nature's beauty, allowing its sounds and light to seep into the open space. The only exhibit in the museum was water that flowed and gathered from small holes in the ground, creating a sense of tranquility. Standing inside the vastness of the structure, we cannot help but admire its Zen atmosphere in awe. It was a place where nature, art and architecture intertwined.
Before hoping back onto our bikes, we dropped by the museum Cafe for lunch. There were only two items on the menu, but both were made from organic ingredients grown by Teshima locals. The restaurant also had a beautiful mini skylight, somewhat similar to that of the main building.
After the enchanting museum visit, we biked towards Leura Port, located on the other end of the island. From atop the gentle slopes we observed the serene beauty of the Seto seas and wide stretches of rice paddies.
Our day trip on the island ended with a stop at the Teshima Yooko House. The house was initially renovated by artist Tadanori Yokoo and architect Yuko Nagayama to display art. It currently houses eleven pieces of exhibitions. Divided into "Main House", "Warehouse" and "Outhouse", the structure itself is also considered a striking piece of art.
Satisfied with a day filled with sensory experiences and new inspirations, we returned our bicycle to the depot at Leura Port. For those who wish to escape from the city to immerse in nature and the Japanese culture, Teshima Island is not a place to be missed!
To help you plan your trip, you can find the ferry schedule at the Uno Port here: www.unoslopehouse.com/Teshima-Shodoshima-ferry-timetable.php