The Beauty of Naoshima…

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As I watched my companions running off to catch their ferry after taking this picture, I was a bit slow in deciding how I was going to proceed. After spending a short amount of time reviewing the maps and other information available in the welcome center, I decided that, in order to more fully experience the island, I would rent a bicycle. The other method is to take a bus from place to place for ¥100 yen per ride. That wouldn’t have been a bad choice except for the fact that, for that method to be effective, I’d first have to know where exactly I wanted to go, which of course, I didn’t. Also, one map said that walking is also possible… but let’s face it; I don’t like that choice of wording. So I chose the bike, whose price was very reasonable at only ¥500 for the entire day! “Perfect!,” I thought to myself. However my elation abated quickly after I realized that the seat didn’t raise up higher than my mid-thigh! Despite that, it was still the best option. I had my mobility and my freedom! All I had left to do was decide whether to explore clockwise or counter-clockwise…

Like many of the islands in the Seto Naikai, Naoshima was also the home of many unique works of art scattered across the island. Unfortunately though, on a student’s budget I couldn’t afford those exorbitant prices, so I set off determined to experience the island in a different sort of way. I can honestly say that my main goal for the day was to find the most beautiful place to eat my lunch.

Before long, after deciding on a counter-clockwise direction and taking a turn or two, I began riding alongside a fairly large pond. IMG_2317

This was a good candidate for my lunch place, however it was still too early. I also found it quite funny when I saw this only a dozen meters or so from the water…

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It is officially the largest trash can that I have ever seen!

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If you must know, the Japanese folks I ran into offered me their basketball to use as a prop. I wanted a picture taken of me, so like I always do, I offered to take a picture of them!

Moving on, I came across the apparent hot-spot of the island; the famous Chichu Art Museum (地中美術館). Chi means earth, and chu means inside of. That being said, I can only imagine what kind of art that museum contains, especially after experiencing the Teshima Art Museum. I stopped there, not intending to actually go see its contents, but I left assured that I would not when I was told the waiting time. But, I can at least say that I’ve been there…

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The walk from the museum’s ticket/visitor’s center to the actual museum was beautiful though, and free too!

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It was then that I began to notice the abundance of absolutely stunning flowers that were inhabiting the island. The following shots are some of my favorites that I was able to capture from all over the island.

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Moving on from the museum, I soon emerged on the top of a hill on the other side of the island, overlooking the sea from high above.

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I continued biking, enjoying the steep slope and the speed that it allowed me to reach on that pathetic excuse for a bike. It was then that I came across another spot that called my name, begging me to explore it. The climber inside me never died!

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I had to get down there first from the tall wall that the road was perched on. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t the first person to want to get down to the beach!

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Before I went to go explore the rocky outcropping, I took a closer look at another piece of art on the island; one that most likely gets overlooked by everyone.

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From what I saw that day, this one is actually my favorite.

After admiring it for a bit, and taking a few more shots, I moved towards my real goal of exploring and climbing the rock outcropping. After topping and rounding the first short climb, I discovered that there was, well, more to discover! So I continued onward…

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After getting around the next outcropping, I was surprised to discover these two fishermen out here already. I’m guessing they know of an easier way of getting out there, because they do not look like the climbing type of old Japanese fishermen…

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Now, if I had realized that the view and location were going to be so fantastic, I would’ve brought my bag (and lunch) along with me for the climb. Unfortunately, I didn’t think about that before my adventurer’s spirit kicked in and took me further and further from my starting point. I was even considering going back to retrieve my bag just so I could eat here, but once I got back, I realized that that was not what I wanted to do. So I continued onward, confident I’d find another suitable location.

I made it to another part of the island where there were some other art exhibits and quite a few restaurants. They were all very small, hole-in-the-wall type places. I really wanted to stop and try one, but the rational side of me wouldn’t let that happen. So instead, I found a nice little lounge/gift shop/(hotel lobby?… idk) to hang out it.

IT WAS AIR CONDITIONED!!!!

 Plus, it had other amenities like chairs, free water, a cool light thingy –

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and this cool, delicious, unique, mango flavored, “marble” soda… (¥150)

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Despite being an engineering student, I still couldn’t figure out how to open the frickin’ thing! (Before my ego resigned to asking the staff for help, I nearly passed out trying to twist the top off! ^_^) Apparently I was supposed to use the attached plastic cap to push the lodged-in-place marble down into the bottle…

After resting there, enjoying the nice environment of the lounge, and reading about the island’s history and art exhibits, I took my leave. From there, I soon found my way to the sea again once again…

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…and not far from there, I found some old-looking stairs going up towards an unknown location, so of course I followed them.

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At the top I found myself a nice area with a bench, a view, beautiful flowers, and a cool breeze. It was here that I enjoyed my lunch…

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Many of the flower photos from earlier on in this post came from this area.

Here is the view I had from my bench.

Here is the view I had from my bench.

After taking my time here, I meandered my way back down the stairs to my bike and decided to head towards to ferry port once again to complete my loop. On the way as I was navigating my way out of the small village I was in, I passed a moss garden with what looked like walls that had once been on fire…

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…an art exhibit with the Statue of Liberty inside and an old Coca~Cola sign…

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…a middle school, a high school, and some baseball players at practice…

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…and finally, I also decided to take a slight detour, a road that seemed “less travelled by,” and what I found there may shock you. Find out in my next post about “The Other Side of Naoshima…”

But in the end, weary and content, I lay down in the grass with my camera, a beer, and a sea breeze, next to the ferry, waiting to depart for home, lazily snapping pictures of the many people wanting to be photographed with the big red pumpkin of Naoshima.

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3 thoughts on “The Beauty of Naoshima…

  1. Dan, I really enjoyed reading this one! I’m so glad you decided to explore instead of heading right back home. I love the “street art” you found, and I’m still trying to figure out the “marble soda” puzzle… don’t make me wait too long for part III.

  2. Don’t tell me that you had lunch almost right next to the Go’o shrine and that you didn’t see it?!

    Also, the “burned wood” is just that. Except that it’s done on purpose (before building the house of course) so that the wood doesn’t rot basically.

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