Chichu Art Museum

“Island of Art” floating in the Seto Inland Sea. Step into the building and get intoxicated with the amazing space appears in front.

This is the museum of Contemporary Art in Naoshima island, Kagawa, Japan. In Naoshima island “Benesse House” museum opened in 1992, and this Chichu Art Museum opened in 2004. After that when the Setouchi Triennale began in 2010, it became a world-famous place as an island of contemporary art. 

From Tokyo, take a flight to Takamatsu Airport, move to Takamatsu Port by bus, ferry from Takamatsu Port, and about 15 minutes by bus from Miyaura Port where the ferry arrives. It takes 4-5 hours in total. Just seeing this time, it looks like it is not too far, but when transferring by airplane, bus, ferry and bus, feeling it is really far.

The first time I visited was during the 1st Setouchi Triennale. There were so many people, and when arrived at the ticket center of the museum, numbered ticket given and had to wait for more than an hour before entering the museum. However it was a place with such a strong impact that I had been waiting. From 2018, admission is by appointment with an online ticket. Probably because there are too many visitors.

The first thing that surprises me is that it has a long walk to the exhibition room. Walk through the gate, which is a few minutes walk from the ticket center, and walk for a while to the inside of the building. Walking along the passage of a bare concrete building designed by Tadao Ando … From here, please walk and check by yourself.

About 10 minutes on foot from the Chichu Art Museum, there is the “Lee Ufan Museum” which also designed by Tadao Ando. Including this museum, “a clear entrance will not be built”. I feel that this is the one theme. This ambiguity must be one factor that creates excitement for visitors.

When entering the building with the exhibition room, seeing a sense of unreality. When entering the exhibition room, this sense of unreality increases. The museum only exhibits artworks by Monet, James Turrell and Walter de Maria, all of which are wonderful.

In particular, the room of Walter de Maria is an unreal space. A sphere placed in the center of the room takes the unreality space to the next level. In terms of the unreality space of the Art Museum, personally, this place is No.1 among exhibition rooms of the Art Museum in the world.

When you have a enough time, I would like you to sit on the steps and imprint the feeling of the heterogeneous space in your brain. In this room, there are occasional drum sounds. I sat for 30 minutes but could not hear it. According to the staff, it was ringing several times an hour. I could not hear the drums, but sometimes I could hear the faint sound of tipping metal.

James Turrell has three artworks on display. “Afrum, Pale Blue / 1968” “Open Sky / 2000” “Open Field / 2004”. I think it is the best to appreciate these three artworks in the order he created, in the sense to recognize the evolutionary way of the artworks based on the light of James Tarrell.

From the conversation with the staff, the open field has evolved since 2004, and I imagine that the open sky is also evolving. Experience the “Open Sky Night Program” on Friday and Saturday evenings is the “Must” event to participate.

This museum is under the ground, so it is limited space but the splendor of the design gives it a comfortable space. In addition, walking will bring out the curiosity of “what’s going on next space?” (I think it must be, there are people who can not reach Walter de Maria’s exhibition room).

In addition, the number of people in the exhibition room is limited due to the time-based admission is applied. This is one of the factors that make this space special. The second visit was in winter, so there were very few visitors, and each exhibition room was in a state where it could monopolize the space, giving a feeling of extraordinary. Building inside is not large, but it is a luxurious space. Please visit and experience it.

By the way, photography was prohibited inside the building. I might think, “A museum that does not allow photography at this time?,” but if allowing photography, it is full of people who take pictures, and will not have a feeling to apprecicate artworks. In this sense, it is also a rare museum that convinces “No photography”.

​Visited in 2010, 2022

​Basic Information

■ Name of Place:Chichu Art Museum・Benesse House Museum
■ Address : 3449-1 Tsumuura, Naoshima-cho Kagawa-gun, Kagawa-ken, Japan
​■ Homepage :