SEVEN REASONS TO VISIT SETOUCHI (ATT.JAPAN ISSUE 54)
The Setouchi International Art Festival took place on Naoshima, Inujima, and other islands in the Seto Inland Sea from July 19 through October 31, 2010, with a total number of 938,246 visitors. This area also has many other places to visit.
Islands of Art
On Naoshima Island, world famous for art, the harmony of art with nature is intriguing. Architect Tadao Ando designed the Chichu Art Museum, Benesse House, a hotel and a museum, and the Lee Ufan Museum, which opened in 2010. For the Art House Project, old houses on the old streets are exhibited as art works. Seirensho (refinery) is one of the works of the Inujima Art Project, which features maintained and reproduced remains of modern industrial “heritages.”
Daimyo Teien (Feudal Lord Gardens)
Korakuen Garden in Okayama Prefecture is one of the three major gardens in Japan, along with Kenrokuen (Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref.) and Kairakuen (Ibaraki Pref.), and has a 300-year history. Ritsurin Garden in Kagawa Prefecture is a huge garden that took the lords of the Takamatsu domain over 100 years to make. At Kikugetsu-tei, drinking powdered green tea while viewing the garden is enjoyable in any season.
Bizen Osafune Japanese Sword Museum in Bizen Osafune Token Village
This is a unique museum exhibiting Japanese swords. This area was close to a source of the iron sand used to make swords and boasted about the many highly skilled swordsmiths and great amount of sword production. You can have a hands-on experience with a Japanese sword and feel just how heavy they are and you can see traditional forgers at work.Swords, knives and other forged items can be purchased.
Bizen-yaki is representative of Japanese stoneware pottery. The items are fired at a high temperature of 1,250 °C for 10 to 14 days. The pieces are not glazed or painted but mysterious patterns are created by the fire which makes every piece unique and fascinating.
Weeping willow trees shade the Kurusaki River and white-washed storehouses line the street in the Kurashiki Bikan Historical District. Strolling along the river in a leisurely manner is delightful. The Ohara Museum of Art houses a surprising array of world masterpieces such as “Annunciation” by El Greco and “Water lilies” by Monet.
Kanamaruza is the oldest existing kabuki theater in Japan. Konpira Kabuki is performed every spring and, in the other seasons, the theater is open to tourists. Konpira Shrine, also known as “Konpira-san,” has a long history. It enshrines the god of the sea. At the top of the 785 stone steps up to the main shrine, you can see a splendid view. Shopping at shops along the way or soaking in a bath at Konpira hot springs are also fun.
Blessed with a mild, warm climate, the fruit produced in Okayama is very delicious. Peaches, grapes, pears, and melons are all sweet and juicy. Udon noodles are a specialty in Kagawa and famous for their firmness. You can experience noodle making at Nakano Udon School in Kotohira.
From Tokyo (Haneda Airport) to Takamatsu Airport by plane: 1 h 15 min
From Tokyo (Haneda Airport) to Okayama Airport by plane: 1 h 15 min
From Tokyo Station to Okayama Station by JR Shinkansen: 3 h 12 min
To Naoshima: by ferry from Takamatsu Port (Kagawa) or Uno Port (Okayama)
To Inujima: by passenger boat from Naoshima or Hoden Port (Okayama)