As the location of the Benesse Art Site, the island of Naoshima (直島) has become one of the region's biggest tourist attractions, offering a unique opportunity to see some of Japan's best contemporary art in gorgeous natural settings. Museums and numerous outdoor sculptures are situated around the coast, including Yellow Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama, which has become a symbol of Naoshima.
The Benesse project started in the early '90s, when the Benesse Corporation chose Naoshima as the setting for its growing collection of modern art. Once home to a dwindling population subsisting on the proceeds of a small fishing industry, Naoshima now has a number of world-class art galleries and installations, and has attracted creative types from all over Japan to set up businesses here. The art movement has not stopped at Naoshima's shores, either, with museums and art sites popping up on other islands in the Inland Sea.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Naoshima.