5 Places You Shouldn't Miss on Naoshima Island

As you probably know, Bellerose draws a lot of inspiration from Japan, its culture and its traditions. For our new campaign, we sent Barcelona-based photographers Nuria Val (aka @frecklesnur) and Coke Bartrina on a road trip to discover this marvelous archipelago. They came back with hundreds of pictures and thousands of memories from this once-in-a-lifetime escapade.

One of the highlights of their trip was Naoshima. The small Japanese island is a true paradise for contemporary and modern art lovers and is aptly nicknamed "the art island". There, visitors get to experience art in a whole new way: think sleeping in a museum that doubles as a hotel, visiting a giant waterfront pumpkin or exploring a bath house that doubles as an art installation.





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The nerve center of the island is definitely Benesse House, an architectural project that explores the relations between nature and art and serves as both a hotel and a museum. Built in 1992 by architect Tadao Ando, it was commissioned by the Japanese company of the same name, which focuses on correspondence education and publishing. Contemporary art is everywhere and displayed not only in the actual exhibition rooms, but also throughout the building, its facilities and the surrounding area. Featured artists include heavyweights David Hockney, Alberto Giacometti and Hiroshi Sugimoto.




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Another very distinctive asset of the island, also located to close to Benesse House, is definitely Yayoi Kusama's Pumpkin. The yellow sculpture, created by one of the most acclaimed Japanese artists, faces the sea and has become the most iconic art piece of the island. A second smaller, red pumpkin by Kusama can also be seen upon getting off the ferry that brings visitors to the island, which also features pumpkin-themed buses to help them get around.




Also close to Benesse House, exciting museum Chichu is an intriguing must-see of the island. Entirely underground, it still manages to rely on natural light to illuminate its exhibition rooms! A breathtaking blend of concrete, steel, glass, and wood, the building was also created by Tadao Ando and features works by iconic artists Claude Monet, James Turrell, and Walter De Maria. Described as a spiritual experience, this building will ravish art and architecture fans alike.




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Korean artist Lee Ufan also has his own museum on the island! While he has long been based in Japan and was honored by his adoptive country for his contribution to contemporary art in Japan, a large portion of his work is presented in European museums such as Tate Gallery in London or Centre Pompidou in Paris, where he also spends a lot of time. The building itself is surrounded by peace and quiet and is the result of a collaboration between the artist and Tadao Ando.





One last point of interest that shouldn't be missed on the island is the more recent (2009) bath house I Love Yu, located close to Miyonaura port, which makes it an ideal way to refresh before leaving Naoshima. Adorned with unique, mismatched tiles, the building was designed by Japanese artist Otake Shinro, whose work uses recycled objects found all over the country. Note that this bath house is tattoo friendly!

What to wear in Naoshima





Pictures by Nuria Val and Coke Bartrina
Text by Camille Darroux

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