A few key islands in the Seto Inland Sea are now world famous thanks to their many art museums and installations. Here’s how you can experience them.
Start at Naoshima. If you’re travelling from Tokyo, the quickest way to get here is to fly to Takamatsu with one of the low cost carriers, and from there change to the ferry bound for Naoshima. If you prefer to travel by rail, or if you’re coming from Kyoto or Hiroshima, your best bet is to take the shinkansen to Okayama and then change to a local train bound for Uno, where there’s also a port with frequent ferry connections to Naoshima.
Naoshima has plenty of things to see and explore, and we recommend staying on this island for at least one full day. The easiest and most flexible way to experience Naoshima is by renting an electric bike rather than to rely on the spotty bus service on the island. Plus you get to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise!
Head over to Teshima, where there’s another impressive art museum as well as several “art houses” scattered around the island. Ferries to Teshima depart a few times every day, and a one way ticket costs 620 yen. Teshima is bigger in size than Naoshima, so even though the number of places to see is considerably less, expect to spend a full day on this island as well. If you only intend to go to the main art museum, half a day might be enough, however.
Visit the tiny island of Inujima, one of the smallest art islands, yet well worth a visit thanks to the impressive Seirensho Art Museum. A unique mixture of impressive art installations and interesting architecture, housed in the ruins of an old copper refinery, built back in 1909. Ferries to Inujima depart from both Naoshima and Teshima, but there are only a few daily departures, so make sure to check the schedule in advance and plan accordingly.
These three islands contains the bulk of all the art, but if you want to spend some more time in the area we recommend that you head over to Shodoshima, the second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea. Alternatively, you can just head back to the mainland and continue your travels around the coast or off to another area.