Teshima, Japan – An Art Lover’s Dream Island

teshima ieura setouchi triennale teshima art museum

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teshima ferry seto inland sea

Teshima ieure port seto inland sea setouchi triennale

An early start was on the agenda today as we had planned to go by ferry to Teshima, one of the islands close to Naoshima and part of the Setouchi Triennale 2016. An art festival set on 12 different islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The first boat was to leave Honmoura port at 8.05. Twenty minutes later we arrived at Ieura port on Teshima.

teshima ieura overgrown house architecture

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale staircase

To get around the island and to see the different art works we had to rent bikes. We were not allowed to take ours on board due to the small size of the boat. We found a bike rental not far from the port and hired electric bikes, as we wanted to be back at 13:00 for the boat back to Naoshima to visit the Benesse art sites. Teshima seemed even more remote than Naoshima and there were plenty of abandoned buildings. Trying to get people to visit these remote islands was one of the reasons behind setting up the art festival. Many of the younger population on Teshima had left over the years, as they did not seem to have a future here and moved away to the bigger cities.

teshima ieura corner shop convinience store

teshime ieura cat cafe

Our first stop was Il Vento, a crazy house/restaurant, camouflaged by patterns, stripes and dots, inside and out, by German artist Tobias Rehberger. We felt slightly dizzy after walking through it and could not imagine sitting there to enjoy a coffee or even food as it was also intended to be a restaurant.

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale il vento tobias rehberger

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale il vento stairs

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale il vento tobias rehberger

We cycled on to Teshima Yokoo House, by Tadanori Yokoo, which was turned into an art installation with a colourful Zen garden. Jerome really liked this house as it had a glass floor inside and we could see the water flowing underneath into the garden.

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale yokoo house

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale garden

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale house entrance

Before moving on to the next artwork we stopped at a Café for a coffee and some of the delicious, straight out of the oven, cheese rolls. We were very conscious of the time and decided to move on faster than we would have normally done.

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale bakery

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale cafe nomado

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale cacti

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale local farmer

The Needle Factory by Shinro Ohtake was the last artwork here in Ieura port for us to see. The artist, together with the local people had placed an unused wooden hull from a shipyard in Uwajima. The idea behind it was to make people aware of the history of Teshima. The needle factory used to be a big employer for the local woman, but had closed decades earlier to due the fading demand. Today most locals live off fishing and the rice they produce.

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale shinro otake

We cycled on, leaving the village behind, up a curving road, we were glad we had hired electric bikes, to Tom Na H-iu, a sculpture by Mariko Mori. The sculpture was set in the middle of a pond inside a thick bamboo grove. The sculpture is connected to a computer of the Kamioka Observatory and glows every time a supernova explosion is detected. Needless to say we were not lucky enough for it to happen. Jerome said afterwards that this was his favourite artwork of all.

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale Mariko Mori

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale cyclin

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale rice fields

Further up the hill, past lush green rice fields, backed by the blue Inland sea we reached the village of Karatooka. Dotted though the village were several art works and restaurants. I would have loved to stop at Shima kitchen, to sit on the wooden boards in the shade and enjoy a lazy lunch.

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale karato oka restaurant

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale karato oka village architecture

teshima ieura setouchi triennale yellow telephone

From now on it was down the hill, the warm breeze barely cooling us, to Teshima Art Museum. We assumed we would be able to get tickets straight away but were proven wrong. The next available time slot to enter the museum was an hour later. We were not aware that our Triennale ticket did not grant us instant access to all the art sights; also we had to pay an additional entrance fee on top.

teshima ieura setouchi triennale  road

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale dragon flies

We decided that an hour would give us enough time to ride all the way down to Karatohama to visit Les Archives du Coeur, an installation where we listened to recorded heart beats of people from all over the world. If you wanted to you could have your heartbeat recorded and added to the collection against a fee of 1,540 Yen. The archive was housed in a hut on a deserted beach with hundreds of dragonflies buzzing around us.

teshima ieura setouchi tirennale karato hama anchors

teshima ieura setouchi triennale llobet pons

teshima ieura setouchi triennale lighthouses

The cycle back to the Teshima Art Museum would have been muscle tearing if we had not had the electric bikes. We entered the museum along the path winding through the forest to the entrance of the dome like white washed structure that peeked out between the green terraced rice fields. We took off our shoes and entered the building. Inside we found a peaceful, tranquil space with a huge round hole in the ceiling that is open to the elements of nature. We sat down and noticed some water drops running down the floor. In fact water slowly drips and seeps onto the floor through small ping-pong sized balls and tiny holes in the concrete floor. I wish we could have stayed here for longer but we had to rush back to Ieura to get our ferry back to Naoshima. We had expected there to be more in the museum than “just” the building, especially after paying the extra entrance fee.

teshima ieura setouchi triennale teshima art museum

teshima ieura setouchi triennale teshima art museum inside

teshima ieura setouchi triennale bakery sign

teshima ieura setouchi triennale coffee vending machine

teshima ieura setouchi triennale seafood cracker

Teshima was a gem of an island and I know now that I would plan in an overnight stay to have more time exploring and seeing the other side of the island.

3 thoughts on “Teshima, Japan – An Art Lover’s Dream Island

    1. We did not see any. Most of the island is very hilly so if you are planning on cycling further I would recommend on taking a Mamachari with a child seat. We hired some electric bikes and were glad to have them. We always used to buy a children’s bike at Muji as we could never find children’s bikes for rent and would cycle a lot during our holidays in Japan.
      In the last few years we took our bike from home, as British Airways allows you to take an item of sports equipment for free on long haul. This can be a bit annoying though if you have a lot of luggage and are not renting a hire car. Please let me know if you have any other questions,
      Vanessa

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