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  • Day46

    Naoshima, l'île d'art contemporain

    October 25, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Dernière étape de notre parcours Japonais, l'île de Naoshima.
    Unique en son genre, c'est un île où il y a beaucoup d'art contemporain: des musées, des maisons-galleries d'art, bref c'est c'est une île très artistique.

    Les musées en eux même sont déjà de véritables chefs d'oeuvre architecturaux !!!! Nous en visitons deux qui ont été designés par Tadao Andō. De grandes structures en béton, des effets d'optique, très sobre, minimaliste, c'est vraiment canon, on adore!
    L'une des spécificités est que les musées possèdent de nombreuses œuvres en plein air, sur les plages... Les structures se mêlent donc à la nature pour nous offrir un spectacle très futuriste, c'est magnifique ! Parmi les œuvres il y a la fameuse citrouille jaune à pois (voir photo) que vous connaissez peut être.

    Nous ne savions pas à quoi nous attendre mais beaucoup de personnes nous l'avait vivement conseillé, et nous les en remercions.
    C'est une super parenthèse, très différente de tout le reste, qui vient parfaitement clôturer notre voyage d'autant qu'on a eu un temps splendide, c'était super agréable !

    Nous partons maintenant à Osaka prendre notre avion pour Séoul en Corée où nous allons passer 5 jours chez nos amis Les Blonds.

    On vous embrasse!!
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    Jrm End


  • Day6

    Japan's Inland Sea

    August 14, 2016 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    We left the salubrious Hotel Izutsu early on Sunday morning and headed for the subway. It was an easy 20 min trip to the main Kyoto train station and headed up to the Shinkansen platform. We wanted something for breakfast and there weren't a lot of options open at that hour so egg sandwiches washed down with fruit juice had to do.

    The Shinkansen arrived and departed right on time (of course) and it was a smooth hour or so trip from Kyoto to Okayama. To us Aussies when we say we go from one city to the next we imagine long stretches of country driving with few towns and houses to be seen along the way. Japan is nothing like that. Kyoto and Osaka are sort of merged into one big metropolis with only a few more rice fields appearing when you get out of the central suburbs. There are always houses, roads, and people.

    We were roughly heading west from Osaka along the shore of the inland sea. Okayama is what you would call a regional town with a population of just over 700,000. It also has an important train line connection which is why we were headed there.

    We changed to the Chayamachi train and 20 mins later changed to the Uno train. It may sound scary changing trains so many times in a country where you don't speak the language but really it is pretty easy. The guys on the gate are very happy to help tourists and most signs are in Japanese and English.

    We were heading for the island of Naoshima on Japan's inland sea for our night of indulgence on our holiday. Naoshima is a really interesting island. T found out about it from Catherine and thought it would be a great place to go and it was (thanks Cath).

    Once we arrived at Uno we made the 10 min walk across the road to the ferry to Naoshima. The ferry was actually a car ferry and loads of Japanese were looking to take their cars to Naoshima and the other islands. It was only a 20 minute trip before we arrived at Miyanoura Port on Naoshima and made it off the ferry.

    We found the shuttle bus to our Hotel - Benesse House - and sank into the air conditioning for the 15 min drive.

    Nayoshima is a small island that was barely supported by fishing back in the 80s when it was decided to create a centre for arts and bring tourists to Nayoshima and other islands in the vicinity. Based on the crowds we saw this has been an outrageous success. We happened to be there for the Setouchi Triennale Festival which happens every 3 years and sees hordes of people come to the islands to look at art galleries and generally form queues. One of the most popular galleries, Chi Chu Art Museum, has 5 Claude Monet paintings and there was a 2 hour queue to see it on the day we arrived, luckily one of the ladies at the Hotel recommended we go at 9am the next day and there was no waiting.

    Part of the Art program on the islands includes taking old houses that otherwise would have been left empty and using them for artists to show their work. This meant you would walk down small lanes and find an art gallery happening. Really interesting and a great use for old houses.

    The yellow pumpkin on the water is one of the most famous images of Naoshima.
    One of Japan's key architects, Tadao Ando, designed a number of galleries and buildings on Naoshima in the Brutalist style so the buildings were just as good as the art. More info on the broader festival is here suffice to say it was very impressive.

    As well as taking in the art we went for a trip to Honmura, one of the towns on the island, and stumbled across an Hawaiian style burger joint. We didn't stop for a burger but did stop for one of their craft beers. They had 2 on offer, one was 'Alcohol of Wheat' and one was 'Alcohol of Barley', we opted for Alcohol of Barley which was alcoholic ginger beer and very refreshing as it was easily pushing 40 degrees.

    Benesse House is THE place to stay on the island and the building was designed by the same architect that designed most of the other galleries, it was very nice and luxurious. Happy hour on the deck was definitely one of the highlights, drinking beers and watching the lights of Takamatsu across the sea come on. Dinner was a 5 star event and definitely one of the culinary highlights of the trip so far.

    I've been noticing some of the materials used to build Japanese houses. Being such an earthquake prone area there are very few houses made of bricks. Most seem to be wood which is then scorched to give the blackened look in the photos or some type of fibro. There are some concrete block buildings but these aren't very common.

    Tomorrow we move on from Naoshima and head further west to Hiroshima.
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  • Day11


    January 6, 2018 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 9 °C

    Today started with breakfast at the Uno Port Inn (bacon & egg rolls and coffee) and ended up in Kyoto for dinner !
    In between, we got the ferry out to Naoshima, the most famous of the art islands. It is a fascinating place and we realised that we did not allow enough time for these islands !!! Naoshima has several small galleries and a number of outdoor sculptures along the coast line. Having to be careful with time, we chose Bennesse House, a beautiful building overlooking the beach - a little reminiscent of MONA. Inside is a small collection of works including Hockney, Yves Klein, Basquiat, Twombly as well as some Japanese works. One of the highlights was a huge wall with neon words that light up including several swear words that had Henry and Ivy wide-eyed. Another was a dynamic work of art covering an entire wall and depicting the flags of the world made out of sand and connected by perspex tunnels. An army of ants was introduced at the top and is gradually tunnelling through the art work.
    Henry and Russell went to a unique onsen (elsewhere on the island) which was also covered in art, mosaics and statues. Meanwhile Ivy and I found a fantastic coffee shop run by a very cool guy called Mikazuki Shoten. He was making Melbourne / Sydney style coffee and I had the best latte since arriving in Japan. We also chatted and he gave us sweets and stickers.
    We then ferried back to bid a fond farewell to our friendly hosts and Uno Port Inn. From there we took the local train to Okayama, and after stocking up on ekiben, the shinkansen to Kyoto.
    One more thing (I was reminded of this after re-reading the Hiroshima chapter - at Bennesse House one of the Artworks was a large silk panel in white and rusty red on which was printed Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution (inserted shortly after the bomb) which reads:
    Article 9 (1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes.
    (2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognised.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Honmura, 本村