A to Wa of Japan: Week 22

It’s time for A to Wa of Japan again! Last week’s post was about things beginning with と (to) and we looked at Tebasaki (手羽先). This week we are looking at things beginning with な (na). A big thank you to everyone who joined in with suggestions this week:

David @ Shikoku suggested Naoshima (直島 / a small island in the Seto Inland Sea); Zooming Japan suggested Nagasaki (a city (長崎市) and prefecture (長崎県)), Naoshima, Nakatsu (中津 / a city in Oita Prefectue), Natsume Soseki (夏目 漱石 / a novelist); and Japan Australia suggested natto (納豆 / fermented soybeans), Naruto (NARUTO—ナルト— / a popular Japanese manga series), Nagano (a city (長野市) and prefecture (長野県)), Nagahama (長浜 / a castle town in Shiga Prefecture), and Nara (奈良 / a city in Kansai).

Thank you all for your great suggestions! As I have very itchy feet at the moment, I’ve decide to do another travel post. This week I’m going to virtually visit…

Naoshima (直島)

The first (and possibly only) thing that springs to mind when I think of Naoshima is dotty artist Yayoi Kusama‘s yellow pumpkin:

Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin on Naoshima

Yayoi Kusama’s pumpkin on Naoshima

(Image source)

This piece of art is such an iconic image that many people will travel to Naoshima, and island known as Japan’s ‘island of art’ just to see it! Naoshima is a small island in the Seto Inland Sea (瀬戸内海), and it is part of Kagawa Prefecture (香川県).

As you can see in the Google map above, Naoshima is a tiny island, and it’s actually closer to the main island of Honshu than it is Shikoku, but it is part of Shikoku (四国). As I mentioned in last week’s post, I haven’t had the pleasure of travelling to Shikoku yet, but Naoshima has been on my list for some time, simply because I want to see the view in the image above.

The main reason people usually visit Naoshima is for the art. There are modern art museums and sculptures across the island, and every three years Naoshima is part of an art festival called the Setouchi Triennale (or ‘Setouchi International Art Festival’).

The Setouchi Triennale is actually being held this year. The festival is split into three sections – spring (20th March – 21st April), summer (20th July – 1st September) and autumn (5th October – 4th November). The festival was first held in 2010, so this year’s is the second festival. As well as Naoshima, eleven other islands from the Seto Inland Sea and the ports of Takamatsu and Uno are involved in the festival. There’s some very detailed information about the festival over on Japan Guide if you’d like to know more, and the official website is here.

Naoshima Bath - I♥湯 by Shinro Ohtake; Photo: Osamu Watanabe

Naoshima Bath – I♥湯 by Shinro Ohtake; Photo: Osamu Watanabe

(Image source)

But if you can’t make it to Naoshima this year, don’t worry, there’s still plenty to see and do when the festival’s not on. As well as Kusama’s pumpkin, there’s lots of other art that you can see across the island, in venues such as Benesse House (ベネッセハウス), Chichu Art Museum (地中美術館), Lee Ufan Museum (李禹煥美術館) and the Art House Project. Of these, the one that appeals to me most is the Art House Project, which is “a collection of abandoned houses, workshops, a temple and a shrine that have been converted into art installations and venues for contemporary art by artists and architects from Japan and abroad” (Japan Guide) in Honmura (本村), a port town on Naoshima’s eastern coast. I think if I went to Naoshima I could happily spend a few days wandering around these museums and installations, and I’m sure I would take hundreds of photos!

Honmura, Naoshima

(Image: Japan Guide)

If art isn’t your thing you probably won’t want to visit Naoshima, but if you do somehow find yourself there it seems to be a lovely, relaxing place where you could enjoy just chilling out and escaping the hustle and bustle of the cities. The main modes of transport around the island are bus, car and bike. As someone who can’t ride a bike (shocking, I know), I’ve always felt that places like Naoshima can be a bit inaccessible, but bike hire in Japan is apparently really easy and sure does look like a lot of fun!

Giant Trash Can, Naoshima

Giant Trash Can, Naoshima

(Image source: Tamakikat)

Well, I’ve been keen to visit Naoshima for a long time, but if you need any more convincing, it was selected by Conde Nast Traveler as one of the “seven places in the world you should see next.”, according to JNTO, so now you simply have to add Naoshima to your travel bucket-list!

For more information about visiting Naoshima, check out this fantastic site: Travel Guide Naoshima. The site is in English and includes some really cute maps.

Overlooking Benesse House in Naoshima and Seto Inland Sea

Overlooking Benesse House in Naoshima and Seto Inland Sea

(Image source)


Next week we’ll start with に (ni), so please leave a comment below suggesting a topic for things beginning with に. Topics can be anything, as long as they are connected to Japan – food, places, people, characters, whatever you want to hear about! Just remember that the words you suggest must be Japanese words.

I look forward to hearing your suggestions!  (*^_^)v

10 thoughts on “A to Wa of Japan: Week 22

  1. Ahahaha!~
    You took my suggestion again! And now we posted both about Naoshima at the exact same time. That’s hilarious! XD
    Thanks for always considering my suggestions! :3

    Suggestions for next week:
    Niigata, Nikko


  2. Weird. I posted about Kagawa 1 1/2 weeks ago and briefly talked about Naoshima.

    Anyhoo, ni. Nissan, Nissin, Niihama (in Ehime), nira, nikuman, Niseko (in Hokkaido), ninja, ninjutsu.


  3. Shikoku is a hot topic again which is good to see. I’ve yet to visit Naoshima as well, so will hopefully one of these days. A few suggestions for next week are:

    Niseko (One of Japan’s best ski resorts in Hokkaido)
    Nikko (home to some of Japan’s most renowned shrines and temple)


  4. Yes, what’s up with all the love for Kagawa these days on your blogs?
    In any case, this makes me really happy, and I hope that they will translate into trips here in the near future (remember, this year is the year to visit the islands).


    • Haha, well I’m trying to teach myself about places I haven’t been to in Japan (to help me with my new job as a travel consultant). I wish I could just travel, but I don’t have the money at the moment, so I will have to do it virtually! 😀


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