Monday, April 25, 2011

瀬戸内 直島 Naoshima, Kagawa: JAPAN TRIP 2011, Part 03


In the early evening of March 15th, we were on the ferry heading to Naoshima, a small island located in the Seto Inland Sea, after two days of multiple train rides, originated fromYamagata (Northern Japan).  For the time we spent in transit and milder climate made me feel that we came farther South.

After we landed, we took a bus to the other edge of island, where the guest house was.  Luckily I was able to make a reservation at the place I was most interested in staying few hours earlier. The place was called Omiyake (おおみやけ), a guest house and a cafe in a historical district, where most of 家(ie; house) project sites were.  I was attracted to this guest house mainly for its architectural interest. The building was over 400 years old and was registered as tangible cultural properties (文化庁有形文化財).  But the most special part of our stay was actually meeting with the owner, Miyake-san. He was the 33rd in the Miyake bloodline (and the O part of Omiyake signals his importance as the firstborn, and now head of the Miyake clan (in fact, many neighbors around him had the same last name of Miyake).  He was a real character.  He welcomed us with tons of drinks as soon as we checked-in, until our bed time, accompanied by Mayuko, a young girl who was working at his cafe.  Our conversation went anywhere from Miyake-san's 30-years of life in Europe and his beautiful wife, to ultimately accusing me of the cause of earthquake. Photo below is Miyake-san and Mayuko.

Next day, we toured around the island. The island was known for its many contemporary art museums.  Among them, we visited the Chichu Art Museum (literally, "in the earth") . The museum featured a number of site-specific installations by James Turrell, Walter De Maria and paintings by Claude Monet. The building was designed by Tadao Ando. For me, the experience was rather clinical, and the museum staff's uniform reminded me of the movie, THX-1138.  Overall, I was more appealed to the old/ or naked part of the island, rather than the contemporary art.  Maybe, the contemporary art did enhance the beauty of traditional Japanese culture, or vise versa.  Anyhow, it's an unique place and worth visiting.

Picture above is Naoshima Ferry Terminal, Architecture by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa.

*As a small trivia, Miyake-san was planning to sing up for a candidate of the next regional election.

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