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Trip Report: Mid November, 1 night Okayama, 2 nights Naoshima

Trip Report: Mid November, 1 night Okayama, 2 nights Naoshima

Old Nov 25th, 2017, 03:29 AM
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Trip Report: Mid November, 1 night Okayama, 2 nights Naoshima

Original impetus for this trip was desire to visit Korakuen, the garden in Okayama ranked one of the top three landscape gardens in the country. Although a keen gardener and knowledgeable about Japanese gardens, I’d never call myself a fan. But we were so impressed by Kenrokuen in Kanazawa (also one of the three greats) that we thought we should check this one out.

We arranged shinkansen and hotel through JTB which always offers a good package deal. The JTB agent suggested we extend the trip to Shodoshima, the ‘olive island’ in the inland sea which boasts a famous ryokan (Mari). Shodoshima didn’t appeal this time round but the suggestion reminded us that Okayama is a jumping off point for the ‘art islands’ and we decided to add two nights on Naoshima.
We were surprised by our Japanese friends’ reactions to our plans. Those in their thirties were enthusiastic about Noashima – though none had visited and described it as ‘the place foreigners like.’ In contrast, the older generation seemed never to have heard of it. One very well travelled, educated friend was so disconcerted that she wasn’t familiar with it that she went away and researched, telling me later ‘I understand where you are going now. It is the ‘rubbish island’ transformed into a place for foreign tourists!”

One of the challenges with visiting the art islands is scarcity of accommodation. We definitely wanted to stay on Naoshima rather than taking day trips from Uno or Honmura. But the choice comes down to the very expensive Bennesse House or guesthouses and hostels – really nothing in between. In September most places were already fully booked for the two nights we wanted in mid November. BH had availability for one of the dates so I booked that as a safety, free cancellation being possible up until a week before check-in. I kept checking the website for cancellations but the only rooms that came up were the top end suites. While the BH room rates could be justified as the unique chance to stay in the Ando-designed museum, adding in breakfast and dinner pushed the final figure sky high. It wasn’t clear at all what the options were for eating elsewhere and while skipping breakfast was no hardship, dinner was another matter. The Japanese restaurant was fully booked for the night we would be there, leaving only the French restaurant which was not our first choice.

We considered having one night at BH and then transferring to other accommodation but decided we would rather stay put for the two nights. I booked the ‘apartment’ at the Guest House Omiyake in Honmura, via Booking.com and Google translate. In the week before we travelled, I emailed the owner twice and he responded promptly. His English turned out to be near fluent – though he said his French was even better. The experience if we’d stayed at BH would have been totally different but the guesthouse turned out to be the right decision for us.

Okayama: We arrived midday Sunday and went directly to the Information Centre. Although I’d pieced together as much information as possible online and via JNTO and JTB offices in Tokyo, I was anxious to confirm the bus and boat schedules for getting to Inujima and then Naoshima the following day. This turned out to be a good move as the direct bus which I’d counted on getting us from Okayama to Honmura (embarkation port for Inujuma) on Monday turned out to run weekends only. But the handout showing the necessary train to bus to boat connections was all we needed to reschedule.

We then dropped our bags at the ANA Crowne Plaza (attached to the station and chosen purely for convenience and the JTB rate) and headed out to Korakuen. We took the tram there, direct but requiring a short walk to the actual garden. Before entering we stopped at one of the little restaurants with verandas built out over the river facing the castle and enjoyed the seasonal speciality: oyster udon. Korakuen, while not on the same scale as Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, beautifully exemplifies the ‘borrowed’ landscape technique. In contrast to Tokyo gardens where most gardens are set against a backdrop of skyscrapers, the only manmade structure visible from this garden is the castle. Korakuen reminded me of Capability Brown’s work in that great artifice has created what appears a simple natural landscape.

Returning, we took the bus from Korakuen’s main exit/entrance which winds a bit before arriving at the station. Our Pasmo cards worked on the tram, bus and almost all trains in the area. This proved a great convenience when we found the station mobbed with crowds returning from the Okayama marathon which had just ended. Most were queuing to buy tickets so we were able to sail past and board the train to Kurashiki where we were headed for the ‘historic district’ based around a small canal. We were there at dusk to enjoy the illuminations – as a result most of the museums/houses were closing but the area was very atmospheric. Probably most interesting was a photographic exhibit in Ivy Square, a complex based in an old textile mill. Although good for a pleasant hour or two, Kurashiki didn’t really strike us a ‘must see.’ That night we had a Japanese dinner in the restaurant on top of the hotel – an easy option between two major travel days. Next morning we were off to Inujima by train, bus and boat, and then on to Naoshima. To be continued.
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Old Nov 25th, 2017, 09:33 AM
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Oooh wonderful, enjoying so far (and helpful to know your experiences in booking accommodation for the Naoshima visit). Looking forward to the next installments!
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Old Nov 25th, 2017, 05:00 PM
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Thank you, Kavey. The trip to the art islands - which seemed so daunting to arrange - actually fell into place very easily once we were there so I hope others who may be on the fence take heart from our experience.
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Old Nov 25th, 2017, 09:01 PM
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Wonderful, I am following along with great interest as I am still researching this area.
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Old Nov 26th, 2017, 08:32 AM
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Sounds like Naoshima is getting very busy. We went there last year to see what all the fuss is about. Stayed in a little place on the harbour to the right as we got off the ferry. Don't even know the name of it and wouldn't particularly recommend it, though it was just for one night. Just a self-contained couple of rooms with bath, no food, though there are plenty of places nearby. Not at all sure if you need to stay even overnight in Naoshima to see the art stuff.

We had a car as had been travelling around Shikoku, but it isn't necessary and Naoshima is easy to get about by bike or local bus. I'm still not sure what all the hype is about. It's a nice local Japanese fishing community which has successfully marketed itself as an Art Island. I thought the prices at the Bennesse House were outrageous though there were plenty of people, I think foreign tour groups, staying there. Art was scattered around the gardens and parks, a Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin on the Shore, an expensive gift shop etc.

We arrived by ferry from Takamatsu and left next day on the same ferry. From there we got another to Shodoshima for a couple of days then through the Seto Naikai back to Kobe. That was a lovely ferry trip. There are various nearby islands doing the same thing: Ogijima, Teshima, probably others. There is a website, Setouchi Explorer, with all the latest info, run by a local Frenchman I think.

A trip here is not at all difficult to arrange and by now they are well used to tourists!
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Old Nov 26th, 2017, 03:41 PM
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Thank you,MaryW. I do think it is possible to over-research this trip. I certainly was in danger of doing so. gertie3751, we stayed two nights on Naoshima and still did not manage to see 'all the art stuff.' People obviously travel at different paces. Would be very interested to hear about your couple of days on Shodoshima which JTB pitched to us as nice downtime on a Mediterrranean type island.
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Old Nov 26th, 2017, 05:38 PM
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Monday, Art Islands: Of the Art Islands, Naoshima and Teshima are the most visited but we had set our sights on Inujima, the smallest island, the draw for us being the transformation there of a disused copper refinery into art space. Our area of London has seen similar imaginative re-use of industrial sites so we were interested to see what had been achieved. The Benesse House website is perhaps the best online resource for mapping routes between the islands but it can be confusing. The JNTO office in Marunouchi and the Travel Service Office at Tokyo Station had surprisingly little information. The Shikoku Kisen timetables which JTB had printed off for us proved most useful but it is imperative to stop in at the Information Office at the Okayama Station for the latest schedule information as there are seasonal as well as daily variations.

The easiest way to get to Inujima is via high speed passenger boat from the port of Hoden. We took the 9:17 AM train from Okayama to Saidaiji which got in at 9:42, leaving plenty of time to find the bus stop for the 10 AM departure to Nishi-Hoden. That bus arrived at 10:34, connecting to the 11 AM boat from Hoden Port (3 minute walk), arriving Inujima at 11:10. We were glad we’d bought tickets as soon as alighting from the bus because the boat was packed (only one other Western couple besides us) – but upon arrival, people seemed to magically disperse. The island is tiny and explored on foot – in our five hours on the island, we were very often completely alone.

We did however start off in a queue – first stop on Inujima is the Ticket Centre – the adult admission price of 2,060 yen gets you into the Seirensho Art Museum and all five Art Houses. There are other art sites and the ‘Life Garden’ that do not require tickets. We were advised to buy our onward tickets to Naoshima at that point as there are only two connecting hgh speed boats that afternoon.

Art is completely subjective of course but Inujima was the highlight of our trip. Architect Hiroshi Sambuichi has sunk an extraordinary museum into the 1909 copper refinery. The four interrelated spaces make a cumulative compelling impact: the Earth Gallery, an 80 meter cooling corridor, the Sun Gallery, the Energy Hall and central Chimney Hall . Yukinori Yanagi’s art works showcased in the museum evoked much more of a mixed response in us – but led to a vow to reread Yukio Mishima. We were to see more Yanagi pieces in Naoshima and without the Inujima experience we probably wouldn’t have appreciated the breadth of his art work..

How Inujima can appear almost a deserted island, given the number of passengers who disembarked with us, I don’t know but certainly this aspect made for a unique experience: exploring the different levels of the refinery, all with terrific sea views, walking through the scrubland, taking different paths through the village, stumbling upon the various Art Houses – one engages with the surroundings in a very immediate and personal way which later proved impossible on crowded Naoshima. We were fortunate in that it was a beautiful day – the experience would have been very different in poor weather. As it was, we often stopped to sit somewhere and just drink in the view. And when we stumbled on a café (I think between Art Houses C and I), we sat in the garden and drank beer (there is a craft brewery on the island) and had a light lunch of delicious pasta with salad and herbs gathered from the beds next to us. Although the Museum Café was closed that day, the café at the Ticket Center was open but we felt lucky to have found the garden café. And speaking of gardens, I enjoyed visiting the Life Garden with its 1909 greenhouse – my husband though feels only dedicated gardeners would be interested.

When planning the trip, I’d half considered taking the 1:00 boat to Ieura port on Teshima, then travelling on to Naoshima on the 3:55 boat. But in retrospect, this would have been crazy, not allowing enough time at either place, plus the fact that Teshima is a much bigger island, so one has to factor in getting from port to the actual art sites. We ended up taking the 3:20 high speed boat from Inujima, a much bigger craft than we’d taken from Hoden.. At the brief stop in Teshima, we were surprised at the number of foreign tourists who crowded on, obviously returning from a day trip over from Naoshima (where all museums save for Benesse House are closed on Monday). As we travelled on to the ‘big island’ amidst the chatter of so many different languages, it was obvious that a very different experience lay in store.
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Old Nov 29th, 2017, 05:47 PM
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In hopes that some are still following along:

Naoshima, Lodging and Food: We arrived on the 4:17 PM boat into Miyanoura, the port on the south coast. The disembarking crowd immediately split into two obvious groups – those staying at Benesse House made a bee line for their shuttle while the rest of us gathered at r the local town bus stop. A few headed over to the bicycle rental place on the other side of the road but finding it closed (Monday closures?) soon joined the bus stop group. We had sent our bag on from Tokyo by Takkyubin but others were laden down with luggage which made for a very crowded little bus. (Forgot to say that while there are no lockers at Inujima port, there are some in the Museum, once tickets have been purchased.)

We had booked at the Oomiyake Guest House, a 400 year old ‘cultural property in the heart of Honmura, the secondary port on the north coast. The complex of buildings around a large courtyard garden includes a suite of Japanese rooms and a modern ‘apartment’. Descriptions of Oomiyake online are confusingly contradictory but wanting a clean, well located room with private bathroom and heat, we booked the western apartment.
The room easily sleeps four and is priced accordingly at 1200 yen per night. Contradictory to the Lonely Planet description, there is a wifi in the room. When we were out and about the next day, I noted two guest houses we’d also considered. On the map, both had appeared quite central but in fact turned out to be off by themselves, nowhere near as convenient as Oomiyake for the art houses, bus stop or eating places.

Although the Oomiyake website indicates meals must be requested 24 hours in advance, when we realised that evening that there was no place nearby to buy any provisions, adding breakfast on for 800 yen per person was easily done.. This was served at the little table on the veranda overlooking the garden. two eggs and bacon (omelette and sausages the second morning) with toast, croissant, salad and good coffee.

Meals were actually a bit of a concern at the trip planning stage. Note we were travelling off-season – the summer scene is probably very different and during the Setouchi Triennale, there is obviously no shortage of places to eat. But in mid November, places serving food seem to do so on a whim. That evening Miyake-san called around to find someplace open for us. Again, Monday closures might have been a factor here. A new ‘shokudo’ (casual restaurant/cafeteria) had opened just a few days previously and he sent us off to it via a 6 minute walk along the very dark coast road.

The brightly lit room with open kitchen was presided over by a very smiley, welcoming woman. Photos of the three meals on offer that evening were pinned to the wall . Grilled fish for me, kushikatsu for husband with rice, miso, pickles salad and a slice of fruit with both came to around 800 yen each. It was simple, tasty and filling. The only other western diner was a young woman solo backpacker staying in the Honmura hostel . She had wandered the dark streets, finding everything shut up tight and had worried that she wouldn’t find any place to eat that night. Her tale made us appreciate all the more how useful it was to have Oomiyake-san point us in the right direction.

Our new friend was after some night life and wanted to head to Miyanoura where she’d heard more was going on. We checked the schedule and found that while she could get a bus over, she’d be facing a 40 minute walk back . She still seemed keen but the restaurant owner said very firmly that there would be nothing open in Miyanoura on Monday night. A group of young Japanese at the next table chimed in to confirm this. They seemed quite amused at the notion of any nightlife on the island. So whether the bright lights of Miyanoura were a myth or not, our young friend walked back to Honmura with us.

To finish up on the subject of meals – the next night we booked dinner at a restaurant listed in one of the brochures picked up that day. But on hearing this, Miyake-san raised his eyebrows and said we could do better. He knew we wanted sashimi and said the place we’d selected was run by someone who used to manage the Oomiyake coffee shop (closed? Open only during high season?). So he had us cancel the reservation and steered us instead to a place just down the road where we sat on tatami mats and had excellent sashimi moriawase for 1500 yen each. We were pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive food was on the island – it would not have been surprising to find inflated prices, given the lack of choice.

Next (if anyone is still reading!): a full day of art and do we wish we’d stayed at Benesse House?
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Old Nov 29th, 2017, 11:47 PM
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I am definitely following and have been watching for your posts. They are both very interesting and helpful.

I am really looking forward to the rest so please keep going. So little comes up about Naoshima in detail so its just great to read your report. Also I hadn't looked at Inujima yet but it sounds very interesting.
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Old Nov 30th, 2017, 07:52 AM
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I'm reading as well...did a day trip to Naoshima a few years back from Takamatsu...always interesting to read about the less traveled places in Japan. Thanks!
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Old Nov 30th, 2017, 08:06 AM
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Hello again Boveney.

Just read all that and I was a bit surprised that Oomiyake was so cheap. Did you miss off a 0?
And the islands sound much busier than when we were there in May 2016, though November tends to be tourist season in Japan. Was the Trienniale on?

Yes, your pace was much slower than ours...lol... though we were getting back to Kobe and didn't want to miss that nice ferry trip.

In Shodoshima we stayed in Kokuminshukusha, a government-run hotel, catering for local people often in groups! It was high up on the coast with lovely sea views, outside Tonosho. And delicious food, dinner and breakfast. Entirely Japanese, don't think any English is spoken and there were no other gaijin there.

We pottered about round the island, stopping in forests to stroll, along the coast to admire the views, seaside villages to sit and look, some little local museums.
There is an '88 Temples Pilgrimage Route' though not as well-known as the one on Shikoku.

JTB is about right to describe it as a 'down time' island and good for relaxing. Olive growing is the main industry. You can visit the olive groves, sample the delights and buy lots of omiyage.
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Old Nov 30th, 2017, 03:23 PM
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lol...didn't notice the 1200 JPY - I was just looking on booking.com and I think a zero was missing. I never realized there were quite a few little inns on Naoshima - after reading these reports would definitely think of staying there and having a chance to visit the other islands. Thanks!
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Old Nov 30th, 2017, 04:28 PM
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Definitely left off a zero! Apologies: Oomiyake room cost 12,000 yen per night. There were cheaper options but the filthiest place we have ever stayed was a minshuku on another Setouchi island so I was hoping by paying a bit more we'd avoid a repeat.

Mary W and Mara, glad to hear the report is helpful. Gertie, thanks for your comments. November was off season, certainly when compared to May, when you visited. This is not a koyo spot. Maybe the difference in tourist numbers was simply that it's one year on and the word is continuing to get out?

Will finish up report - two days left to cover. Thanks again, everyone for comments.
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Old Dec 1st, 2017, 06:39 PM
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NAOSHIMA

First, to clear up a misconception posted upthread, Naoshima is not ‘a local Japanese fishing community’. It may have been in the past but by the mid-1970s, as the Japan Times puts it, “the beautiful Inland Sea had become a “Sea of Death” due to the dumping of poisonous chemicals and industrial waste into its waters.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/20.../#.WiCl8Epl82w Hence my Japanese friend’s description of Naoshima as ‘the rubbish island.’ Any fishing community died out long ago. Mitsubishi Materials however continues as the major industry, operating on Naoshima since 1917. The ‘factory area’ is marked on local maps as NO ADMITTANCE except for prearranged tours, but the refinery is clearly visible from the ferry coming from Teshima. The Benesse Corporation’s investment in building museums and art spaces on the island in effect gave it a new lease of life.

As Naoshima is not a small island, getting around entirely on foot is not an option. We had hoped to escape the tyranny of bus schedules by relying on cycles but heavy rain forced us to revise that plan.. The Benesse House museum shuttle stop was easily walkable from Oomiyake Guest House but given the weather, we took the small town bus (100 yen) which connects to the BH Museum shuttle. This is free and available to all, as opposed to the BH shuttle from the ports which is limited to guests. (Note – there is another town bus which is available to Naoshima residents only.) Faced with the rain and as we’d scored a seat on the crowded BH shuttle, we stayed on until the final stop: the Chichu Art Museum (admission 2,060 yen).

This proved the highlight of the island for us: the fusion of Tadao Ando’s architecture, the landscape and the art itself (of which there are only three pieces) is a triumph. The Museum had good sturdy umbrellas which could be picked up and deposited at the various doorways – definitely useful when ducking in and out of the building, exploring passages inside and out, following internal and external staircases. As to the actual art, well the James Turrell struck me as pretentious, the Monet water lilies were not his best and the experience of having to don slippers to preserve the white floor seemed absurd, but the site-specific Walter de Maria was sublime and justified the entire trip for me. (I don’t for a minute expect agreement on this!)

The BH museum paled in comparison, offering a more standard experience. (Admission 1,030 yen though free for those staying at BH) It was here though that we first noticed what can only be described as an unpleasantly officious attitude on part of the staff. Approaching BH, a young man tried to take a photograph from outside the gates and a Museum staff person instantly shot out and reprimanded him. Later a similar attitude was apparent at some of the Art Houses, nothing major, just a bit of heavy handedness in policing the art which jarred slightly - which I duly noted on the feedback forms (available at all the sites).

Luckily the rain had cleared when we finished at BH – so it was an easy walk downhill back to Honmura. The BH map marks this as taking 10-15 minutes on foot but it also lists 16 open-air works on the way (21 total in this part of the island). Stopping to see maybe 5 works, the walk took us far longer so by the time we reached the village, we headed directly to the Art Houses (multi-site ticket 1,030 yen.) We visited five of the six before calling it a day. The experience of wandering through the little village to find the various houses offered a totally different experience to viewing the art that morning at the ‘Starchitect’ museums. Everyone will respond differently to the Naoshima art experience so any critique here seems pointless.

There was a small shop just down the main road from Oomiyake so we bought some beers and sembei for the room. The shop had been closed the previous evening – I didn’t spot any breakfast makings (yogurt, bread, fruit) but perhaps I missed them. Or perhaps they’d sold out. The shop did though stock the best throat lozenges ever: quince and ginger….

So, we’d had a full day of art – but had missed out one Art House, the Lee Ufan Museum, the Ando Museum and the entire Miyanoura Area. Our shinkansen back to Tokyo the next day left Okayama around 5 PM so we still had the possibility of exploring Naoshima further or venturing to Teshima.

But to return to the question: did we wish we’d stayed at BH? I’d cancelled our one night there thinking it was too much of a pain to move places but if space had opened up the second night, would we have grabbed it? My husband would answer a resounding No. My answer would be more of a ‘hmm, maybe.’ Yes, it is expensive but that wasn’t the issue. (In September we had paid more for a room at the Best Western Takayama when we had decided on the spur of the moment to go to the festival and the only hotel with availability was able to charge extortionate prices.)

At BH it is the breakfast and dinner prices which jacks the total up – and while one could skip breakfast, I for one wouldn’t want to miss dinner. BH is off by itself –it was the sense of being held prisoner that my husband objected to - that and what he’d seen of the already noted unfortunate attitude on the part of some of the BH staff. I agreed with all that but was tempted by the chance to stay in a significant building – an experience my husband didn’t rate at all. Another draw is that guests of BH have access to the museum out of hours – but having seen the set up I realize this probably applies only to the guests at the main building (10 rooms? number extrapolated from the website) and the Oval (connected by monorail - 6 rooms?). But the majority of rooms are actually at the offsite facilities: BH Park (41 rooms?) and BH Beach (8 rooms?). So I remain baffled as to the logistics of getting from Park and Beach to the main museum after hours.

But in as much as the Naoshima experience seems to have been designed with a stay at BH in mind, I would be open to splurging on a room at the main building or Oval….If the staff promised to lighten up a bit….and if there was availability in the Japanese rather than the French restaurant. Let me say that friends who had stayed at BH Park for two nights a couple of months prior to us had indicated they were very happy with the experience.

Next: final day. Arted out.
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Old Dec 1st, 2017, 11:33 PM
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Still reading, still enjoying, still appreciating all the detail. <3
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Old Dec 3rd, 2017, 03:50 AM
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Thank you, Kavey, you've encouraged me to finish up. Not much left to tell.

Bitchu Takahashi: Leaving the islands for the ‘castle in the sky’


On our final day, we admitted we were ‘arted out’ – there was still a lot on Naoshima we hadn’t yet seen and we were especially sorry to skip a visit to Teshima. But as a ferry goes between there and Shodoshima, the olive island, we decided maybe optimistically to save those two for a later trip.

So we changed plans completely and set out for Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, the 13th century ‘castle north of Okayama. Miyake-san gave us a ride to Miyanoura port where we caught the 9:52 ferry to Uno (20 minute ride). It was then a three minute walk to the station to pick up the 10:26 train to Okayama, arriving at 11:30 after a change at Chayamachi. We stowed our luggage and then rode another train for about an hour to Bitchu Takahashi.

Arriving, it was easy to find the Tourist Information Office, attached to the station but housed within the local library. (We are so impressed by the libraries in Japan – especially against the backdrop of so many closures in the UK. The Takayama library is particularly magnificent.) The Info Office lady telephoned a local shuttle-taxi for us and one other passenger at a cost of 500 yen. The short ride took us through the ‘historical area’, and the driver pointed out enough sights that convinced us we should walk back for a closer view.

The hike to the castle is about 20 minutes up a steep path through forest. In mid-November, the autumn colours were blazing. Although the Michelin Green Guide gives the castle a star , there were no other western tourists though we did run into a French group in town. The castle offered lots of photo opportunities but the true highlight of the stopover was the Raikyuji Zen garden back in Bitchu Takahashi. It was both stunning and completely deserted, allowing some quiet contemplation, something that has eluded us on every visit to the Kyoto temple gardens. So our short trip ended as it began – in a garden.

Best part of the trip: Inujima. Worst part: being told what to do and what not to do by the BH staff on Naoshima. That said, we wouldn’t have skipped Naoshima for the world. It is a thoroughly fascinating experience.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2017, 04:35 AM
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Thanks for such an informative report. Its great to have both information and impressions of an area that doesn't get great coverage. I have looked at most of the information about Naoshima and the other islands that I have found but your impressions have helped greatly to round out the feel of them.

I had ruled out a stay at BH mainly due to price and was considering a couple of day trips from Kojima which would eat into the days but will look again at staying a night or two instead.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2017, 04:59 PM
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MaryW, looks like it's only about 40 minutes from Kojima to Uno by train via Chayamachi, so Naoshima is perfectly doable. A car probably makes things even easier. But if you want to visit the other islands, it gets more complicated and in that case takes more than a day trip. I hope you post your impressions of the Denim Town after your visit!
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Old Dec 3rd, 2017, 05:20 PM
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What a great report! Thanks for all the detail and, as Mary noted above, for offering insight into a place that is hard to find good information on. I luckily encountered it today and had a good read through all your posts.

Three of us will be in Naoshima for 2 nights in mid-April as part of a month-long trip to Japan (we've been there several times so are now delving into what we assume are less-visited areas). We had really wanted to stay at one of the yurts by the sea, but they were fully booked on the day that reservations opened (six months in advance) and have not shown any cancellations since. So we cast around and found basic accommodations at Minshuku Seasons 2 fairly near where you stayed. On reading your report I canceled our reservation and switched to Oomiyake--a little more expensive but looks much nicer, and well located. Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

We are looking forward to visiting the "art island." Your descriptions picqued our interest and will definitely help with planning.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2017, 06:24 PM
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Thank you very much for such an in-depth TR. I had similar issues concerning lodging when looking at lodging, so I finally gave up and skipped Naoshima. I was so tempted though. Just didn’t feel like I could justify BH’s prices, and I think I’d lean more towards your husband’s view. Good to know that about the main building vs. other buildings after hour access practicality, it’s not something that really popped up when I was researching. Very interesting to hear your Japanese friend’s perspective! I knew about the industrial pollution, but not really much about how or why it became a tourist destination. It was popping up everywhere last summer on social media, probably because there was a Yayoi Kusama exhibit at SAM.

Kurashiki is more interesting when the shops and museums are open. The highlight for me was the toy museum and if I remember correctly, the Washi tape places.
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