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Home - Travel - Sightseeing Guide
Setouchi Triennale 2013

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The next Setouchi Triennale is expected to take place in 2016.

Caution
Some of the information on this page applies only to the 2013 festival period, especially the sections about the artworks, admission and transportation.

The Setouchi Triennale (also known as the Setouchi International Art Festival) is a contemporary art festival held every three years on a dozen islands in the Seto Inland Sea (Setonaikai), the sea which separates Honshu and Shikoku, two of Japan's main islands. It was first held in 2010.

Contemporary art has gained a prominent position in the region in recent decades thanks to various art projects by the Benesse Corporation on the island of Naoshima and more recently on the islands of Inujima and Teshima, all of which also serve as festival venues. The Setouchi Triennale is intended to further strengthen the region's position as a leading site for contemporary art and to spread the art to additional islands.

Teshima sense
(Teshima, 2010)
A Town Between the Sky and the Sea
(Ogijima, 2010)

Like many rural parts of Japan, the islands in the Seto Inland Sea have been suffering from massive depopulation in recent decades, while their remaining residents have been aging at a rapid pace, causing a wide range of problems. One of the festival's main goals is to counteract these trends and revitalize the region in a sustainable and creative way by bringing contemporary art and tourism onto the islands.

Visitors to the region will be charmed not only by the intriguing art but also by the laid back, slow paced rural atmosphere of the islands' villages and the beauty of the island scenery. In many ways the festival resembles the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, a similar art festival, which is held every three years in a rural mountainous area of Niigata Prefecture.

Farther Memory
(Teshima, 2010)

The Art

During the festival, nearly 150 artworks by artists from Japan and overseas were exhibited on the twelve islands and around the ports of Takamatsu and Uno in addition to a considerable number of museums and art sites already in existence, including several permanent art installations from the 2010 festival. Much of the artwork will remain standing even after the end of the festival, justifying a visit to the area at any time of the year.

The artworks are found across the islands. Some of them stand outdoors in the fields, along the coast or in villages. Others make use of the numerous old homes which have been left abandoned due to the depopulation. The buildings are employed as exhibition spaces or have been converted into artworks themselves. In addition, there are the established museums and art sites on Naoshima, Inujima and Teshima islands.

Lee Ufan Museum
(Naoshima)
Momo's Game and Victory of the Naked Peach
(Megijima, 2010)

The Islands

A total of twelve islands and the ports of Takamatsu and Uno served as venues for the 2013 art festival. Among them were five island venues west of the Seto Ohashi Bridge that were newly added for the 2013 festival.

Naoshima (more info)
Spring, Summer and Autumn
Nearly 20 artworks and museums take at least a full day to see
From Takamatsu: Hourly ferries (25-50 minutes, 510-1200 yen one way)
In the last few decades Naoshima has been transformed into an art island featuring the excellent Chichu Museum, Benesse Art House, Lee Ufan Museum and Art House Project. Packed with art, easy to get around and well connected, this is the place to go if you have the time to visit just one island.

Shodoshima (more info)
Spring, Summer and Autumn
Almost 30 artworks take at least one day to see
From Takamatsu: Frequent ferries (30-60 minutes, 670-1140 yen one way)
The largest island participating in the festival, Shodoshima has many artworks found across multiple locations across the island. It takes at least a day to see the art, plus an additional day if you want to check out the rest of the island.

Inujima (more info)
Spring, Summer and Autumn
Nine artworks and a museum take about half a day to see.
From Takamatsu: No direct ferry. Travel via Naoshima or Teshima (1200-1800 yen)
Inujima is slightly difficult to access, but well worth the effort. The Seirensho art project, built into the ruins of an old copper refinery, is one of the festival's most noteworthy pieces. Eight smaller artworks can be found around the island's small village.

Megijima (more info)
Spring, Summer and Autumn
About a dozen artworks take about half a day to see
From Takamatsu: Hourly ferries (20 minutes, 360 yen one way)
Megijima, the legendary Onigashima from the Momotaro story, offers several artworks around the small, stone walled fishing village next to the ferry terminal. Two more artworks are found near the peak of the island's tallest mountain.

Ogijima (more info)
Spring, Summer and Autumn
Over 15 artworks around the harbor town take about half a day to see
From Takamatsu: Hourly ferries (40 minutes, 500 yen one way)
The artworks on Ogijima are scattered around the charming fishing village build on the hillside overlooking the ferry port. All the sites are within a short walk of the ferry terminal and can be seen in a few hours.

Teshima (more info)
Spring, Summer and Autumn
Around 15 artworks spread around the island require a full day to see
From Takamatsu: 4-5 ferries per day (35-50 minutes, 1300 yen one way)
Artworks are concentrated in the four villages found on the island and connected with each other by buses. One of the main sites on the island is the Teshima Art Museum.

Oshima
Spring, Summer and Autumn
Art gallery and cafe can be seen in 2-3 hours
From Takamatsu: Four daily ferries (25 minutes, free)
The small island of Oshima off the coast of Takamatsu serves as a treatment center and community for sufferers of Hansen's Disease. In a collaboration project between artists, hospitals and residents, an old dormitory was transformed into an art gallery.

Takamatsu Port (more info)
Spring, Summer and Autumn
About ten artworks can be seen in half a day
Direct ferry connections to all islands except Inujima and the western islands
Takamatsu Port is the most convenient base for exploring the Setouchi Triennale, as it serves as the regional transportation hub and offers a wide range of accommodation and dining options. Most of the artworks are found in the attractively redeveloped Sunport Takamatsu district along the waterfront.

Uno Port
Spring, Summer and Autumn
Ten artworks can be seen in a couple of hours
Uno Port is the most convenient entry point to the festival's eastern island venues when approaching the region from Okayama, offering ferry connections to Naoshima, Teshima, Shodoshima and Takamatsu. The port town has a few art pieces on its own that are all within walking distance from both Uno Station and Uno Port.

Below follow the five newly added venues west of the Seto Ohashi Bridge:

Shamijima (more info)
Spring Only
Eight artworks take about half a day to see
20 minute bus ride from Sakaide Station
Originally a tiny island just off the coast, Shamijima was connected to Shikoku by reclaimed land in 1967 and later became one of the endpoints of the Seto Ohashi Bridge. The small area offers several artworks, the Higashiyama Kaii Setouchi Art Museum, a museum commemorating the bridge's construction, an observation tower, parks, beaches and a small fishing village.

Ibukijima (more info)
Summer Only
Eight artworks take about half a day to see
Six ferries per day from Kanonji Port (35 minutes, 620 yen one way)
The westernmost of the participating islands, Ibukijima has a thriving fishing industry as the country's top producer of sardines and anchovies. The small island only measures about one square kilometer and is covered by a nice fishing village. Several artworks are scattered throughout the town.

Honjima (more info)
Autumn Only
Nine artworks and other attractions take a half to a full day to see
Hourly ferries from Marugame Port (20-35 minutes, 530 yen one way)
Six ferries per day from Kojima Port (30 minutes, 620 yen)
The largest of the newly participating islands, Honjima has a few interesting historical sites besides the artworks. While most of the artwork is located around the main port, a beautifully preserved Edo Period port town lies in the island's northeast. The island can be explored on foot, by bus or by rental bicycle.

Takamijima (more info)
Autumn Only
About a dozen artworks take about half a day to see
Five daily ferries from Tadotsu Port (25 minutes, 480 yen one way)
The artworks around Takamijima can be found around the island's only town which is suffering the effects of depopulation, as many abandoned houses can be seen along the hillslope of the northern side of town. The peaceful port town is now home to more cats than humans.

Awashima (more info)
Autumn Only
Over a dozen artworks take about half a day to see
Eight daily ferries from Suda Port (15 minutes, 320 yen one way)
Three daily ferries from Miyanoshita Port (1 hour, 670 yen one way)
During the Meiji Period, Awashima was the site of a sailor academy whose buildings have been preserved and opened to the public. The artworks are concentrated in the island's main town that is directly served by the ferries from Suda Port. A few beaches, hiking trails and viewpoints can also be visited around the island.

Admission

Passports for the autumn session cost 4500 yen and can be purchased on the day at information centers on each island or Takamatsu or Uno Port. A 3-session passport was available until April 21, 2013.

Passport holders can see each of the festival's artworks once within the festival period, including some of the established art museums on Naoshima (Benesse House, Lee Ufan Museum, Art House Project) and Inujima (Seirensho, Art House Project). Among the sites not covered by the passport are the I Love Yu bath and Chichu Museum on Naoshima and the Teshima Art Museum, although passport holders qualify for a discount on admission to the latter two museums.

Passport

Alternatively, it is possible to pay for separate admission to each artwork. The typical cost is 300 or 500 yen per site, except for the Chichu Museum, Benesse House, Lee Ufan Museum, Naoshima Art House Project, Inujima Seirensho and the Teshima Art Museum for which the admission fee is between 1000 and 2000 yen each.

Hours

While outdoor artworks generally can be seen at any time of the day, most indoor artworks are open between 10:00 and 17:00. Some works have longer or shorter hours. While the majority of artworks can be viewed on all days during the festival, a few of them are closed one day a week.

Harmonica
(Teshima, 2010)
Sea Gull's Parking Lot
(Megijima, 2010)

Getting there

The festival sites can be approached from many directions. The most convenient base for visiting the festival is Takamatsu (how to get to Takamatsu). When coming from the Tokyo or Osaka area, travel via Uno Port, accessed from Okayama (how to get to Okayama), can be faster. Furthermore, there are direct ferries from several ports on Honshu to Shodoshima, the largest of the participating islands (how to get to Shodoshima).

Getting around

A dense network of ferry lines connects the islands. To accommodate the increased traffic during the festival a few temporary lines are operated and service is increased on several of the existing lines.

The smaller islands, such as Inujima, Ogijima and Oshima, can be explored entirely on foot, while the larger islands are served by simple bus networks, except Shodoshima whose bus network is quite extensive. Rental bicycles are also available on many of the islands. Car rental is an option on Shodoshima.

Please see each island's page for more details about access and transportation:
     - Naoshima
     - Shodoshima
     - Teshima
     - Inujima
     - Megijima
     - Ogijima
     - Shamijima
     - Honjima
     - Takamijima
     - Awashima
     - Ibukijima

During the festival, several passes are offered that cover ferry, train and/or bus travel around the festival area. Some of the better ones include:

  • Ferry Pass (2 consecutive days, 4000 yen)
    A pass for unlimited use of most ferries east of the Seto Ohashi Bridge on two consecutive days is available for 4000 yen per person. The pass is relatively expensive compared to single tickets and only pays off if used extensively. The pass's main advantage is convenience, as holders do not need to buy single tickets for each ride. One disadvantage is that regular ticket holders will get priority over pass holders should a ferry happen to be full.

  • Setouchi Art Free Pass (2 consecutive days, 2000 yen)
    This pass includes unlimited travel on local JR trains between Okayama, Kurashiki, Uno, Takamatsu, Kanonji, Kotohira and Yashima. Buses from Okayama to Uno, Hoden and Shin-Okayama Ports are also included. The pass can be purchased at major JR stations in Okayama and Shikoku.

  • Okayama Kagawa Art Round Trip Ticket (2 consecutive days, 9,000 to 20,000 yen)
    This pass combines a shinkansen round trip from a major city in western Japan (including Osaka, Kyoto or Fukuoka) with unlimited travel on local JR trains between Okayama, Kurashiki, Uno, Takamatsu, Kanonji, Kotohira and Yashima. Buses between Okayama and Uno Port are also included, but buses to Hoden and Shin-Okayama Ports are not. The price varies depending on where you travel from.

Where to stay?

The city of Takamatsu on Shikoku is the transportation and information hub of the Setouchi Triennale. It is also the most convenient base for exploring the festival, offering a wide range of accommodation. Its attractive port area serves as one of the festival venues, exhibiting a small number of art works.

Among the islands, Naoshima and Shodoshima are both well connected by ferries and come with a considerable number of lodgings, while the smaller islands (Megijima, Ogijima, Oshima, Inujima and Teshima) offer only very limited accommodation facilities, although most of them have a handful of family run ryokan or minshuku. The Benesse House on Naoshima is noteworthy in that it double serves as art facility and accommodation.

The Benesse House complex on Naoshima consists of four separate buildings with guest rooms

How much time is required?

The Setouchi Triennale is spread out among twelve islands and two ports, and seeing everything would take at least a week. As a rule of thumb, the larger islands take each a full day to see, while the smaller islands can each be seen in half a day. Note also that ferry connections between some of the islands are infrequent, which can result in a forced slow down of the travel pace.

How is the weather?

During July, August and parts of September, it is usually very hot in the Seto Inland Sea region, with daytime temperatures of over 30 degrees and a high humidity. In order to avoid hyperthermia it is recommended to travel at a slow pace, make frequent breaks and drink a lot of liquids. The temperatures during the spring and autumn sessions are more comfortable.

Some of the artworks double serve as cafes or restaurants: Shima Kitchen (Teshima)

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English Links
Setouchi Triennale
Official English website.

Japanese Links
Setouchi Triennale
Official website.

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