Teshima (豊島) is a rural island in the Seto Inland Sea that joined the nearby islands of Naoshima and Inujima to become an exciting destination for contemporary art in recent years. The island also serves as one of the venues of the Setouchi Triennale art festival that is held once every three years in the region.
The main attraction on Teshima is the Teshima Art Museum, one of the most intriguing contemporary artworks in Japan. Standing amongst terraced rice fields, the simple concrete structure stimulates its visitors' senses with the play of water drops on a concrete surface. Several more artworks are scattered around the island's three fishing villages. Most are open almost everyday, especially the larger museums and outdoor installations, however some of the smaller artworks are only open on weekends and holidays.
Another permanent artwork on the island is Les Archives du Coeur ("Heart Archives"), located in a small building along the beach in the eastern outskirts of Karato. It is one of multiple locations across the world where visitors can make recordings of their heartbeat and listen to the recorded heartbeats of other people in a slightly spooky environment. The same French artist, Christian Boltanski, also created The Last Class at the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale.
Teshima is the region's second largest island after Shodoshima. A forested mountain stands in its middle, and a circular road connects its three small fishing villages. Two of the villages have ferry ports, Karato and Ieura, the latter of which is the more important. A half to a full day is needed to explore the peaceful island with its slow-paced atmosphere and rural landscape. Dining, shopping and lodging choices are limited, but note that one artwork, the Shima Kitchen in Karato, also serves as a restaurant.
Without previous knowledge, visitors will not notice that Teshima once made news due to a toxic waste scandal in the 1980s in which a company illegally dumped hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic waste on the western tip of the island. Cleanup efforts were finally completed in 2017.
Getting to Teshima
Teshima is served by two ferry lines. One runs between Teshima's Ieura Port and Takamatsu with some ferries stopping at Honmura Port on Naoshima along the way. The second runs between Uno Port in Okayama and Shodoshima, making stops at both Ieura and Karato Ports on Teshima along the way.
Teshima Ferry operates high speed boats between Takamatsu and Ieura Port on Teshima. A small number of these ferries also stop at Naoshima along the way. The one way trip takes 35 minutes and costs 1350 yen. There are five round trips per day when the Teshima Art Museum is open and three round trips a per day on days the museum is closed.
Some of the Teshima Ferries between Takamatsu and Teshima (Ieura Port) stop at Honmura Port on Naoshima along the way. The one way trip between Naoshima and Teshima takes 20 minutes and costs 630 yen.
Take the JR Uno Line from Okayama to Uno Station. There are direct trains in the early mornings, late afternoons and evenings. Outside of those times, a transfer is required at Chayamachi Station along the way. The one way trip takes about 45 minutes and costs 590 yen.
Shodoshima Ferry operates car ferries between Uno Port and Tonosho Port on Shodoshima approximately every two hours, most of which make stops at Ieura and Karato Ports on Teshima along the way. The trip from Uno to Ieura Port takes 40 minutes and costs 780 yen per person or about 5000 yen for a regular sized car. The trip from Uno to Karato Port takes about an additional 20 minutes and costs 1050 yen per person or around 6000 yen for a regular sized car.
The ferry ride from Shodoshima to Karato Port on Teshima takes 20 minutes and costs 490 yen per person or about 4000 yen for a regular sized car. To Ieura Port it takes an additional 15 minutes and costs 780 yen per person or about 5000 yen for a regular sized car.
Getting around Teshima
Two shuttle bus lines connects Ieura Port to the other villages and ports around the island. One line operates between Ieura Port and Ko Village (every 2-3 hours) while the other operates between Ieura and Karato ports via the Teshima Art Museum (every 1-2 hours). The buses cost a flat 200 yen per ride.
Alternatively, rental bicycles are available at Ieura and Karato Port for 1000 yen for the first four hours and make for a pleasant way to explore the island. Good walkers might even consider walking between the island's villages, which are less than an hour apart from each other.