Honmura (本村), a small port town on Naoshima's eastern coast, is home to the Art House Project, 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.
The art houses are scattered throughout town, and most of them are unassuming from the street, blending into the surrounding traditional Japanese neighborhood. The interior of each, however, has been given over to artists to convert into whatever suits their artistic vision.
Below is a list of the art houses in Honmura:
Main artist: Miyajima Tatsuo
Kadoya is a 200 year, restored residence with a traditional storehouse. Artworks on display include a LED display set in a pool of water, a window turned into a digital display and an unconventional Japanese scroll painting.
Architecture by Ando Tadao, Artwork by James Turrell
Minamidera, built on the former site of a temple, is a new structure designed by Ando Tadao, the star architect who also designed the art museums on Naoshima. Inside is James Turrell's "Backside of the Moon", an intriguing art piece that plays with your perception of light.
Designed by Sugimoto Hiroshi
Go'o Shrine is a old Shintoshrine that has been restored with a modern makeover. An optical glass staircase leads from the worship hall to an underground chamber that represents the unity of heaven and earth. Visitors may enter the underground chamber from a narrow side entrance.
Artwork by Senju Hiroshi
Ishibashi was originally built around 100 years ago as the home of a prosperous salt merchant. It has since been restored and houses two large paintings by Senju Hiroshi. One is painted onto the sliding doors of the main building, while the other, a large painting depicting a spectacular waterfall, hangs in the adjacent storehouse.
Artwork by Suda Yoshihiro
Gokaisho was built on the site of a gathering place where people came to play go, a type of Japanese chess. A traditionally designed building holds hand carved wooden camellia flowers arranged on the tatami mat floors. The rooms overlook a small garden with real camellia flowers to contrast with the wooden creations.
Artwork by Otake Shinro
Haisha is the former home and office of a local dentist that has been converted into a gallery for large sculptures, some of which can be viewed from different floors of the two storied house. The artworks include a replica of the Statue of Liberty. Otake also designed the I Love Yu bath house.
Designed by Naito Rei
Kinza is a small, 200 year old house that has been converted into an artwork of traditional building design and craftsmanship. Located next door to the Gokaisho, Kinza can only be viewed from Thursday to Sunday with advance reservations. Visitors enter the building one person at a time for up to 15 minutes.
The Honmura Lounge, a few steps from the bus stop in the center of town, serves as an archive and information center for the Art House Project. Here you can find material on the artists and architects involved with the projects as well as information on the various art houses. Not part of the Art House Project, but also found among the traditional buildings of Honmura Town is the Ando Museum.
Getting there and around
There are one or two buses per hour from Miyanoura Ferry Terminal bound for Tsutsujiso that stop at the Nokyo-mae bus stop in Honmura (5 minutes, 100 yen) along the way. Alternatively, it is a 2.5 kilometer bicycle ride (10 minutes) or walk (35-45 minutes) from the Miyanoura Ferry Terminal. Honmura has also its own port with ferry connections to Uno Port on Honshu (20 minutes, 300 yen, five round trips per day).