Transit to Naoshima
Our transit to Naoshima from Osaka was the most complex transit endeavour for this trip. It involved two local trains, a bullet train leg, followed by another local train leg, ending with a boat ride to Naoshima. Not all train stations have lifts, so our suitcases did need carrying up and down stairs. Annoying and unexpected, but manageable.
It was my first time on the bullet train, and I did enjoy the experience. Everything is so well run. They manage to move so many people so far and so fast. The trains are comfortable. They travel upwards of 300km/h, and yet maintain a smoothness far exceeding the entire Singapore MRT network.
I didn't take many pictures here, as I was mainly making sure I didn't miss any stops.
Thus began our first island of our Setouchi Triennale experience. We did see a LOT of art, and a lot of the good ones didn't allow photos inside.
First off though, we had arrived at Naoshima at around 2pm, and needed a place to store our suitcases till check in time. Cue the friendly neighbourhood TVC. Right in front of the port. Stores bags at 500JPY a piece till 6pm. Take note if you are planning to stay on Naoshima, and intend to arrive ahead of check in time, or if you are checking out and need to store bags until your ferry out.
Before consuming art, we had to consume food.
Yuunagi was just beside TVC, and they have really good flounder. I am very partial towards sashimi over fried fish, but their fried flounder is their signature dish, and it is definitely at least on par with their flounder sashimi.
Chichu Art Museum
Chichu Art Museum was our first on our list of arty things to see, and it did not disapppoint us at all. It might disappoint you because they did not allow pictures inside, so you will have to make do with this nice picture of the sign outside.
The architecture of the museum is gorgeous, and the sea view from it is breathtaking. Chichu Art Museum is open even outside of Triennale, and is a good reason to go to Naoshima any time. This place is awesome enough that I would actually come to Naoshima again just for it.
Lapket, the Naoshima lap cat
One highlight of the day was the Naoshima lap cat, whom I have christened Lapket. While waiting for our reservation time for entry into Chichu, I was having a snack outside the waiting room when Lapket
- walks past lady
- brushes tail against lady
- keeps on walking towards me
- lies down beside me
- basks in lady's surprise and my smugness
Lapket did not attempt to steal or beg for food, and was simply content to get body scritches and hugs.
New Olympia Sushi
This was easily one of the best places to eat on Naoshima. It definitely was my favourite.
The sashimi set was amazing at 1500Y, with really fresh fish, nice soup and salads, and some rice to complement things. The fried octopus was 1600Y. It costed more than the sashimi set, and was worth it. Super fresh octopus, battered perfectly, fried till crispy, but still tender and juicy. So so good.
Awesome Takoyaki stall
Right between Yuunagi and TVC is たこ焼きふうちゃん, which I will henceforth refer to as Awesome Naoshima Takoyaki (ANT). ANT has really good takoyaki. They make it fresh, the octopus is fresh (octopus is somewhat of a staple and specialty in the Setouchi region). Really delightful. There was a hilarious miscommunication on wanting to use our own packaging, but that just added to the experience.
Our accomodations on Naoshima was Moegi-so. A 2 minute walk from the Miyanoura port, which is great for 3 reasons
- You don't have to carry luggage very far from the port when you come to Naoshima
- You can easily get to and from the port as you do day trips from Naoshima to other islands
- You don't have to carry luggage very far to the port when you depart Naoshima
The rooms are a really nice tatami style, and are very comfortable. Everything was extremely clean. The bathroom has cat wallpaper. Walls are on the thin side, but everyone was really considerate with regards to noise levels, so this wasn't an issue for us.
Thoughts on Naoshima
Overall, Naoshima is quite tourist oriented, which means that a lot of the options on the island are somewhat marked up. If I were to come again, I would only stay on the island if I was trying to maximise Chichu Museum and Benesse Museum time by alleviating the time pressure of catching the last ferry off each day. In that case, getting Moegi-so, with it's comfy rooms and good location was a nice choice.
For food, while Yuunagi and New Olympia sushi were really enjoyable, I think hitting them once for the experience was nice. I wouldn't stay on the island a second time just for them.