Teshima 2019


We took a ferry from Naoshima and went to Teshima as a day trip. Naoshima is one of the islands with reasonable accommodation options in the island cluster, making it a good option to day trip to islands like Teshima and Inujima.

Shima Kitchen

One memorable piece of artwork here was Shima kitchen. We hadn't made a reservation and didn't get to dine in, so definitely call ahead and book if you intend to check them out.

We were restricted to desserts and drinks since we couldn't dine in. Even so, the desserts were really really good. The salt and milk sherbert (pictured in blue) was AMAZING.

Storm House

One of the most memorable artworks of the entire Triennale has to be storm house. The artist converted a nice abandoned wooden house into a stormy weather simulation. They blocked out natural light, have storm and rain sound pumped in, water flowing down the windows, even a simulated leak in the roof draining into a bucket. The rooms of the house are done up with traditional tatami and screen doors. Just sitting in this room to appreciate the ambience was more therapeautic than I would have ever imagined.

Like many artworks, pictures were not allowed. You really have to go check it out yourself. Like many artworks, shoes are also not allowed inside here.

Teshima Senygo

This place looked like it had been set up just for the festival. It was basically a corrugated metal structure propped up on cinder blocks. Furniture was plastic chairs and simple wooden tables. However, out of this simple kitchen, some kindly old Japanese ladies make some amazing food.

They only had 5 items on the menu. The tempura was by far the most attractive thing on the menu for me. However, when we arrived, the tempura was sold out, so we had the fried fish and horse mackerel. Both were very good. Fresh seafood fried well. Tasty, crispy, but not greasy. Like most eating places, they have free flow of hot tea to wash things down.

As we were finishing up our meal, I saw them removing the "Sold Out" sticker from the signboard near the counter, so I queued up behind some new arrivals and ordered a tempura set. The nice old lady, not recognising me as someone who had clearly ordered already, acknowledged my order. Alas, within a minute, she was over at our table apologising that they had again sold out of tempura. Resigned, we continued eating and prepared to go see some art.

Just before we got up, the lady came back and asked if we would still like tempura since they had more again. I said yes. She looked with confusion at the two almost eaten meals in front of us and asked if we were planning to order another set. I said yes. She laughed. I laughed. The other 4 tables in the room laughed. It was a good time. Coming from Singapore, it's so common that we often share or eat more than one set per person at the table. It really does stand out in Japan if you eat more than one set yourself. The tempura arrived, as promised, and it sparked joy.

New Project (Untitled)

Another interesting piece of art from Teshima was, interestingly, untitled. It was like an answer to the question "what if we had a house, but it was all doors and windows?" For bonus credit, there was also a tunnel made out of doors and windows.

The artwork had been there for almost a decade, and was due to be taken down after the 2019 Triennale. It really was good fortune that we got to see it in person before it was.

Doors and windows are interesting symbols, because they represent portals to another place. Having so many of them present highlights the many possibilities that are presented to us in life whether we notice them or not.

At the time of this trip, I'd spent three of the four quarters this year in quite the grind. Everything was fast, but we weren't moving anywhere, and it was exhausting. We'd only just begun to truly ask ourselves where we actually wanted to go, rather than simply rushing to get to places. The plethora of doors and windows in this piece really confronted me with the point that our next step would only be meaningful if we actually decided where we wanted to end up. Things hadn't been going as smoothly as we'd have liked, but the choices for us to change things had been there all along, and we just had to make them. The beast of possibility, the symbol of hope.

Thoughts on Teshima

Teshima did have a good amount of interesting art. Some of it leaving deeper impressions than others. Storm house and Shima house are definitely long term fixtures worth checking out. If Teshima Senygo is there when you arrive, definitely go for it too. And grab the tempura set if you can.

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