Day 22

 Wednesday, July 6th. After the long and beautiful day of yesterday, we leave Takamatsu. We decided to spend the day on Naoshima. A beautiful island which has become very famous for art since the advent of the triennial. We looked at the timetable of the ferries and trains going from Uno to Okayama: we have a Shinkansen bringing us from Okayama to Hiroshima at 18:05. So we can take the ferry from Naoshima to Uno at 16:02. We take the ferry and arrive a little after 11am in Naoshima. From afar we can see directly the famous red squash. However, we have to make a stop “coin locker”. It’s really great that there are coin lockers everywhere in Japan! Suitcase and backpacks with electronics well cased, we will turn around and in the gourd, work of the artist Yoyai Kusama. We then walk quietly, passing several other works and a small olive grove filled with funny olive statues. 

Then we have to pass over a first hill to reach the first museum of the day. It is the Chichu art museum. Almost entirely underground, the museum is in itself a work of art. The architect Tadao Ando plays with the light and the openings in an elegant and impressive way. We start by going to the cafeteria to eat a little. Then we go to explore the works. We are lucky: sun and clouds alternate, which allows us to perceive the impact of the changes of outside light in the museum. In one room, 5 magnificent Monets are illuminated only by natural light. They change when the clouds pass by. This makes them really vivid and impressive! In another room is an installation by Walter Di Maria. The room is massive, with stairs and a big black sphere of 2.2m diameter in the center. In all the corners, pieces of wood painted in gold. The openings in the walls and ceiling let the light reflect on the sphere, here too the changes of luminosity make the work come alive. We will then see the works of James Turell, works that also play with perception and light. A projection on a corner of the wall really gives an impression of 3D. We have to get closer to realize that it is only a projection. The second is an “open sky” installation through which we see the day sky, or so it seems. The third one is the one that will impress the most the family. We take off our shoes, and a person indicates that we must strictly follow his instructions. We enter in a black room with a blue projection on the top of a black shining staircase. The lady asks us to climb a step, then another, and we approach the blue projection. Arrived at the top, after a small time of pause, she tells us to continue. We continue… and we pass through the projection! We are now in a room which declines gently. The projection is now at the bottom of this room. Our senses were made completely have! We continue to advance little by little then the lady tells us to stop. The projection begins to change colors. After a whole series of changes of color, the lady says to us to turn around, we return towards the staircase, we go down, and we put on again. Impressive! A magnificent experience. 

It’s time to go out again, we have little time left and still much to see. The garden outside the museum is inspired by Monet’s paintings, pond, water lilies, iris, etc. Very nice. We advance a little and we arrive at the Valley Gallery. A building designed by Tadao Ando is embedded in a valley and its vegetation. All around as well as inside, hundreds of mirror balls are embedded in the nature, floating on a pond, and create a game of mirror. This is Narcissus Garden, a work by Yayoi Kusama that made a splash at the Venice Biennale in 1966. There are also 88 Buddhas which are copies of the 88 Buddha statues that can be found along the roads of the island. But those in the installation are made from slag, residue or waste of industrial process. This work was created in 2006 by Tsuyoshi Ozawa. We do not have time to do everything, and this visit is included with the visit to the Benesse House Museum, we pass the Lee Ufan Museum and go to visit the contemporary works in the first. To get there, we walk a bit and visit an installation called “culture bath”: in the middle of the nature, a step from the beach, a jacuzzi is in the middle of rocks of Chinese origin. A changing room is in a corner. So we are talking about a culture bath, literally and figuratively! 

After the visit of the museum, we walk in a garden of sculptures, we find there notably Niki de Saint Phalle and one of Karel Appel. We take the small bus in the colors of the red squash to find us in the pier. We eat finally the white peaches of Okayama, and we take the ferry until Uno, then the local JR until Okayama before taking the Shinkasen for Hiroshima. In Hiroshima, we have to take the streetcar to arrive at our hotel, which is in fact an apartment-hotel. The room is spacious, everything seems very modern and comfortable, great! It’s time to go and eat. Not far from the hotel is one of the hundreds of places that offer Okonomiyakis in the way of Hiroshima. We go there. The place is small, but we have some place at the counter. The chef is nice, we can observe his work: he prepares a kind of pancake and places noodles on the board, heats the vegetables and other ingredients that we have chosen. He then places the noodles on the pancake, other ingredients, another superfine pancake on it, adds eggs and different ingredients, turns the whole thing over, cuts them up and places them in front of each of us. It is very good and very copious. We return to the house by hearing the jumping fishes make splash in a river (that we suppose arm of sea). And it is the hour of the rest. 



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