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Stunning Art! Setouchi Triennale 2019 - Highlights, Access, And Ticket Information

Stunning Art! Setouchi Triennale 2019 - Highlights, Access, And Ticket Information

Translated by Ken

Written by Mizzochi

Kagawa 2019.06.05 Bookmark

The Setouchi Triennale 2019 runs from April to November, showcasing modern art pieces. Located on Naoshima, one of Japan's art islands, and other areas in Kagawa, the art is unique to the Seto Inland Sea islands. Learn what to see, how to get there, and ticket information.

What is the Setouchi Triennale?

Setouchi Triennale

Yayoi Kusama, "Red Pumpkin," 2006. Naoshima, Miyanoura Port. Photo Courtesy of Daisuke Aochi

The Setouchi Triennale is a modern art exhibit located on the twelve islands and two ports of the Seto Inland Sea in Kagawa Prefecture and Okayama Prefecture. Since 2010, the festival has been held triennially, with 2019 being its fourth opening.

The event is held at areas like Shodoshima, a popular resort destination, and Naoshima, an art island home to works by renowned artists such as Yayoi Kusama and Tadao Ando.

However, one of the best parts of the Setouchi Triennale is the opportunity to experience the islands' nature and history, try local food, and interact with the residents--all through the art!

*The islands and ports where the festival is located may differ by the year. For further information, please refer to the Setouchi Triennale website.

5 Reasons To Visit The Setouchi Triennale

You can enjoy more than two hundred different works of art at the Setouchi Triennale. The following is a list of five great qualities of this festival.

*The pieces introduced in this article include past works.

1. Experience the Nature of the Islands

Kanako Nakashima, Transition House

Kanako Nakashima, "Transition House," 2013.  Photo Courtesy of Kimito Takahashi
Waves caressing the beachhead, trees swaying in the breeze, the sun coloring the sky as it rises and sets are part of the stunning natural landscape of the Setouchi Islands. The artwork at the Setouchi Triennale will invite you to explore the island nature.

One example is "Transition House"on Takamijima. Rays of sunlight spill through the holes in the walls and ceiling onto the floor. The lights change with the seasons and weather, making every visit unique.

"Transition House" and other pieces will transport you into an alternate dimension, and they may even change the way you experience the world around you.

2. Encounter Island Culture

Setouchi Triennale

Yodogawa Technique, "Child Chinu - the Black Sea Bream of Uno," 2016. *Child variant of the original Chinu artwork created in 2010. Photo Courtesy of Yasushi Ichikawa

"Child Chinu - the Black Sea Bream of Uno" is a landmark piece of Uno Port in Okayama Prefecture. From afar, the structure appears simply as a cute and colorful fish. However, upon close inspection, you will see that it is composed entirely of waste products.

"Child Chinu" is an example of artists incorporating elements found in the daily lives of residents into their pieces.

The art is not limited to non-interactive structures. On Naoshima is "I ♥ YU", a public bath full of art. Meanwhile, visit Megijima to appreciate a hair salon and a laundromat transformed by art called "Little Shops on the Island."

These facilities are open to the public--guests can take a bath or get a haircut. Locals also frequent these places, so you might make some new friends during your visit!

3. Discover the Islands' History


Art for the Hospital Project, Yasashii Bijutsu. "{Tsunagari no Ie} Library," 2016. Photo Courtesy of Kimito Takahashi

The Setouchi Triennale showcases a variety of artwork based on the islands' history.

Oshima used to be the site of a concentration camp for patients diagnosed with leprosy. Works such as the "Art for the Hospital Project, Yasashii Bijutsu," which displays everyday objects of the patients, tell the stories of those who suffered and were discriminated against by the Japanese government.

Teshima, famous for the Teshima Art Museum, was once exploited as an illegal landfill for industrial waste. While the island has restored its original beauty through the collective effort of the local community, the artwork conveys the past struggles.

4. Appreciate the Evolution of Art

Setouchi Triennale

Kohei Izutsu/Daiya Aida, "Korogaru Park in Teshima," 2019
What do you see in the photo above? Believe it or not, it's a park!

The latest installment to the Setouchi Triennale, "Korogaru Park in Teshima" was created from the simple idea that children enjoy playing on slopes. Although it presently only consists of small hills, the creators plan to change and develop the park based on feedback from workshops they have with children.

Other similar in-progress artwork can be appreciated at the Setouchi Triennale.

5. Enjoy Local Food

Setouchi Triennale

Ryo Abe, "Shima Kitchen," 2010. Photo Courtesy of Osamu Nakamura

The Setouchi Islands are famous for dishes using local seafood and produce. As such, food is another essential element in making the most out of your visit to the festival. You will find a whole host of restaurants in the area.

One example is Shima Kitchen on Teshima. Founded in 2010 to bring people together through the use of food and art, this restaurant set in a traditional Japanese home, and is loved by locals and those from out of town.

Restoring the Island

When you think of art, you may imagine a painting you silently admire inside a museum.

However, behind the Setouchi Triennale is a strong desire from artists and locals to revitalize the islands, faced with issues brought upon by a declining population. It is this passion that inspires the idiosyncratic artworks of the festival.

Seasons of the Setouchi Triennale

East Side is Open Year-Round, West Side Opens in Fall

Setouchi Triennale

Seascape of the Seto Inland Sea. Photo Courtesy of Osamu Nakamura
The Setouchi Triennale 2019 is held for three separate seasons.

Season Dates Locations
Spring Encounters April 26 - May 26, 2019 Naoshima, Teshima, Megijima, Ogijima, Shodoshima, Oshima, Inujima, Shamijima (spring only), Takamatsu Port Area, Uno Port Area
Summer Gatherings July 19 - August 25, 2019 Naoshima, Teshima, Megijima, Ogijima, Shodoshima, Oshima, Inujima, Takamatsu Port Area, Uno Port Area
Fall Expansions September 28-November 4, 2019 Naoshima, Teshima, Megijima, Ogijima, Shodoshima, Oshima, Inujima, Takamatsu Port Area, Uno Port Area, Honjima (fall only), Takamijima (fall only), Awashima (fall only), Ibukijima (fall only)

The eastern islands of Shodoshima, Naoshima, Teshima, Inujima, Ogijima, Megijima, and Oshima, are open through all three festival seasons. On the other hand, Takamijima, Honjima, Awashima, and Ibukijima are only accessible during the fall season. Shamijima limited to the spring.

For information on where each island is located, please refer to the Setouchi Triennale website.

With famous art pieces on Naoshima and Teshima, the eastern islands are recommended for first-time visitors. On the other hand, the western islands have a unique appeal, such as Ibukijima, an island with one of Japan's few remaining fishing grounds for Japanese anchovy.

We recommend visiting in fall for those seeking a deeper experience at the Setouchi Triennale!

Limited-Time Events and Artworks 

Setouchi Triennale

Setouchi Girls' Theater. Photo Courtesy of Shintaro Miyawaki

Around half of the art pieces will remain at their respective sites after the festival, so you can enjoy visiting the Setouchi Islands at any point in the future.

However, there are many events and pieces that can only be seen during the festival dates.

For instance, during the fall season, the Setouchi Girls' Theater will be performing on Awashima. The group will depict the island's history of founding Japan's first oceanography school and sending out sailors into the world. It is anticipated to be one of the highlights of the 2019 festival.

Please consider which limited-time events and pieces you would like to see before you start planning your trip.

Access to Setouchi Triennale

Setouchi Triennale

Photo Courtesy of Shintaro Miyawaki

Ferries and high-speed boats leave from Takamatsu Port in Kagawa Prefecture and Uno Port in Okayama Prefecture to the eastern islands. Getting to the western islands requires leaving from different ports.

Please check the Setouchi Triennale website for more details.

Visitors to Japan traveling from Tokyo to Takamatsu can fly using ANA, on discounted flights at 10,800 yen per way. Alternatively, the Japan Rail Pass gives you unlimited rides on bullet trains and other JR lines.

Check for Discount Passes and Tours

Visitors must pay to see the artwork at the festival. We recommend purchasing the Triennale Passport. The 3 Season Passport, usable during all seasons, can be purchased at 4,800 yen (with tax).

For moving between the ports and islands, we recommend the 3-Day Ferry Pass. At 2,500 yen (adult price with tax), this pass gives you access to unlimited ferry rides for three days. Since a one-way trip from Takamatsu to any island costs between 500 and 700 yen, this ferry pass is the best value if you plan on visiting more than two islands during a three-day visit.

Also, if you do not have the time to plan your trip, we recommend considering an official tour aboard a charter boat.

Everything listed here can be found and reserved on the Setouchi Triennale 2019 website. Be sure to check before you visit.

Coin Lockers and Rental Bicycles

Setouchi Triennale

JR Takamatsu Station

Visiting the festival involves a fair amount of walking as the art pieces are scattered across the various islands.

Carrying large bags or luggage may make it difficult to get around. Therefore, make sure you either leave your bags at your hotel or use coin lockers. For information on coin lockers at the JR Takamatsu Station and Takamatsu Port, please visit the official Takamatsu city website.

For getting around the islands, you can rent bicycles or use the community bus. Please see the Setouchi Triennale 2019 website for further information.

Due to fluctuating temperatures in spring and fall, remember to take a coat or a jacket with you. During the summer, remember to wear a hat, use sunscreen, and stay hydrated.

English-speaking staff members are present at the festival, but locals may not be as skilled at the language. Be sure to prepare in advance by learning basic phrases by reading these articles to help you with Japanese.

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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