Teshima, known for Rei Naito’s Matrix in the Teshima Art Museum, is part of the Setouchi Art Islands, along with Naoshima, Megijima, Inujima, and others. Known best for the Teshima Art Museum, there are many other art installations scattered on the island and plenty to see and do – or just bask in the beautiful views of the ocean from the rolling landscapes!
Your First Color by Pipilotti Rist
A small house located near Shima Kitchen, Your First Color is a pay-for exhibit, covered by a pink curtain and manned by a staff member. Inside, the room is darkened, a few remnants of a former tenant lie around. One window is colored magenta by light, and a circular screen hangs from the ceiling, playing a looping video of grass and objects from a floor view.
Shima Kitchen by Abe Ryo
A beautiful, glass windowed and Japanese style restaurant, surrounded by an equally beautiful structure roof-like structure made of wooden tiles. It is literally located right next to Your First Color, and from first glance, you wouldn’t be able to tell that it was considered one of the main artworks on the island. I thought it was simply part of the architecture around. The building operates as an actual restaurant, offering various foods produced locally on the island or from main Kagawa.
Hotel Lemon by Smiles
My absolute favorite piece on the island for its quirkiness. It is actually a place for lovers, but, as the audio says, close friends is fine, too – just make sure you are in a pair. And you really should be, because it isn’t as fun without someone there with you! The audio plays certain commands for you to do with your partner in a soothing, funny, monotone voice.
Teshima Art Museum by Nishizawa Ryue/Naito Rei
My second favorite place on Teshima, and the main reason I went. I had always seen pictures of Naito Rei’s Matrix on social media, and dreamed of the day I could go. And finally, my dreams came true. The Teshima Art Museum is not a traditional museum – it houses only the one piece of art and a cafe/store. Though the grounds are somewhat spacious, only a certain amount of people are let into the Matrix at certain points in time. Going on a weekday, I thought I would be able to enter quickly, but there was still a line and a wait.
No pictures are allowed in the Matrix, but you can spend as much time as you want in there, basking in the sun or examining the water droplets that seem to form at random intervals from certain points on the ground of the facility. If you take your time to sit, you’ll find it very relaxing, as you could spend an infinite amount of time just in a peaceful calm there.
Pictures are, however, allowed in the cafe and museum building, which has a small window shaped like the giant, gaping holes in Matrix. The cafe offers few refreshments, but I made sure to pick up a onion & pepper rice flour bagel, which was chewy and wonderful.
La forêt des murmures by Christian Boltanski
One of the last artworks we were able to visit was La forêt des murmures by Christian Boltanski. It is a bit of a trek to get there (but there was a beautiful temple on the way up with a yellow-leafed Gingko tree), but, considering the atmosphere the piece tries to display, I can understand why it needs the relative isolation.
Boltanski’s piece is really a collection of windchimes, bought and placed in the forest by visitors. These visitors write the name of a loved one on the clear tag hanging under the metal bell portion of the chime, and then place it in on a thin metal pole in the ground. The windchimes are spread out throughout a small area, still filled with trees. As the wind blows, the chimes let our a clear sound, while the tags swirl and intertwine with one another. Serenity. Calm. Peaceful. Nature.
We also later attemped to go to Boltanski’s Les Archives du Cœur, but it was closed just a few minutes before we arrived. Maybe next time.
Various art installations are located all around the island, and it is best to travel by rent-a-bike. Make sure to get there early if possible, as artworks close around 3PM. Many artworks are interactive pieces.
This trip, we mostly stuck around Karato Port, where most of the artworks are focused around (and there are more than I have covered). Due to time constraints, we were only able to go to a few of the exhibits – so I advise staying overnight, or spending more than one day ferrying to Teshima to hit up all the artworks.
There aren’t many places to eat around the island, so make sure to mark where you want to go first. To be honest, I would probably forgo the food for the exhibits, as time is limited!
Teshima is reachable via Uno Port located in Okayama Prefecture, but is also accessible from Takamatsu Port in Kagawa Prefecture and Naoshima’s Miyanoura Port.
*IMPORTANT: Make sure to know the schedule of the ferries and to double check with the staff! My friend and I were forced to make a trip to Takamatsu Port and then back to Naoshima because one of the boats was not running that day!
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