Frequently Asked Questions
Most tours in English are led by Andrew McCormick. A native of the United States, Andrew has lived on Naoshima since 2019. He was a Japanese government-sponsored visiting researcher at Hiroshima University from 2019-2021, where he studied and wrote about art, tourism, and community on Naoshima. As director of Art Island Center, he plans exhibitions, manages the art studio, and leads partnerships with domestic and international scholars and organizations. Before coming to Naoshima, he worked as a designer and photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Art Island Center also works with other guides based on or near Naoshima, particularly for tours in other languages. Our research director, Meng Qu, currently assistant professor at Hokkaido University and a leading expert on the Setouchi Triennale and island revitalization, also occasionally conducts academic tours on the art islands.
Most of our tours are conducted in English.
We work with guides who can provide Naoshima tours in Japanese, French, Mandarin Chinese, and Cantonese. Please inquire for details.
Our tours range from half a day to three days. With sufficient notice, we can accommodate most schedules, but we generally only run one tour at a time, and some days are unavailable. If you would like to schedule a tour, please contact us as far ahead of time as possible (up to one year in advance).
A half-day tour (four hours) for up to four people is ¥25,000. A full-day tour (seven hours including lunchtime) is ¥45,000. Multi-day tours will be slightly discounted. Tours for more than four people may require special arrangements; contact us for a quote.
What’s included: A fun, informative tour with your guide; admission for your guide to museums on Naoshima (in most situations).
What’s not included: Tickets for your party to museums and other art sites that charge admission, transportation (bicycle rental, ferry/water taxi, etc) and meals for your party and your guide, tickets for your guide to museums on Teshima and Inujima. Please also see the following question about accommodation and transportation.
Academic/school groups may receive special pricing. Contact us for details.
Art Island Center is not a travel agency, so we are unable to book third-party services such as lodging and transportation for you. We are happy to provide recommendations—please check our Art Islands Travel Guide, or send us a message. We recommend a few hotels and guesthouses in our guide, but we can meet you wherever you choose to stay, or at the port if you are just visiting for the day.
We can assist you with purchasing ferry tickets and renting bicycles during the course of your tour. Some hotels and guesthouses on Naoshima may be able to offer transportation via car during the tour; please inquire directly with them. If you are staying at Benesse House, they offer a courtesy shuttle to all of the major art sites on Naoshima. Your guide can accompany you on this shuttle.
We love the Setouchi Triennale: Japan’s largest rural arts festival, in 2019 it drew nearly a million visitors to 12 magical islands in Setouchi (seh-toh-OO-chee, or the Seto Inland Sea region). Over approximately 100 days, art fans from across Japan and around the world explored installations in empty houses and outdoor settings from shoreline to mountaintop. (In 2022, due to the pandemic, attendance was lower, but still in the hundreds of thousands.)
So should you come in 2025? If you are planning a short stop on a longer Japan itinerary, or you are mainly interested in the big-ticket museums and artworks, you may decide to focus on Naoshima and perhaps Teshima and Inujima. In this case, not a whole lot will be different than if you came in a non-festival year, as the artworks on these islands are mostly permanent.
On the other hand, if you can spend several days or a week in Setouchi, and finding hidden marvels by lesser-known artists on out-of-the-way islands sounds exciting to you, then you should absolutely consider coming for the Triennale. We would be happy to guide you!
Learn more about the Setouchi Triennale on our friend David Billa's blog, Setouchi Explorer.
Yes we do. Please inquire for details.
No. Art Island Center is not affiliated with Benesse Art Site Naoshima.
Our tours are tailored to your group, and incorporate both the museums and “official” art sites on the island, as well as a range of additional locations, plus insights related to the island’s history, landscape, culture, and community. We work with our friends at Benesse and Fukutake Foundation to ensure a positive experience for our tour participants and stay apprised of recent developments. At the same time, we offer an impartial view of the Benesse Art Site Naoshima project.
Benesse Art Site Naoshima does conduct occasional, focused tours and other activities, mostly in Japanese. Their current English-language program can be found here.