Naoshima has been the site of major art-related development since the 1980s and now hosts several Tadao Ando-designed museums and other attractions. The island’s art collection includes major work by such household names as Claude Monet, James Turrell, Yayoi Kusama, Hiroshi Sugimoto. Other highlights include artworks taking the forms of a functioning bathhouse and a Shinto shrine, blurring the boundary between art and life. Its troupe of all-women bunraku puppeteers is unique to Naoshima. Details


A tiny island off mainland Okayama Prefecture, Inujima’s Seirensho Art Museum is the spectacular result of a collaboration between artist Yukinori Yanagi and architect Hiroshi Sambuichi. The island also features “art houses” with rotating installations by other significant artists like Olafur Eliasson and Kohei Nawa. Details


The Teshima Art Museum is another artist-architect collaboration (Rei Naito and Ryue Nishizawa), a breathtaking exercise in restrained simplicity set against seemingly-impossible engineering. Other art sites on the island include an impressive installation by Shinro Ohtake, a museum dedicated to the artist-designer Tadanori Yokoo, and a theater operated by the experimental duo Usaginingen. At Shima Kitchen, diners join an ongoing relational art project that brings together tourists, elderly residents, and young volunteers. Details


The first in a pair of islands off Takamatsu Port that host a collection of intimate art installations, including outdoor works and converted, previously-empty homes. Megijima’s sites of interest include a theater built in an old warehouse by artist Yoichiro Yoda. Details


Next to Megijima, Ogijima’s small village, perched on the side of a mountain, includes a winding labyrinth of sometimes nearly-vertical streets. Ogijima Library, a community-built project, is a meeting place for creative minds from around the region. A growing collection of creative small businesses by recent migrants gives the little island an exciting atmosphere. Details


Perhaps nowhere in Setouchi is history as poignant as on Oshima, where for decades those suffering from Hansen’s Disease, or leprosy, were banished. Today’s elderly residents are the patients who remained on the island after a cure was developed. The artwork on the island connects to their story and the stories of those now gone. Details


Shodoshima is a large, mountainous island full of olive trees and scenic vistas. The island’s tourism history dates back over a century, when it became a popular destination for European tourists. Host to the largest number of art installations in the Setouchi Triennale by far, its permanent art sites include several striking outdoor installations. Its annual Farmers’ Kabuki shows bring communities together for performances in two historic theaters. Other surprises include a street filled with yokai (goblin) artworks, a feature of the MeiPAM museum. Details

Awaji Island

Awaji Island (or Awajishima) is the largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, and hosts both new and traditional performing arts. The island’s renowned troupe of puppeteers perform at the Awaji Ningyō Jōruri Pavilion in Minamiawaji city. And the Awaji Art Circus hosts an annual festival with international performers on the island. Details

Photo by Yulia Skogoreva / Awaji Art Circus 2019 Special Event “Art Trip in the Woods”


Once a true island on the northern edge of Kagawa Prefecture, Shamijima was connected to the mainland during the construction of the Great Seto Bridge. However, the island feeling remains, and the artworks on Shamijima relate to this past identity as well as its current situation. Details


An island with a proud sailing heritage, Honjima features the beautifully preserved historic town of Kasashima, which boasts some of the most impressive old homes in the region. Art on the island includes a profound earth work by Hiroshi Furugori and several artworks in historic houses. The grand former government office, which was once the seat of power for the entire 33-island Shiwaku archipelago, now displays historic artifacts. Details

Takamijima & Sanagijima

A single, massive mountain peak rising out of the sea, Takamijima’s looming shape dwarfs the small village tucked against its southern slope. Hidden among its growing share of empty homes are a handful of remarkable art installations. Neighboring Sanagijima is known for its friendly population of cats and also hosts outdoor artworks. Details


A gem in western Kagawa, Awashima’s peculiar geography is the result of it once being three islands that were connected by sandbanks. The city of Mitoyo maintains an ongoing artist-in-residence program on Awashima, which is housed in a former school and produces some of the most interesting artwork in the region. Details


A little island in the far west of Kagawa Prefecture, Ibukijima requires extra effort to reach, but rewards visitors with a handful of unique art-architecture installations and a relaxing, friendly vibe. Details

Kasaoka Islands

Famed for its 800-year-old Shiraishi-odori dance, which is performed over four days each summer, Shiraishijima is a picturesque destination for outdoor recreation and seafood. More recently, the Kasaoka Islands Art Bridge project invites artists to the Okayama Prefecture island chain to create site-specific projects. Details


Designated a National Place of Scenic Beauty and a destination for cyclists on the famed Shimanami Kaido route, Omishima is home to the Toyo Ito museum of design and architecture, as well as two other contemporary museums. Omishima features several vacant houses and spaces that have been creatively repurposed, such as an old school remade as a hotel; fallow farmland reborn as organic vineyards; as well as cafes, bakeries and a lively flea market. Details


The last in a chain of small islands connected to mainland Hiroshima Prefecture by a series of bridges, Osaki-Shimojima’s historic town Mitarai was once a destination for traveling sailors, who gambled and drank in its picturesque geisha district. After centuries of decline, Mitarai has experienced an uptick of interest due to its annual Shio-sai art festival, as well as Mitarai Art Farm, a studio complex for artists and artisans to make and sell their work. Details