Naoshima Tours

Tailored to your interests

There is no single right way to experience Naoshima and its neighbor islands in the Seto Inland Sea. Depending on your interests, we can customize your trip and make sure you get the most out of your time here. This includes both Naoshima’s famed art museums as well as additional activities like exploring heritage architecture, seeing how sea salt is made, or taking an art class!

Flexible and fun

We plan our days with flexible schedules; if you find yourself drawn to a particular location, we’ll spend more time there. If something doesn’t seem appealing, or if it’s too crowded, we can skip it. We don’t use scripts, so quick adjustments are no problem. We’ll also have backup and second-backup plans for meals to allow for unexpected closures (a frequent issue on the islands).

Go beyond Naoshima

Naoshima is often called the art island, but it’s really one of several in the area. If your schedule allows, a visit to nearby islands like Inujima, Teshima, Ogijima, and Megijima will reveal treasures both famous (Teshima Art Museum, Inujima Seirensho Art Museum) and hidden (Ogijima Library, the Oni Caves of Megijima) that you’ll be talking about for years afterward.

At your pace

We are happy to accommodate your preferred means of transportation. We can rent bicycles, hop on the museum shuttle, ride your charter bus, or even travel by water taxi to surrounding islands—we know a guy! The best way to experience the islands for most people is by walking, but if a reduced-walking or wheelchair-accessible route is needed, we can help arrange it.

Are you an architecture enthusiast or an art explorer? Or do you want a deeper dive into the local revitalization story? Pick a theme for your tour, or combine elements you find interesting into something unique.

Naoshima art

Discover the best of the best the island has to offer, along with hidden gems that most visitors pass by, on our most popular tour of the island. Since the 1992 debut of Benesse House Museum, Naoshima has become a top destination on every art lover’s bucket list, with works by international luminaries like Claude Monet and Yayoi Kusama merely the starting point on an art adventure spanning dozens of museums, galleries, outdoor installations, ports, and more.

Destinations include the all-underground Chichu Art Museum, the collection of interventions in old dwellings known as Art House Project, the small but profound Valley Gallery, and more. Rather than exhaustively cover each artwork on the island, your guide will highlight selected works along the journey that will leave a lasting impression.


Discover the evolution of Naoshima’s built environment: from burnt cedar planks and slag-block foundations, to the imaginative postmodern municipal architecture of Kazuhiro Ishii, to the still-growing collection of iconic works by “Concrete King” Tadao Ando. Recent years have brought projects by a wide spectrum of notable Japanese architects including Hiroshi Sambuichi, SANAA (Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sejima), So Fujimoto, Kengo Kuma, and more.

In addition, a growing DIY movement on Naoshima has transformed old houses into delightfully quirky cafes and guesthouses, offering visitors myriad examples of adaptive reuse. We’ll create a route around the island based on your priorities. For longer visits, consider a day on Inujima and Teshima, both of which offer unique, stunning museums as well as many notable smaller structures.


A secret beach with views of a half-dozen nearby islands. Quaint townscapes and peculiar architecture. Modern concrete forms juxtaposed with verdant natural scenery. Abandoned tunnels, industrial infrastructure, salt-weathered fishing ports, and a famous yellow pumpkin at the end of a pier. Trace a magical path through picturesque Naoshima, on bicycle or on foot. Your guide will take you to the best photo spots, including many locations known only to a handful of locals.

For even more magic, board a water taxi and visit the shores of nearby inhabited and uninhabited islands. Your guide can offer technical tips to beginner photographers honing their craft, while experienced photographers can focus on the image and leave the planning to us.

Regional revitalization

Naoshima is regularly discussed as a success story for revitalizing depopulated regions. After decades of arts investment in partnership with local government, an explosion of small businesses in the tourism industry has brought a much-needed new chapter to the island. Other nearby islands have benefited from art tourism as well, due in part to the Setouchi Triennale, an arts festival spanning 12 islands and nearby ports.

With this in mind, visit several islands, exploring the art and architecture and finding evidence revitalized communities, while also discussing the challenges and limitations of this approach. This study tour combines themes of socially-focused art and architecture, tourism, rural studies, and more, offering a thought-provoking view into a complex and fascinating phenomenon. Learn more on our Research page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are the guides?

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.

What languages are available?

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.

How long are your tours? What days are available?

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).

How much does a tour cost?

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.

Can Art Island Center arrange my accommodation and transportation?

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.

Should I visit during the Setouchi Triennale?

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.

Do you offer academic discounts for school/university groups?

Yes we do. Please inquire for details.

Is this an official Benesse/Fukutake Foundation tour?

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.

Questions? Ready to schedule a tour? Contact us using the form below. You can also email us at, or send us a message on Instagram.