What to Do on Naoshima
If you are visiting Naoshima, it is likely you came here because of the art. While the museums on this island are indeed very impressive. Naoshima does also have more than that to offer. Here are some of our favorite things to do on the island once all the must see sights have been explored.
Take a closer look at Honmura
Honmura, located on the east side of Naoshima, is the biggest settlement on the island, and where some of the most noteworthy artworks are located. It is however, also a very charming little town full of cozy restaurants and cafés worth exploring, as well as a place where you can find many privately owned minshuku and hostels to spend the night.
Take a stroll around Miyanoura
On the western shore of Naoshima you will find the other major settlement, and the biggest hub of inbound and outbound boat traffic from the island. Venture away from the bigger streets however, and you will find many smaller locally run shops, as well as the only espresso bar on this island. One place we strongly recommend visiting if you are hungry, is Shioya, an American style diner that doubles up as a vintage clothes shop, and is run by a very friendly Japanese couple who are huge fans of American 60s and 70s rock n’ roll music.
Go to the beach
Although not very famous for it, Naoshima has several high quality beaches scattered all along its coastline. The best ones are located on the south end of the island, not far from the iconic yellow pumpkin that is something of a symbol of the island. Since Naoshima isn’t primarily a destination for beachgoers, you shouldn’t get too surprised if you end up having most of the beach to yourself.
Visit a vast industrial site
The northern part of Naoshima is the site of the islands biggest industry, a gigantic material processing facility run by Mitsubishi. This site has been used for industrial purposes for close to 100 years now, and getting close to it gives you a sense of its massive scale and impact on the islands environment. Guided tours of the facility can be organized but must be booked at least one week in advance. But just heading over there to have a look at the surroundings from a rented bicycle can provide an interesting experience.
Enjoy the interesting architecture
Naoshima isn’t just heaven for art lovers, it’s also a very interesting place thanks to its architecture. While most of the buildings in the villages are average looking, here and there you will find structures that truly stand out. The Bicycle parking lot at Honmura port is a good example. And the fact that superstar architect Tadao Ando is the mastermind behind some of the museums shouldn’t be overlooked either. There’s even a museum dedicated to him and his work located in Honmura.