Top 3 Art Museums in Kagawa

by GoWithGuide travel specialist

Looking for art? Kagawa is famous for its many art museums and architecture. So, if it is art you are looking for on your trip to Japan, then Kagawa is the place to visit. From the contemporary Benesse House Museum, to a museum set up by world-famous architect Tadao Ando, here are the three best museums in Kagawa:

1. Benesse House Museum

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Under the concept of “Co-existence of nature, architecture and art”, this facility was built merging a contemporary art museum and a hotel. The hotel is composed of the conceptually different Museum, Oval, Park and Beach buildings, all of which were designed by the world-famous architect Tadao Ando. A beautiful view of the Seto Inland Sea can be seen no matter which suite you are in, and there is a wide variety of rooms available from the reasonable Twin Room to the suite room ideal for families. There is also an art space and exhibits which are only open for guests, and the hotel is popular also with overseas travelers who spend a night in Naoshima especially to see the art and the beautiful views at sunrise, sunset and night. At the main dining room, Terrace Restaurant Umi-no-Hoshi, you can enjoy a dinner which serves fresh seafood from the Seto Inland Sea. Also, guests of the hotel can enjoy the art museum for free.

The Museum part of the facility is designed so half of it is situated outdoors, and so you can feel the nature of the outside while also inside. There are art works everywhere within the facility, on the shoreline outdoors and even within the forest so that artists have created site-specific works for outdoor display. Therefore, you can appreciate art while taking that stroll in the midst of the lush nature at Seto Inland Sea. Free gallery tours are given by hotel staff. Also, the lunches served at the in-museum Japanese kaiseki restaurant, Issen, are popular using ingredients from the sea. There is also a café and a museum shop available which have a view of the Seto Inland Sea.

Admission: ¥ 1,030 

Guidebook from Planetyze about Benesse House Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Benesse House Museum
Tours of Benesse House Museum

2. Ando Museum

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Ando Museum was established by the world-famous architect Tadao Ando in tandem with the opening of the Seto Inland Sea International Art Festival 2013. Ando himself designed the museum within a restored 100-year-old house situated close to his own house project of Minamidera in an old townscape remaining in Honmura District. White its exterior retains its status as a house, the interior is a double-layered inner space framed by bare concrete walls, and while the museum has taken due consideration for the streets of Naoshima, the building is a work in itself incorporating Ando elements down to the last detail such as the slanted walls, the ring-shaped room and the way of introducing light. It not only has taken into mind its formative beauty but it has also been functionally designed to allow light in efficiently to spread out throughout the whole room, at the same time allowing management of the space so that the environment can be controlled through the power of nature.

The models, photographs and sketches for the projects that Ando has tackled on Naoshima such as Benesse House, Chichu Museum, and Lee Ufan Museum are introduced, and furthermore, information regarding his career, and a model and photos of his signature work, The Church of Light, are also exhibited. Also, the change and transfiguration that has made up the recent history of Naoshima are also introduced. At the museum shop, postcards and other stationery related to Ando are sold along with items that have his signature and drawings. If you visit the museum after touring some of his other works on the island, you will get an even deeper understanding. The museum is very small, but the labors of his designs have been condensed so that it is truly a place that will want to be visited by his fans. 

Admission: ¥ 510

Guidebook from Planetyze about Ando Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Ando Museum
Tours of Ando Museum

3. Chichu Art Museum

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The museum was created in 2004 to represent Naoshima as a place to consider the relationship between nature and people. Inside the museum, only the works of Claude Monet, James Turrell and Walter De Maria are on display, and the facility was designed by world-famous architect Tadao Ando to match these works so that the museum itself is an art work. So that Naoshima’s beautiful landscape wouldn’t be harmed, almost all of the museum has been built underground to let in natural light, and throughout the journey of a day and the four seasons, the expressions of the art works and the space change second by second in what is a very unique museum.

The gallery that displays five exhibits of the “Water Lilies” series painted by the Impressionist Claude Monet in his later years doesn’t use any lighting equipment at all, only using natural light to illuminate the room and the works as a sublime expression of direction. It has all been planned to integrate the size of the gallery, the design, the space and Monet’s paintings. Also, by the passageway leading to Monet’s gallery, Monet’s garden by Giverny has been recreated with about 200 kinds of the actual flowers and water lilies cultivated by the artist himself planted there so that it can be enjoyed throughout the four seasons. The gallery devoted to the California-born Walter De Maria is a spherical room with a 2.2-meter diameter containing 27 wooden carvings covered in gold leaf; it’s an art space that resembles a temple and the entire space along with the art works were assembled under the direction of De Maria. As well, the only lighting is the natural light that comes in from the ceiling, and depending on the timing, the lighting of the room will change dramatically to evoke various expressions. For James Turrell, three of his representative works over the decades that actually use light itself are on display, and every Friday and Saturday only at sunset, there is a night program held where visitors can get a taste of a world that is different from that shown during the daytime. You will also want to drop by the café and museum shop from where you can get a beautiful view of the Seto Inland Sea. 

Admission: ¥ 2,060

Guidebook from Planetyze about Chichu Art Museum
Reviews from TripAdvisor about Chichu Art Museum
Tours of Chichu Art Museum

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