Sunday Special – Naoshima Island, Japan


Art aficionados, you may want to add this place to your list. Set in the Seti Inland Sea, the small Naoshima Island of approximately 3,000 residents is filled with museums and outdoor modern art installations. A change of pace from Japan’s city life, a small journey via train and boat to this unique island may be an ideal getaway. 

Once a place of dying industry, it’s revitalization came about mainly because of the Benesse Corporation working to set up museums and buildings, many by architect Tadao Ando. Today there are numerous art collections and museums that make it a great place to wander about outside and indoors. Some of the collections are:

  • Art House Project – Abandoned houses found on the eastern portion of the island that have been converted into art or venues housing art
  • Benesse House – A main museum on the island, this not only has art housed within its walls but outside as well
  • Chichu Art Museum – An underground museum with natural light flowing in from above, it was designed to use the light from nature to showcase its art. Paintings by Walter De Maria, Claude Monet, and James Turrell are housed here
  • I♥YU Sento (Bath House) – Unwind with a leisurely soak amidst artwork created by Shinro Ohtake

  • Individual art projects around the island such as a collection of mini Buddhas, the large welcoming Yellow Pumpkin and the Red Pumpkin (both by Yayoi Kasuma), and the Three Vertical Square Diagonal (by George Ricky).

This art island strikes me as a place to explore and wander at a slow pace, taking in modern interpretations of art. Not a bad way to spend a day or two.

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Red Pumpkin by Yayoi Kasuma – Naoshima Island, Japan – Photo credit: KimonBerlin, Red Pumpkin – Yayoi Kusama (8953340449), CC BY-SA 2.0

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One of the Art House Projects, Naoshima Island – Photo is Public Domain

 

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Sunday Special – Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine, Japan


Japan is a country that is on my bucket list and I hope to visit it in the near future. There is much to see in this small yet historic country.  Where to start? Let’s go with Kyoto. The former imperial capital of Japan, Kyoto is city of 1.5 million that is recognized for its beauty that is found in various places within its urban and ultramodern landscape.  One of those places pops up on my Instagram feed on a regular basis. It seems to me that Kyoto’s Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine is one of the cool kids on major travel accounts. Located at the base of a hill, it was constructed during the 8th century C.E. as a tribute to the gods of rice and sake. Within the area are numerous torii or gates that that create paths leading to the shrines. It is these brightly painted gates that appear stunningly on my Instagram feed. It’s not a wonder it has caught my eye and promptly made its way onto my every growing bucket list. But that is a what a traveler lives for, isn’t it. Couple these torii with the dramatic main gates, shrines, the numerous fox statues and I imagine I could easily meander the grounds for hours absorbing the artistry surrounding me.

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Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine’s main gate – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Photo Credit: Taken and owned by baggio4ever

baggio4ever [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

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Fushimi Inari-taisha torii path in Kyoto Japan – Photo via Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain

SUNDAY’S SPECIAL SPOT – MOUNT FUJI


One of nature’s stunning landmarks is Japan’s Mount Fuji. Found west of Tokyo, it is easily seen from the city on a clear day.  The country’s tallest and grandest mountain stands majestically at 3776 m/12,389 ft. The beauty and symmetry of this dormant volcano has enraptured artists, poets and lovers of beauty for ages. It has gained a cultural respect along with its natural splendour.

Mount Fuji amidst cherry blossoms

Mount Fuji amidst cherry blossoms

Climbing Mount Fuji is on my bucket list. During July and Aug, when there is little to no snow, it is a manageable trek even for beginners. As a result it can be crowded in these summer months when hiking is permitted, though the resultant views from the top would be sensational. A certain degree of planning and preparation is recommended and there are several routes one can proceed with for a memorable experience.

Photo credit: Wikimedia CommonsUser: Midi

 

SUNDAY’S SPECIAL SPOT – JAPAN’S SNOW MONKEYS


Today is a combination of a where and a what: Japan and its snow monkeys (Japanese macaque). Although the snow monkeys are found in the wild in various areas of Japan there are some parks where they can be visited. Two such parks are Arashiyama Monkey Park Iwatayama close to Kyoto and The Jigokudani Yaenkoen Park near Nagano with the later being the more well known. Aside from humans, these macaques are the only primates to inhabit cold and northern climates. So when you venture to see these snow-loving monkeys be prepared to withstand the cold and snow yourself. I have read that it is a trek in and of itself to view them. Well worth it I have no doubt.

Japanese Macaque in the hot springs at Jigokudani Yaenkoen park

Japanese Macaque in the hot springs at Jigokudani Yaenkoen park

These light brown-gray furred primates are quite intelligent. They have also become accustomed to humans, both in the parks and outside. Additionally, snow monkeys enjoy bathing in hot springs and rolling in the snow for fun.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons – Public Domain