Chichu Art Museum: Must-Visit Museum in Japan’s Art Island, Naoshima

Chicu Art MuseumSTORY

Naoshima has three museums that are always packed with local and foreign visitors. While the Benesse House Museum and Lee Ufan Museum don’t require a reservation, Chichu Art Museum requires an online reservation. Chichu Art Museum has some permanent artwork installations by James Turrell, Claude Monet, and Walter De Maria.

Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima

Tadao Ando – Museum Architecture of Chichu Art Museum

Constructed in 2004, Chichu Art Museum was built mostly underground to avoid interfering with the natural setting and the magnificent scenery of Seto Inland Sea. The museum building itself is an artwork designed by Tadao Ando. The main construction materials used in the architectures are concrete, steel, and wood. Entering the museum reminded me of Hollywood’s movie “Maze Runner”, the museum architecture was breathtakingly cool.

James Turrell – “Afrum, Pale Blue”, “Open Field” & “Open Sky”

Our first visit was to James Turrell’s artwork. James Turrell’s artwork presents light art to arrange the intended viewing experience. The room was dark so a couple of staff were helping us light our way to the stairs in front of what we thought a red-lighted wall. We were asked to go up the stairs and walked through the wall (or so we thought), we’re actually entering the “art” itself. It was an awesome artwork, and unexpectedly fun.


Claude Monet – “Water Lilies” series

The second artwork was the lovely “Water Lilies” series paintings by Claude Monet lightened by natural lightning. The centerpiece of these paintings was Claude Monet beloved flower garden. The five paintings are so colorful and charming, we were choosing and imagining to put one of the paintings in our room, haha.

Walter De Maria – “Time/Timeless/No Time”

And the last artwork we visited was by Walter De Maria. The art space was spectacular. It was like being inside the scene of a science fiction movie. There are a 2,2 m diameter sphere and 27 wooden sculpture covered in gold leaves that were precisely cut. The “Time/Timeless/No Time” artwork’s appearance constantly changes from sunrise to sunset.

Museum Cafe

Lunch at Cafe Chichu Art Museum

Lastly, we visited the museum’s café. The café has a spectacular view. Visitors can choose to sit inside or outside at its terrace while admiring the amazing view of Seto Inland Sea. At the café entrance, you will find a notice board saying that you can take pictures of the food and scenery, but not the building as the building itself is an artwork.

Setouchi Lemonade Sparkling

There are two artwork spaces where you’ll be asked to open your shoes, James Turrell’s and Walter De Maria’s spaces. So, maybe it’ll better to wear comfortable shoes when visiting the museum. On the way to the museum, you’ll find the exit gate first, just walk past the gate and you will find a beautiful mini garden on your way to the entrance. The garden is reminiscent of Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny, France, so you’d better not miss it.