Visit: Chichu Art Museum

Benesse Art Site is a multi-island art project that includes an underground museum (the only one in the world), outdoor sculpture park, artist work spaces and a hybrid hotel-museum for guests. It's not easy to get to - the journey from Osaka involves multiple trains, transfers and a ferry - but that, of course, is the point.

Masterminded by architect Tadao Ando, the materials of each building are reduced to a minimum of concrete, iron, glass and wood.

The placement of both the structures and the artwork amplifies the natural beauty of the island, hence the decision to place the Chichu Art Museum underground.

This museum represents a singular, site-specific art work. Natural light plays an integral role in the visitor's experience, changing through the day and seasons as it pours through the space.

Installations by Claude Monet, James Turrell and Walter De Maria are on permanent display. Relying on the artwork to inform the design of each room, and vice versa, Ando molds the structure into a frame - a lesson also applicable to domestic installation design.

Walter De Maria, Time/Timeless/No Time, 2004

Walter De Maria, Time/Timeless/No Time, 2004

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1914-1926

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1914-1926

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1914-1926

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1914-1926

James Turrell, Afrum Pale Blue, 1968

James Turrell, Afrum Pale Blue, 1968

James Turrell, Open Sky, 2004

James Turrell, Open Sky, 2004

James Turrell, Open Field, 2000

James Turrell, Open Field, 2000

James Turrell, Open Field, 2000

James Turrell, Open Field, 2000

The ideal time to visit Naoshima is in the spring or fall. I went during cherry blossom season, which I highly recommend! Stay at least three nights. Read more here.