Japan: the ‘Arts Constellation’, a Journey through Tradition and Modernity

Start Date:Friday, 25 Nov, 2016 9:00 am
End Date:Friday, 2 Dec, 2016 9:00 am
Venue8 days / 7 nights in hotels
ContactBelinda Piggott; [email protected],
Therese Lesaffre: [email protected]

Like twinkling stars in the sky, Japanese artists and architects have been inspired by the Seto Sea Islands to create oustanding artworks. The ‘Arts Constellation’ is a fascinating journey through Japanese art tradition and modernity starting in Shikoku, then in Teshima, Inujima, Naoshima Islands and finishing in Kyoto. Our voyage will bring us some unique experiences.

On Shikoku Island, the smallest of the main four Japanese islands, we explore a variety of spots: the famous Japanese Daimyo Garden – Ritsurin Park- one of the best stroll garden, and traditional villages -Shikoku Mura- where architecture, arts and crafts are remnants of the feudal history of Japan during and following the Edo period. We visit fascinating places in Takamatsu: the Konpira Grand Theatre, known as Kanamaru-za, the oldest Kabuki Theater built in 1835 and still in use for plays, and Konpira Shrine with a collection of 3,000 works of fine art. In the small town of Mure, there is no place more magical than the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum and workshop which showcases the extraordinary range of the artist’s sculptures, ink paintings and modern design furniture for which he is famous.

There are several small scatterd islands facing Shikoku Island on the Seto Inland Sea, some of them quite remote, where nature and art blend in harmony resulting in contemporary art which infuses modernity with respect for tradition.

On Teshima Island we find teh Teshima Art Museum, uniting the creative visions of artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa, standing on a hill overlooking the Seto Inland Sea. The museum resembles a water droplet at the moment of touching ground.
Structurally, the building consists of a concrete shell, devoid of pillars. Two oval openings in the shell allow wind, sounds, and light of the world outside into this organic space where nature and architecture intimately interconnect. In the interior space, water continuously springs from the ground. This setting, in which nature, art and architecture come together with such limitless harmony, conjures an infinite array of impressions with the passage of seasons and the flow of time.

Before turning to modern art, Inujima Island was an industrial site; today the remains of a copper refinery gives the iconic image of Inujima’s landscape. Designated as a “heritage of industrial modernization” in 2008, the ruins were converted into the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum by tastefully incorporating an art gallery into the ruins. Scattered across the small, peaceful village are five galleries of the Inujima Art House Project which were built for the art festivals in 2010 and 2013 and have become permanent attractions on the island.

Naoshima Island is a magnificent destination with several contemporary art museums. Benesse House, perched on a hill overlooking the Seto Inland Sea, was designed by well-known Japanese architect, Tadao Ando. Numerous sculptures are exhibited in the outdoor area to strengthen the uniqueness of the site and to bring some animation in the serenity of the scenery. At dusk, we will experience the shifting light of the day over the artworks. As guests for two nights at the Hotel, which is part of the Museum, we will have 24 hour access to the museum.

Located in Moriyama on the outskirts of Kyoto, amongst lush natural surroundings and in view of Lake Biwa, is the Sagawa Museum: a crossing point of tradition and modern architecture. The museum’s permanent collection showcases works that embody the spirit of Japanese art, including pieces from the famous Japanese ceramic artist, Raku Kichizaemon, and paintings by Hirayama Ikuo.

Keiko Packard, former Chair of the Friends (2001-2003), will kindly lead us and make special arrangements with the Directors or Curators in order to gain exposure to some of the best places and opportunities. Keiko will enrich our knowledge of Japanese cuisine to ensure that we will experience memorable times during this ‘Arts Constellation’ exploration.

This trip is designed for a small group of participants.