The island of Nao-shima is a wannabe Bond location and Chichu Art Museum is housed in just the sort of building you can picture being the villain’s hideout, a stylish underground warren of concrete rooms and winding passageways that duck in and out of darkness, punctuated by stunning artistic set-pieces and glorious sea-views. One of the celebrated features of Tadao Ando’s architectural design is the way natural light is creatively channelled into the subterranean spaces to the point that the galleries need no other light source. And as such the permanent installations of the three represented artists – Claude Monet, James Turrell and Walter de Maria –will appear differently depending on the climate and time of your visit. Monet, in particular, has never been seen like this before – even the most blasé observer of his water lily series will be seduced by the staging of the five works here, a dreamy half-light seeping through apertures at the side of the ceiling into a room of white mosaic tile. What’s more Chichu is just the jewel in Nao-shima’s art crown. Hours of gallery-hopping await at nearby Lee Ufan and Benesse House as well as the many outdoor installations and intriguing art houses of Honmura village. Complete the day in the Nao-shima baths, another art project, where you can lie in a swelteringly hot indoor pool and gaze at erotic prints, exotic plants and a huge model elephant.
Chichu Art Museum, 3449-1 Nao-shima, Kagawa, 7613110 Japan
Google map: bit.ly/fTP6kp
Access to Nao-shima: Regular ferries run from Uno to Nao-shima (20 mins). Uno is 2-3 hours by train from Osaka or Kyoto. On the island shuttle buses run from the ferry terminal to Chichu Art Museum and other galleries.
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