Kagawa is home to a group of beautiful islands set in the Seto Inland Sea, most visible from Takamatsu city.
Naoshima: Is a large island in the Seto Inland sea that is host to the art festival of the Setouchi Triennale, and permanent art museums as well. Naoshima is home to the Benesse House, and the Chichi Art Museum, both designed by Tadao Ando, a world class architect. The island is beautiful and sees many tourists year round. There are about 3,000 people who call Naoshima their home. The ferries that goes between Naoshima and Takamatsu take either 30 minutes or 50 minutes, depending if you take the high speed boat or regular ferry. If you travel by foot it will cost you only 520 yen oneway or 990 round trip.
Teshima: Is home to about 1,000 people, and has had people living on it for 14,000 years. Teshima is home to the Teshima Art Museum, and it was opened in 2010 at the very start of the Setouchi Triennale. The museum is a single piece of art called “Matrix” and is a giant concrete shellFrom Naoshima you can get to Teshima. There is a high speed that takes about 25 minutes and from there it can go to Inujima.
Inujima: Once home to about 1,500 people in the 1930’s, this island has only about 40 residents or so. The island houses “The Inujima Art Project” which is a architectural project in rehabilitating older industrial buildings. It is like stepping back in the past. So, if you are looking for something really “off the beaten path”, you’ve found it right here. A large brick refinery stands sentinel to Inujima. Kind of cool, actually. Come to Inujima from Teshima. And get to Teshima from Naoshima. And get to Naoshima from Takamatsu. It’s a bit of a hop and skip, but you can do it. The most important thing is to keep an eye on the time so you don’t miss the boat going back.
Shodoshima: Is home to several attractions. Visitors can enjoy wild monkeys, clean beaches, soy sauce production, olives, and a miniature 88 Buddhist Temple pilgrimage. There are beautiful natural sites to take in, such as the Kankakei Gorge (enjoyable by ropeway!), the Dobuchi Strait, the Angel Road, the Shodoshima Olive Park, as well as the movie set for Twenty-Four Eyes. Shodoshima is a sister island to Milos, Greece so there is a very nice windmill to commemorate their connection. There are two towns on the island: Tonoshou and Shodoshima. Getting to Shodoshima from Takamatsu will take about 1 hour and 20 minutes by ferry. The ferries leave approximately every 30 minutes. There is a high speed boat, which will get you there at a … higher speed. Costs for ferry tickets are very reasonable. At the time of this writing, adults board for 690 yen and kids for 340 yen. High speed boat costs are about double (1170 yen for adults, 590 for kids).
Megijima: Is a lovely small island that is home to about 200 people. It is popular for cherry blossoms in the spring, and also hosts “ogre caves”, where the legendary Momotaro has gone to vanquish them for their misdeeds of thieving and pillaging the natives. During the Setouchi Triennale, there are many displays and works of art to enjoy here. A ferry runs between Takamatsu and Megijima and costs 370 yen. The ride takes about 20 minutes.
Ogijima: Is a very small island, only about 2 kilometres long and only 1 kilometre wide. There are only about 170 people or so living there now, but it plays a very nice role in the Setouchi Triennale, as well as having the distinction for being the inspiration for the comic book (manga) called Battle Royale. It has a very nice lighthouse, which is the symbol of the island. Ogicho is Ogijima’s only town. There is a ferry that runs every two hours between Takamatsu and Ogijima and is about a 40 minute ride. Cost is only 510 yen.
Oshima: One island that is not accessible, yet is part of the Setouchi Triennale, is Oshima. This island has, until the mid 1990’s, been a leper colony. This kind of thing is seemingly unheard of, and there is little written about this place. Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, has historically been regarded as a dangerous affliction and one that requires isolation in societies all over the world, and all through time. Oshima has a sanatorium for lepers and is home to people who have been made to live there from the moment of diagnosis. The Setouchi Triennial has made Oshima part of its chain of destination points when in full swing. The island is accessible if you join a guided tour, but otherwise is not open to wandering visitors. About 100 people live there today.
Honjima: Is part of a group of islands called the “Shiwaku Islands”, and is considered to be part of Marugame city. It is only about 7 square kilometres, and is the most populated among these islands. The Kasajima district is considered a special historical zone, and there are several traditional buildings that are preserved there. Among them are the Senshou Temple, the Kasajima castle ruins, the Choutoku Temple, the Anoe Shrine, The Kogarasu Shrine, the Shougaku Temple, the Toukou Temple, the Honjima Tomari swimming area, warehouses, guard houses, and the Mizumiiro Elementary School which was used for the movie called, “Kikansha Sensei”. From Takamatsu, go to Marugame city. From Marugame go to the port city of Utazu. From Utazu take a ferry to the island. The ride takes about an hour.
Takamijima: From Tadotsu in western Kagawa take the ferry. The ride is about 40 minutes. You can get there from the JR Tadotsu Station if you come by train from Takamatsu. There is a remarkable amount of art to be found on Takamijima. There are no bicycle rentals, so prepare to travel about on foot. Sensible shoes are well advised. The island is known originally for its production of pyrethrum, an element used in mosquito repellant. The industry has faded over time, and has been replaced with fusion of art, sculpture, and older buildings. Fascinating.
Awashima: The island where sailors learn to sail. Star-shaped and centrally significant during the 15th and 16th centuries for the Shiwaku Navy. The Meiji government, in 1897 opened a National Sailor School and it continued to operate as such for the next 90 years. Closed in 1987, the grounds are now the Awashima Marine Memorial Park, complete with models of ships and various naval paraphernalia. Since the opening of the Setouchi Triennale a few permanent works of art are present, and more are likely to come in the future. Come to Awashima by JR train and get off at Takuma Station. It takes between 30-60 minutes from Takamatsu depending on if you grab the express train or not. From Takuma Station ride the community bus that runs hourly, costs only 100 yen. The bus will stop at Sudako Mae bus stop. From there walk 5 minutes to Suda port. The ferries run once every three hours, costs 330 yen one way, and takes about 15 minutes to get there.
Ikubijima: Little is known about Ikubijima, but it is part of the Setouchi Triennale and will likely have a growing art presence in the years to come. Geographically, the island is known for dried sardines. Delicious!