Benesse House

Well Chichu just destroyed our preconceived concepts of what art actually is, time to walk over to Benesse House. The sun is going down and the lighting makes for a romantic stroll between the two museums.

We pass by a clearing down below us by the beach that has a bunch of standing rocks. Might as well check that out. We follow some steps through the woods and come to the clearing. There is a sign beside it, “If you would like to take a bath here, please inquire at the front desk.” Whaaa? It’s a bath?


Doesn’t look like a bath…


In the middle of the rocks is a covered jacuzzi. How cool. Why is there no one here for the sunset? Seems kind of perfect right now.





Ok well that’s neat but we’d better get to Benesse house in case they have more art installations that change with the passing sun before it’s set.


We walk up the slope to Benesse House. It’s another structure built by Tadao Ando. It is part museum and part hotel. I’m guessing it’s pricey af to stay here.

Here’s a shot of the facility from the website


We walk in and are greeted by a hostess, “Hotel or Museum?”, “Museum please”, “This way.”

We follow another concrete walkway to a crossroads of hallways. I guess it’s choose you own adventure in here. We throw out the RPG right hand rule and go left. It leads into a large oval room with flashing lights at the bottom. There is a sloping walkway along the wall that takes us around the outskirts of the wall. The flashing lights are coming from a neon sign in the center of the room. It’s flashing up things like “Speak and die”, “Come and live” in a seemingly random succession.

The piece is called 100 Live and Die by Bruce Nauman. It consists of 50 pairings of words that flash on the display one at a time, sometimes in groups, and, fortunately for us, stay on all at once every once in a while. (Again, it’s no pics so I pulled these from their site).


We stand at the center and watch. An oval hole in the ceiling casts whatever light is left of the day into the room. While we are watching they all come on at the same time. There’s a slight hissing as the neon lights come on and off. The room is silent except for this and so the suggestive sign makes for an uplifting, awkward positive/negative experience depending on which phrase currently lights up the room (It was much darker than the above pic while we were in there).


After witnessing enough combinations we exit through the side door. When we do, on the wall beside us is a crazy bug! It’s about the size of my whole hand, fingers splayed. Ironically, I do take a picture of this in the museum. What the hell is this monster?


The spaces and hallways in Benesse House are all meticulously laid out for lighting and visual effect. There are pieces on the walls and floors. Whole rooms dedicated to some. We meander through and take it all in.



This one was interesting. An installation by Jonathan Borofsky with three mannequin looking automatons. Their jaws just moved up and down on a simple spoke and wheel mechanism. All they said was “Chatter chatter chatter…. chatter chatter chatter chatter chatter” the whole time we were in the room. On the opposite wall is an arrangement or country flags. Ants moved among them.


We watched for a bit and walked around it all trying to decipher what exactly it meant.

This is the end of the room, so after we listen to the chatter for a bit we turn and walk back down the hall. When we get back by the boat the Chattering Men all of the sudden break into a beautiful chorus of Oms in perfect three piece harmony. Wtf? Queenie and I spin around. There’s nobody there. Is it a sensor thing? Or maybe they just do that after so much time has passed? Like the 100 live and die lights all coming on at once while we were in front of it? Or are we just getting tremendously lucky as we walk by these pieces?

The next room has a circle of wood on the floor and matching ones on the walls.


A room just off of this has an amazing circle of Ultraman action figures perfectly arranged in front of two mirrors.


We’d also heard there was another Tadao Ando exhibit here called Oval which consists of an oval cut in the ceiling of a room that is sunken underground. So from ground level you can walk up and look down into the room and from within the room you can look through to the open sky. It’s another blend of art with nature.

We find the door to the Oval. Hotel guests only. Well shit. A quick look at the price online sets this experience at $500 – $1000 bucks. Oval tax. I look it up. Seems pretty rad.


I mean.. I’d stay there

naoshima oval

Ok well it’s getting near sunset we should get to the terrace outside and catch it. We find our way to the cafe. There are a bunch of hoity toity types sitting having champagne. It’s a private function in the cafe at sunset. Hmmm well we can still go outside and see it from there. So we mosey around the cafe and go out onto the grass. Which is hilarious because now we’re totally in front of the cafe windows and in the view of everyone watching the sunset. There are a couple groups of people out here so I don’t feel too bad.


Shipyard Works Bow with Hole by Shinro Ohtake sits on the lawn outside.


I thought this would make a funny pic.


We watch the sunset by the boat



Ok we should be about done I guess, the sun is down. But we’ve got a bit more curiosity to spend so we head towards another installation we can see from the lawn. Not sure what’s going on here. But it leads us to another one we can see from here.


Four metal diamonds, lit up and moving slowly in the wind. I go over and tilt them all. They slowly move back.




Then from here we spot something else. Looks like another building. We investigate.


Whoa it’s two of those giant spheres like the one in Chichu. What are they doing here?


Maybe this was a prototype of the larger exhibit over there?


Sun’s still going down. We can explore a little more.


There’s a dock down there



Just the sound of the dock creaking and the waves. Once in a while a fish jumps out of the water with a little splash. The view back up to Benesse House is nice. This island is something else. Immensely glad we made it here.



We get back from the dock and spot another installation on the beach. It’s a boat hull with swiss cheese holes in it. I wonder how long we could explore this island and find random shit like this. So cool.



We see lights going towards the Benesse House. Shit maybe it’s the bus! We rush up there and make it just in time. Red pumpkin this time.


It drops us back at the first stop from earlier in the day. We spot the Kusama pumpkin lit up on the dock decide to rush over in the ten minutes we have before the next bus.


I don’t remember what I said here but Queenie thought it was hilarious.


Pumpkin Love!


Shit more lights! We race back to the bus stop and make it just in time again! I think we’ll grab dinner in the little town here and then bus it back to the dock for the final ferry. We get off the bus and there are a bunch of people running to a little boat. Hmmmm maybe we can just get on here? Yep, looks like it! Fuck it, let’s go! Whoa what’s this? No time, we’re outta here!



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