Teshima is the second largest island of the Setouchi Triennale. It is twice as big as Naoshima but with only one third of the population. While Teshima may be the second largest island in the festival, it is relatively easy to access everything. The best way to get around the island is using one of the electric bicycles that you can rent. Otherwise you are at the whim of the buses which, even during the festival, has scattered services. Buses run sporadically throughout the day with an average of 2 an hour. Missing your bus can create a little headache but if you are in decent shape it can be really easy to get around. The cheapest way to access the island is via Uno Port in Okayama as there is a regular car ferry to and from the island but for most people, Takamatsu’s fast passenger ferries will be the best.
Teshima is split into three major regions. The main port, Ieura is located on the north-west side of the island while the other major port is Karato. The less populated area of Kou is another popular area but trying to access all areas of Teshima in one day can be difficult as access from Kou to Karato, especially by bus, must be done via Ieura. Most of the sites are located from Karato Port to Ieura. Doing a day long hike between the two is possible but combining it with a trip to Kou would be a little difficult if done primarily on foot. If you are walking from Karato Port to Ieura, there is only one difficult section as you must climb up the mountain to the Teshima Art Museum. I cheated by taking the bus up the mountain and saved a lot of time and energy. For Kou, the walk goes through a high valley between the peaks so the walk is not as difficult, but still not easy. Each area has its own pros and cons and I found the Kou area to be the best area, mainly because it was less populated than the other regions. It could also be because the main museum wasn’t located in this area.
Kou can easily be described as a little village full of farms and not much else. When I arrived in Teshima, I hopped onto the bus and took a quick ride out to Kou only to realize that the bus ride was really short and that I could have walked it if I really wanted to. I took a roundabout way to see all of the art rather than the most efficient method. I started off visiting “Distant Memory” by Chiharu Shiota. Using an abandoned community centre, simply a small building that had a small stage and a couple side rooms, Chiharu Shiota created a tunnel utilizing various fixtures, mainly window frames, from around the island and surrounding islands, to create a tunnel that went through the house. It was a stunning visual and one that has to be experienced to truly understand how awesome it really was. While I would have loved to play in the structure all by myself without any other tourists getting in the way of my photos, it required a lot of patience before I could get somewhat decent photos. Unfortunately the artwork is slated to be destroyed and recreated in a different manner for 2016 due to the poor upkeep. I’m sure that in 2010, it was an amazing but it might have looked too new. After 3 years of being exposed to the elements, it shows its age just as many of the other structures in the village. “Traces Blue” by Craig Walsh & Hiromi Tango was a very interesting artwork. It took place over two locations, one in the harbour and one in an abandoned house. The harbour location housed two boats. One old boat and another boat fitted with mirrors all over it. They were both moored to the pier using ropes created with disused materials from the island and tied together by some of the islanders. It is a reflection of how the island is changing, be it for better or for worse. They even erected several flags in celebration of the completion of the project, something that is rarely done these days. The second location is in an abandoned house just a few hundred metres away. The house has a rope tree that was made by the islanders, similar to the ropes used to moor the boats. They also projected interviews with the islanders onto a large wooden plank creating a ghostly image for the interviews. It was a very haunting image and because I couldn’t understand everything they were saying, it felt as if the island was dying at the same time.
Ieura is the central port area of Teshima and home to some of the larger art houses on the island. As I walked back from Kou, I was slightly lost as some of the signs pointing to the different art installations were not properly installed, or they shifted due to the winds. Thankfully my trusty guidebook with maps helped me keep my bearings and I was able to find the 2.5 houses that were open in spring. Since I was coming from Kou, the first house I ran into was the “Teshima Yokoo House”, designed by Yuko Nagayama and art by Tadanori Yokoo. Unfortunately it was still under construction when I arrived so I couldn’t go in and see it, but from the model that I saw in Shibuya in February, it looks like it will be amazing. Inside they will have photos and unless I was imagining things, the circular column will have photos of hundreds of different people. I then stumbled upon “’100 Years Darkenss’, and more” by Susumu Kinoshita. It took place in an abandoned house, of course, and had a few large drawings. As I entered the house, I was told to read a 5 page story, in Japanese. My illiteracy in Japanese basically led me to fake read the story before looking at the drawings. The drawings were all done in pencil and placed in dark rooms. They request you to let your eyes adjust so that you can see the detail in the drawings. Each drawing was so realistic that I assumed they were actually photos! I then headed to “Was du liebst, bringt dich auch zum weinen (Japanese Franchise Version)” by Tobias Rehberger. It can also be known as “Il Vento” which is the name of the café that occupies this house. Tobias Rehberger recreated his original house from the 2009 Venince Biennale, hence the Japanese Franchise Version moniker. During the festival, those with Triennale passports can enter for free and also take photos. Otherwise, you have to buy a drink to enter for free or pay the 300 yen cover charge. It was a very trippy place to visit but I felt it was a little too modern and a bit too loud to fit in with the other art that I saw at the festival.
Both the Kou and Ieura districts were great. I would love to visit them again and I missed visiting one exhibit in the Kou district as it was not finished in time for the spring edition. The problem with this festival is that the artworks are changing with time. Some are available in the spring, while others are available in summer and autumn respectively. I really wish I could visit the Setouchi Triennale each season but my pocketbook is way too light these days. There is just so much to see and do in Teshima that even a full day may not be enough to see everything. The best bet, spend a couple half days to see as much as you can and you will leave very satisfied.
Teshima – Kou and Ieura is part of a series of posts on the Setouchi Triennale, and half of a two part series on Teshima. Follow the links below to read more about the different aspects of the Setouchi Triennale.
- Dru’s Great Setouchi Triennale 2013 Misadventure
- EAT&ART TARO on Shamijima
- Food of Inujima
- Teshima – Karato
- Eating on Teshima
- Ogijima (Part I)
- Ogijima (Part II)
- ONBA CAFE
- Naoshima (Benesse Art Site)
- Naoshima (Honmura & Miyanoura)
- Naoshima (Transportation)
- Takamatsu Revisited
- Takamatsu (Setouchi Triennale Edition)
- Ferries in the Setouchi Triennale
- Teshima (Setouchi Triennale Official Site)
- Teshima (Benesse Site)
- Teshima (Japan Guide)
- Was du liebst, bringt dich auch zum weinen/Il Vento (Ogijima.com)
- Il Vento (Official Site – Japanese)