Ogijima may be a small island but it makes up for it with its heart. Ogijima has a very friendly community with a lot of interesting things to see and do. While most of the art is centred in the Ogicho area centred on the port, there are other areas such as the south side fishing port and the lighthouse at the northern end of the island that has a few gems to see as well as many things you can do. It isn’t necessary to see everything but for a first timer like me, it was essential to see as much as possible and to enjoy as much as possible as well. I can see why some people would enjoy multiple visits to Ogijima.
Continuing from Ogijima (Part I), the Ogicho area has the highest concentration of art houses on the island. “SEA VINE” by Haruki Takahashi is probably one of the most delicate displays on the island. Located in a large tatami room of a house, it is nothing more than an intricately hung porcelain flower vine with various hues of blue and pink. While the idea may not sound very interesting, you have to see it to understand the beauty of this art. Each flower is decorated like any other fine porcelain china. Each petal looks very fragile to touch and they worry a lot about this artwork so much that they force you to remove your bags when you enter to prevent any accidents. Then there is “Memory Bottle” by Mayumi Kuri. It was one of the most fascinating artworks of the entire festival. It was simply a column of jars with pictures or trinkets and lights inside them along with 3 or 4 other sets acting like chandeliers. It was a simple yet at the same time complex artwork. The concept was simple but the work it took to complete it must have been time consuming to source all of the photos, trinkets, jars, lights, and then to put them together. Each photo and each object in each jar was collected from the islanders to represent their memories. From what I read, there were about 1000 jars in a room no bigger than a large closet. “Maison de Urushi” by the Maison de Urushi Project is an art house that I unfortunately didn’t appreciate enough when I was there. The house has two sections, the art section and the café section. The art section is separated into light and dark. You enter the dark section which was lacquered in black. While the room was predominantly black, there were lighter colours in the centre of each panel. They had several layers of coloured lacquer and the top layer was black. They cut through each layer to create a multi-coloured circle at the centre of each panel. I was amazed at the detail and work put into the black side of the house. The light section was lacquered in white along with a red and white weave inside one of the closets. I was a bit lazy at that point to enter the white lacquer area and I do regret that. The other side of the house was a café. They had various items for sale as well from chopsticks and chopstick rests to earrings made of wood, to keep up with the lacquer theme. Finally, there was “AIR DIVER” by Bunpei Kado. It was located at the edge of the main village and overlooked the southern coast of Ogijima. It contained what appeared to be a replica of the region complete with islands and ships. It was all suspended in air and you could walk around it to give the feeling of diving under the sea. I didn’t know I could walk around inside it until it was too late, but I enjoyed the silhouetted image as the room was dark and it was bright outside. Do be aware that the floor was pretty weak in the non-art side of the room.
It is a quick walk down to the southern fishing port from AIR DIVER. The artworks around the fishing port are more spread out with the farthest one being “Walking Ark” by Keisuke Yamaguchi. It was not very interesting to me but I can see the appeal of the artwork. It was positioned on a small jetty to protect the nearby beaches. I was expecting something more interesting based on the pictures I saw but it could have been a simple over-expectation on my part. In the harbour itself, you can see a few more boats from TEAM OGI and then there is the school, PSS40. It was a project done by “Showa 40 Nenkai” or “The Group 1965” as the official English translation goes. They took over the school on Ogijima and added artwork into the different rooms. You start off taking your shoes off as you regularly do in Japan. You are greeted with various small artworks and then head into the Principal’s office. It was a very interesting artwork to see. All throughout the hallways you will see art and in each room you will see art. I can’t list all of the artworks but one of the most interesting pieces was “Mirror Room” by Oscar Oiwa. It was basically 2 rooms, or 1 split into two, with a glass wall separating both rooms. It was like a 2-way mirror and each room was a mirror of the other. As you walk around in one of the rooms, you realize that you are not really in the mirror. You can sometimes see yourself but you look more like a ghost than a real person. It is supposed to invoke the feeling that the island is losing people and may die at any time. I was more interested in the design of the room and how detailed it was. The Group 1965 is an interesting group of artists who must be born in 1965 to join. Their main goal is to just join and show art together even though they have very different forms of art. You can clearly see it within the school and it really reflects both the group as a whole and the school itself. Each teacher is unique, each class is unique, and each student is unique.
For those with a lot of energy, or 2 hours to burn as I did, you can head north to the lighthouse on Ogijima. There is one last artwork located near the lighthouse. It is an extension of Arthur Huang’s “Houses for Light”. There are a total of 3 pieces of Arthur’s art with 2 being in the main village itself and one located about 100 metres from the lighthouse. To be very honest, I was hoping for something a lot bigger since I had to make the long walk out to the lighthouse, but I thought it was a nice artwork nonetheless. I may have been in a slightly foul mood to begin with as well, since I did miss my ferry. The lighthouse itself is a simple place to visit. There really isn’t much to say aside from the fact that you can go and see it. There is a small museum next to the lighthouse that just showcases the various lighthouses in Japan. I have been to a few of them in my time and it was fun to just see a few of the lighthouses I remember visiting, such as the one in Izumo. If you walk behind the lighthouse area itself, you run into the fire pit and beach area. The beach area has a little surprise if you are willing to go there. There are a few messages from anonymous people, well maybe not completely anonymous. Some of them put love messages, probably from teenagers. The best one was one that said “I ‘heart’ Ogi”. I got into the spirit of things and I created my own Inukshuk for the beach. I can only hope that it is still there and will still be there for years to come. If not, it gives me a good reason to go back and fix it.
Ogijima has a lot to offer and I would love to go back. I envy people who live in Takamatsu, who can go back and visit it often enough. I often think about going back to ONBA CAFÉ to enjoy a nice drink and to walk around the village enjoying the public artworks. I may have a different tone if I do it often but it was so peaceful even with many people being on the island at the same time. I can’t imagine what the island is like outside of the Triennale. The potential to revive Ogijima is there, but the art festival will only do so much. Taking a gamble on tourism is possible but I doubt many people would want to take that risk. If I was rich, I might, but unfortunately I’m not. If you happen to have several million dollars lying around and wish to donate it, I would happily invest it in Ogijima for you if you’d like.
Ogijima (Part II) is part of a series of posts on the Setouchi Triennale, and half of a two part series on Ogijima. 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 – Kou and Ieura
- Teshima – Karato
- Eating on Teshima
- Ogijima (Part I)
- ONBA CAFE
- Naoshima (Benesse Art Site)
- Naoshima (Honmura & Miyanoura)
- Naoshima (Transportation)
- Takamatsu Revisited
- Takamatsu (Setouchi Triennale Edition)
- Ferries in the Setouchi Triennale