I caught the ferry to a sleepy fishing island called Naoshima which has become synonymous with contemporary art due to the creation of several art museums and galleries scattered over the island. The star attraction is Tadao Ando’s Chichu Art Museum which is set entirely below ground with all exhibits lit naturally via light voids. All exhibits are permanent which meant their galleries were tailor made- and the results are extraordinary.
I stopped off in Okayama to see Korakuen which is considered one of the three great gardens of Japan. The garden was completed in 1700 and has retained its original appearance to the present day.
Mount Koya is a mountain monastery and home to the Kōyasan Shingon sect of Buddhism. Almost 100 temples provide accommodation to tourists- these are working monasteries where you are expected to participate in morning prayers and share strict vegetarian meals.
I had been looking forward to visiting the now very famous Church of Light (Ibaraki Kasugaoka) designed by Tadao Ando, since I first saw pictures of it several years ago. I’m pleased to say it did not disappoint.
For my final day in Kyoto I decided to head off the beaten track and visit Otagi Nenbutsu-ji and Nenbutsu-ji in Adashino which is an hour bus ride from Kyoto Station. I had seen some pictures online and these temples looked a little different from the rest.
Nara is an easy day trip from Kyoto and was Japan’s first capital in 720. Due to its past it is full of historic temples, pagodas and gardens. Deer which are sacred and thought to be messengers for the gods freely roam the grounds- and are protected by law. No herbaceous borders anywhere to be seen.
Although the city of Himeji was heavily bombed in 1945 their castle survived intact- apparently a firebomb did land on the top floor of the castle but failed to go off. Not far away was on the opposite hillside sat the Himeji City Museum of Literature, designed by Tadao Ando.
Still a tourist I set off early this morning to see the Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku-ji). It had perhaps a slightly more interesting setting in comparison to the Golden Pavilion. After lunch I set off to visit the Asahi Beer Oyamazaki Villa Museum which was as odd as it sounds. The beer museum is set within a Tudor villa built in 1920 just outside of Kyoto and extended by Tadao Ando in 1995.
This is the new Turner Contemporary – an art gallery designed by David Chipperfield in Margate, Kent. It’s named after the artist Turner and points due North with the building sitting on the site of where Turner used to paint.
Since 2000 London’s Serpentine Gallery has commissioned international artists to design and build a temporary pavilion within the grounds of Kensington Gardens in Hyde Park. This year it was Peter Zumthor’s turn.