Interior of the beachfront cottage (Photo: Tsutsujiso Lodge)

Naoshima Tsutsujiso Lodge

Camping out at Japan's art island

Interior of the beachfront cottage (Photo: Tsutsujiso Lodge)
Catherine Hagar   - 3 min read

Naoshima is renowned for the contemporary art integrated into the everyday lives of the small fishing town. You are hard pressed to find an inch of the island that hasn’t been influenced by Tadao Ando or Yayaoi Kusama. Every three years, the Setouchi Triennale Art Festival breaches the shores of the island chain, and every three years it is nearly impossible to find lodging within the small island. To fully enjoy the Sentouchi Triennale Art Festival, book early at Tsutsujiso Lodge.

After visiting the islands in the Seto Inland Sea several times, my absolute favorite place to stay is Tsutsujiso Lodge on the southern coast of Naoshima. With friendly, English speaking staff, beachfront accommodations with the only public swimming beach on Naoshima, and convenient public transportation, it is a perfect hub for art lovers vacationing the island.

There are three ways to rough it at this artistic campground: a Japanese cottage, a 1960s-esque camper, or a traditional Mongolian yurt village. Each accommodation is cozy and unique in its own right. At the cottage, doze on a soft futon with the tatami straw mats beneath you, and open your shoji paper screen doors in the morning to a beautiful sunrise over the water. Or stay in the vintage-like campers and light fireworks in the dunes as you stargaze. As for my personal favorite, the Mongolian yurt, marvel at the canopy encasing beautiful woodwork within the ten, and listen to the waves crash on the nearby cliffs as you fall asleep.

In the evenings, enjoy a medley of seafood and beef BBQ, provided by the lodge’s cafe and grilled at your table. With a traditional Japanese BBQ, you enjoy slices of beef, scallops on the shell, fresh shrimp, and of course, slices of Japanese pumpkin. The pumpkin is made famous on the island by Kusama’s polka-dotted statues that can be found across Naoshima. One of her most iconic pieces, “Pumpkin”, can be found on the docks at Tsutsujiso’s beaches. At night, when the tide comes in, water swallows the docks, making the pumpkin appear as if floating along the coast.

At night, when the buses have stopped running, Tsutsujiso Lodge keeps sketchpads and colored pencils at the front desk so that visitors might practice their own artistic abilities. It’s no wonder that the beautiful beaches and amazing artworks inspire guests to pick up a pencil. There is also a star calendar at the front desk with scheduled meteor showers. Gather in the center of the yurt village to lay back and enjoy the stargazing, far away from any city lights.

The famous Benesse Art Site and Chichu Art Museum are a short bus ride from the entrance of the lodge, but be sure to reserve your tickets early to avoid hour-long lines. There is no parking at Tsutsujiso Lodge. To access the area, take a town bus from Miyanoura Port or use a bicycle rental from Miyanoura Port.

Catherine Hagar

Catherine Hagar @catherine.hagar