Asia Travel News

Sleep among art at the Benesse House

Over the past two decades, the small island of Naoshima has become one of Japan's most interesting contemporary art scenes. There, travelers can discover the celebrated Benesse House, an art museum that welcomes guests to stay the night, just as it lets art spill outside its walls. 

Life imitates art
Even before its opening, the Benesse House carried with it a certain gravitas, having been designed by the famous Japanese architect Tadao Ando. It was part of a larger plan to develop the south side of the island into a cultural area, and the architect's work - defined by clean, clear lines and flowing, open spaces - serves as a graceful artistic statement before people ever step inside. It is just the tip of the iceberg for what awaits visitors.

The artwork in the museum is contemporary and decidedly international. Various radical works by Jackson Pollock and Cy Twombly sit next to works by Japanese artists such as Shinro Ohtake and Yukinori Yanagi. The collection itself, set on this captivating island, is more than enough to draw tourists to its shores. However, an intriguing distinction of the museum is the attached hotel, which works to put residents as close to the art as one can hope to get.

Apart from granting special access to the halls and exhibitions, the rooms in the attached hotel feature drawings, paintings and prints by artists who are on display in the museum. 

To the shores
Another captivating aspect of the Benesse House is its willingness to break down its own walls. Shortly after the original structure was completed, the Benesse House began expanding its reach with outdoor artworks. By 1996, it was inviting artists to create unique works specifically to be displayed around its grounds. A couple of years later, the museum started installing art around the island of Naoshima. Now, Benesse Art Site Naoshima is a catch-all term for series of museums, events and installations across surrounding islands in the sea, including Naoshima, Teshima and Inujmia.

Travelers can indulge in the Naoshima bath, which is part-bathing house, part-art museum. A complex interactive installation sits in the courtyard of a now-defunct elementary school. There's even a project to convert old houses into gallery spaces. The culmination of this artistic spread is what Frommer's called a "unique symbiotic relationship between natural scenic beauty and art." While the travel guide recommends at least six hours to explore Naoshima, it's now quite easy to stay more than a few nights. 

Recommended Tours

Japan Highlights

8 days from $2,768 pp*
Custom Private Tour
Embark on this exploration of Japan's highlights, with the support of local guides, comfortable train transportation, and enough down time to truly get lost in the land of the rising sun.
More Info

Philippines Discovery: Manila & Boracay

7 days from $2,135 pp*
Custom Private Tour
As your small motorboat slides onto the sandy bank of a deserted beach and your attentive guides set up a gourmet seaside picnic, all that’s left to do is allow the turquoise waters of this remote paradise wash away your stresses.
More Info

Vietnam & Cambodia Signature

12 days from $3,720 pp*
Custom Private Tour
As the sun sets over the vast temple network of Angkor Wat, find yourself a bend in the ancient maze and soak up all the serene magic of this spiritual land.
More Info
Kensington Advantage
Personalized itinerary with private guide & driver. Award winning value.
  • Personalized itinerary that fits like a glove
  • Full attention of your own private guide & driver
  • In-country offices for 24/7 peace of mind
  • Multi-award winning
  • 30,000 delighted clients

With the inside track on the new, the old, the off-the-beaten track and the out-of-this-world, you won't find a more knowledgeable team of destination specialists.

Meet Our Experts
Curators of extraordinary experiences, you won't find a more skillful team.
30,000 Delighted Customers
"Kensington, you've done it again...perfection!"

Don't take our word for it.
Here's what our clients say.

"Fabulous trip. Every aspect from the planning to execution was excellent."

Newsletter Subscription
Have our hand picked trips, news & specials delivered to you.
Thank you for signing up!

Your details have been received and processed successfully.
Travel + Leisure : World's Best Award 2014 Family National Geographic Traveler : 50 Tours of a Lifetime Travel Leisure Award 2015