The Island Art Fair: Setouchi Triennale, Japan

Fri, 24 June 2016
Rikuji Makabe _Project for wall paintings in lane, Ogijima, wallalley_ Photo(Osamu Nakamura)Rikuji Makabe, Ogijima Wall Alley, photo by Osamu Nakamura

Looking for a contemporary art fair which takes place across 14 islands? Of course you are. Setouchi Triennale is a larger-than-life event occurring three times throughout 2016 on islands scattered throughout Japan’s Seto Inland Sea. With a carefully curated selection of local and foreign artists who marry their surroundings to their work, this left-field exhibition will impress with its mix of whimsy and innovation.


While the spring show has been and gone, the summer exhibition runs from 18 July until 4 September and the autumn viewing is from 8 October until 6 November – so there’s plenty of time to make your plans. The islands also have temperate conditions year round, so there’s no need to worry about the weather.

Where is it and how do I get there?

Your launchpad for this whistle stop island tour should be Naoshima, the most prominent island in the area’s modern-art scene. To get there, take a four-hour train from Tokyo to Uno Port, followed by a picturesque 20-minute ferry ride. After wiling away several days checking out the various venues, catch another ferry to the 13 islands which make up the exhibition (each between fifteen and forty-five minutes away).

Jaume Plensa Ogjima’s Soul Photo(Osamu Nakamura)
Jaume Plensa, Ogjima’s Soul, photo by Osamu Nakamura

Why now?

Off the beaten track but with an incredible richness of up-and-coming artists, this exhibition showcases some of today’s most revolutionary artwork – not to mention the added bonus of jaw-dropping scenery.

What not to miss

Takarajima Project/Journey of Rust by Ryo Wakabayashi on Takarajima Island – a giant boat built from old electronics and scratch metal which have been buffed to a high shine, so the vessel sits sparkling on a field looking out to sea. Dreamy. We also love Maze Town – Phantasmagoric Alleys, which you’ll find on the largest island of Shodoshima. The installation features a former cigarette store which has been converted into a spiralling labyrinth where a series of weird and wonderful surprises await at every turn.

How much?

£35 gets you a passport which can be used throughout all three seasons of the festival, while it’s £20 for a three-day ferry pass between the islands.

Room for Reflection

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