I should not have worn my red flats. The weather turned foul.
View From Naoshima
Naoshima is one of Japan’s “Art Islands“. The Art Islands are not easy to reach, getting there involves a trek to the ferry, then a twenty minute ride on the ferry, followed by waiting on buses, shuttles, and lots of walking.
Even worse we had to do all that in a downpour. Since it wasn’t raining when we left, I put on my red flats. I wished I’d checked the weather first.
When we finally arrived to the Underground Museum, we had to wait thirty minutes to buy our timed tickets. Fun, fun.
A pond near the Underground Museum.
I was sour by the time we entered the museum, my feet going squish-squish. My red flats left wet footprints behind on the first floor. My dim mood brightened as we took in the amazing architecture of the building (designed by the world-famous Andou). It’s art itself. The angles capture the eyes, painting a stark picture between steely-grey concrete and the emerald-green reeds growing in its center.
Before exploring the art pieces, we stopped at the museum cafeteria to eat a late lunch.
No photography is allowed inside the building except for in and around the cafeteria.
My meal at the Underground Museum
The view from the cafeteria
The Underground Museum contains three major works by famous artists such as Claude Monet and James Turrell and De Maria. You can see the pieces and the museum itself by clicking HERE.
James Turrell makes fascination works using illumination as an object. At the Underground Museum, you can physically enter his work (after taking off your shoes and putting on slippers). A guide leads you up the stairs and into the “painting”. It feels like you’re Alice stepping into Wonderland.
De Maria’s work is more cathedral-like. The centerpiece is a gigantic marble ball that sits in the middle of a staircase with stern warnings for visitors not to touch it. You’re not supposed to walk inside, but sound travels strangely inside. Every footsteps echoes loudly, even when you try to walk quietly.
The Claude Monet works also required slippers and quiet observation. My husband wasn’t as impressed by them the enormous paintings, even though we like many of Monet’s other works. He found them rather confusing.
All in all a very inspiring museum. It’s just very hard to reach.
After we finished, we learned the next bus back wouldn’t be for an hour and it’s likely be too full with people to let us on. The man at the bus waiting area recommended walking back to the ferry station.
So we walked, in pouring rain, for forty minutes to catch our ferry. I was soaked to the bone and not a happy camper by the end.
Once I’d accepted getting soaked, I did enjoy some of the walk that took us down winding roads and along the gorgeous shoreline. Lots of artists and workers live on the island.
After two hours we reached our car, and finally I changed into dry socks and shoes.
Our hotel did wonders to brighten my mood.
We stayed at a five-star hotel. Rare for us.
Dinner and breakfast here was terrific. The buffet offered a ton, even a chocolate fondue fountain. I raided them both.
That was our Day 6. If you’d like to see my footage from that day, then click here.
On Day Seven we headed for Gifu Prefecture under darkening skies. The bad weather wasn’t done. In fact, it was predicted to get worse with thunderstorms and heavy rains moving in.
The worst result came to pass and the ice wall at Murado was shut down. Due to this we hastily changed our plans and went to Shirakawa Go instead.
A small town of traditional Japanese straw-roofed homes
Apparently, everyone made the same choice. Traffic was awful, just awful. The line of cars stretched back for kilometers. We had to park 3 km away and walk to the village. The sky alternated between sunny, cloudly, cool, warm, and rainy throughout the day, as if nature could not make up its mind.
Beautiful shots. Volatile weather.
The light and shadow made for lovely shots.
The best time to visit Shirakawa Go is in the winter when the village is covered in snow. You need snow tires to visit by car, but it’s gorgeous, like something off a Christmas Post Card.
We stopped at a cafe with a nice view and enjoyed coffee.
Japanese toilets can do everything
The baked mochi sticks cooked in sauce are ADDICTIVE. My husband got one, then I wanted one, then he wanted another and another. Soon we had eaten six. I still miss them.
That night we crashed at another Ryokan (Japanese Traditional Inn). It was another exclusive one with only five rooms and all the baths were private. There were five baths in total and the couple or whole family could share one. I got to bath with Mr. W in an onsen.
Our room had an actually rocking chair! Can you believe it?
Haven’t seen one of these in ages.
When you finish dinner, your futons are laid out.
What comes with the room
The food was fantastic here. I liked it better than the first ryokan and ate everything.
This was the last day of our vacation. The day after was a long, long drive home through horrendous Golden Week traffic. I am a master of using my laptop battery to the last drop.
And that was our vacation in a nutshell. If you want to read about the beginning then click here: Golden Week Vacation Pt. 1