This blog is about travelling through Japan on a foldable bicycle (Brompton) but also by train, ferry, plane, bus or any other transport, if sea, weather, mountains or the like come between me and my desire to ride.
I have tried to summarise information that could be potentially helpful also for other bicycle travellers through Japan, such as list of bicycle roads, helpful web pages etc. Once I start my ride, I will upload the actual routes taken, together with some pictures and description.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Day 47 - Inujima art project 犬島「家プロジェクト」

Bicycle touring Japan - Day 47

In this blog post I describe my visit to Inujima art project, a very small island in the Seto Inland sea.

Bicycle: 20 m
Train: 90 km
Bus: 50 km
Ferry: 5 km
Route: Okayama to Inujima and back and then on to Onomichi. All by public transportation.
Weather: Sunny, some clouds and quite windy, 15 C

Today an other day without riding, but a lot of sightseeing. On weekends there is special direct bus from Okayama to Hoden port from where there is a very small ferry to sail to Inujima. Inujima is a very small island, only 4 km circumference and about 50 very elderly inhabitants, but it is part of the Seto Inland Islands art project, together with the slightly bigger islands of Naoshima and Teshima. I had been to Naoshima and Teshima in the past and enjoyed them thoroughly, so today I made my way to Inujima. Originally I had planned to go by bicycle and stay a night. It's about 25 km riding from Okayama, so the idea was to ride out there e.g. in the afternoon, take a ferry over, sleep on the island, visit it the next day and then come back and ride back to Okayama. However there are only 3 accommodation possibilities on the small island. One was already fully booked, one not operating and one never answered to the phone. So I decided to make it instead a day trip, but then by bus, as 50 km riding PLUS a day on the island visiting the art projects seemed a bit too hard. 

Islands, specially small ones, are for me immediately relaxing. And the ones in the Seto inland sea somehow remind me of small islands in the Mediterranean Sea. 

Inujima in addition to being a small, enjoyable island, also has a museum and a number of art houses with installations. The art museum is in an old abandoned copper refinery, which only was operative for 10 years. The bricks it is constructed off are made of copper slag. Also many other islands in the inland sea where quite industrial some 100 years ago.

Out of the abandoned refiner, an architect carved a new museum, specific to only one work of art.

I have to admit that I enjoyed only one work of art in here, and I am not even sure if that was "art" or "architecture". The entrance to this museum is below ground, i.e. the above picture is from the roof of the museum. One comes in to a very dark, straight passage way that sounds of wind. At the end of the passage way is a mirror and one needs to turn left. The mirror however is at 45 degrees and one sees all the time a very distant lighted exit. But one needs to turn. If you look back, in the same mirror, you will see an image of the sun. And then again, an other mirror at 45 degrees, and you need to turn. Again the same, distant light in front, the sun behind. Until the very end of this labyrinthic experience. Then finally you are in front of yet an other mirror, but this time facing up and showing the sky above the museum, but if you look into it, it still looks like in front of you. Very intriguing. And all this with the wind sounding.

Then the passage ends in a room with some art, dedicated to Yukio Mishima. I did neither like that art nor do I like this person... So that was quite a low point after this great entry into the museum space.

Outside of the museum the view over the inland sea somehow reminded me of ancient Greek ruins:

Or maybe medieval castle ruins?

Across the island there are a number of "art houses". Small buildings with some contemporary art. I liked this one with the different lenses, as part of a street, through which you can see the house behind it, but upside down, in thousand variations:

Right next to it, yet an other transparent building, made by the same artist with destructured, artificial flowers. It is an entirely round structure, where you can stand in the center and see through the art (flowers) the village.

Walking further on there was also this curious project. It is not part of the "official" art of Inujima, but it is still curious. On opening days (but not today) one can even go inside the dog (犬 "inu" in Japanese) and look through his eye.

Walking on an other official art piece, this time symbolizing the sun rays. (although seeing it from far, I thought initially that it would be hammock... but touching was prohibited...

It was still nice to see it swing in the quite strong wind. Today I had brought only a cardigan and not my warmer jacket, as sun was forecast. And the sun did shine... but it was also quite windy, so it became sometimes rather cold. Thus I was happy to find the one and apparently only restaurant right next to yet an other art house project and had spaghetti with spinach pesto, as surprisingly on this small island, this place was specialized in 2 pasta dishes.

Then back to the ferry, back to Okayama, back to my bicycle and luggage which I had left in my hotel and on with the next train to Onomichi.

In Onomichi the ride over the Shimanami Kaido starts, a famous cycling experience in Japan. And this is immediately noticeable. When I arrived at the station, I was not alone in dragging a bicycle out of the train (but the quickest in getting it back to roll). My hotel does surprisingly not have a bicycle parking lot, but instead invites its guests to sleep with the bicycle:

So here we are... enjoying a nice night view over the harbor that is already on the first island of tomorrow.

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