I first read about the Setouchi Triennale last December when Silvia posted about her trip to various art islands off Okayama. I was inspired. It is everything I love: island hopping and pretentious public art pieces. I had to go.
Now the best way to go between all the islands is to stay a night or two on one of them, or in a mainland city with ferry access. Unfortunately, that’s not what I did.
(In hindsight, I would’ve skipped Osaka and gone straight from the airport straight to Okayama or Setouchi, so I could’ve had two days to explore more islands, but you know what they say about hindsight. (It’s 20/20.))
The festival is currently in its last phase until November 4, so there is increased ferry service to various islands. I chose Inujima because it’s the smallest and you can easily walk the whole island in 6 hours.
The exhibits on Inujima are all in pretty close proximity; you could do the full loop in about an hour. The first part is in the old copper refinery which has mostly withered away, making it sufficiently spooky and melancholy a place for contemporary art. All the other exhibits are spread out in “houses” and small plots of land.
Getting to Inujima is pretty thoroughly detailed here, although if you go after the Triennale is over, or during the week, the service will probably be reduced. I went to Inujima via the bullet train to Okayama, the JR local to Saidaiji, then the bus to Hoden and the ferry from there. But on the way back I opted to take the ferry straight to a bridge in Okayama to cut out about an hour (although it cost 2000¥ so it was considerably more expensive). When you board the ferry in Hoden there is an informational both with pamphlets about all the available ferries, sites and restaurants on the island.
The whole island costs ¥2060 if you don’t already have the Setouchi Triennale passport. You need the ticket to get into the museum, and some of the art houses have a guard checking tickets, but others don’t. It’s also free to just roam around the island, and there is a swimming beach on the south side.
It’s such a beautiful way to spend your day, I wish I had planned more time to see the other islands! Maybe I’ll come back for the next on, three years from now.