Inujima, Where Art Intersects With Ecology


WordsSolenn Cordroc'h

Inujima Seirensho Art Museum ©Daici Ano

Nestled alongside Naoshima and Teshima, Inujima is the smallest and most picturesque of the three islands devoted to art in the Seto Inland Sea. Literally meaning ‘the dog’s island’ because of a large rock that resembles a seated dog, Inujima is best known for its art which sits in harmony with the surrounding nature.

Once home to a thriving copper industry, Inujima decided to build its Inujima Seirensho Art Museum in 2008 not in a newly constructed space but to house the work inside the remains of a former refinery. Architect Hiroshi Sambuichi was inspired to ‘use what exists to create what needs to be’ in order to recycle an already existing site, in the name of best integrating with the surrounding environment. The museum is divided into six spaces, each highlighting a force of nature designated by the artist Yukinori Yanagi: the Sun Gallery, the Energy Hall, the Earth Gallery and the Chimney Hall.

In each space, works by Yukinori Yanagi present a unique reflection on the future of Japan, echoing the concerns of the famous writer Yukio Mishima, whose tragic destiny is well documented, committing suicide following the failure of his attempted coup. Mishima was a virulent critic of the modernisation of Japan, influencing Yanagi’s ecological thinking.

The museum is also a model for ecological architecture, using natural energy sources wisely, such as the deployment of mirrors, for both artistic purposes and better dispersing daylight inside spaces. In addition to this use of solar energy, the building also houses a sophisticated water purification system which uses the filtering properties of plants. All this makes for a striking, highly artistic and ecological visit.

Inujima Seirensho Art Museum

327-4 Inujima, Higashi-ku, Okayama 7048153