Setouchi Triennale 2019

Join Japanophile John McBride AM for a comprehensive visit to all 12 islands and two ports of the 2019 Setouchi Triennale, celebrating the creativity of Japanese and international artists.

The ‘art islands’ of Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan have long been on art lovers’ bucket lists, but these permanent art installations of global fame are supported by an art event every three years which extends over 12 islands. For the 2019 triennale, John will lead travellers on a comprehensive tour of the full dozen islands and two ports, engaging with the Japanese and international art collected for the event. Experience the laidback lifestyles of the islanders of the Seto Inland Sea, the ‘Aegean Sea of Asia’, and discover how the traditional culture of Japan still survives in their small villages, supported by this important international art event.

**WAITLIST** Please click ‘Join Waitlist’ if you would like to be notified if a place becomes available on tour.


This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.



Depart Australia or New Zealand in the evening on suggested Qantas flights to Tokyo Haneda Airport.

Arrive at Tokyo Haneda Airport in the early morning and transfer to the domestic terminal for suggested Japan Airlines flight at 09:30 to Takamatsu.

On arrival at Takamatsu Airport at 10:50, meet your tour leader, John McBride, and transfer to Ritsurin Gardens. Created in the early 17th century by the local feudal lord as a strolling and entertainment garden, Ritsurin is one of the most beautiful such ‘strolling gardens’ in all of Japan.

After a stroll through the gardens, enjoy a light lunch in the garden café. In the afternoon, board a private ferry for Naoshima island. On arrival in Naoshima, check in to the exclusive Benesse Park Hotel, our base for the next three nights.

This evening, enjoy a special welcome dinner at Benesse House with John and fellow travellers.


Spend a day exploring Naoshima’s Art House Project. Begun in 1998 in Naoshima’s Honmura district, the project takes empty houses scattered throughout residential areas and turns the spaces themselves into works of art, weaving in the history and memories of the period when the houses were homes.

The project is an ongoing one, and presently there are seven art houses to visit: Kadoya, Minamidera, Kinza, Go’o Shrine, Ishibashi, Gokaisho, and Haisha. One of the joys of visiting these houses, set amongst the homes of present-day residents of Honmura, is the chance meetings between visitors and residents, where art rubs up against everyday life.


In the morning, board a private ferry bound for Inujima Island in the Seto Inland Sea. One of the highlights of the ‘art islands’, Inujima was formerly the site of a copper smelter, now converted into a major artwork through the collaboration of artist Yukinori Yanagi and architect Sambuichi Hiroshi. Yanagi has subsequently worked on other ‘conversion’ projects internationally, including the Cockatoo Island installation in the 2018 Sydney Biennale. Inujima also includes a number of Ie Projects, where homes in the local village have been given to major Japanese and international artists to create installations within.

Return by private ferry to Naoshima island and visit the Benesse House Museum. One of the pleasures of visiting Benesse House is unexpectedly encountering works of art, not only within the walls of the museum but also while strolling around the grounds, enjoying the abundant natural beauty of the Inland Sea region.


Continue your exploration of Naoshima island with a visit to the Chichu Modern Art Museum, built into the hillside overlooking the southern coast of Naoshima. Designed by Tadao Ando, the museum is primarily underground and utilises natural light to illuminate artworks by Claude Monet, Walter De Maria and James Turrell.

After some free time for lunch, continue to the Lee Ufan Museum featuring works by this Korean contemporary artist.

In the afternoon, cross to Onomichi on the mainland and check in to the hotel.


This morning, take the ferry to Momoshima island. Momoshima is the home base of the artist Yukinori Yanagi, whose work would have been seen earlier on Inujima island. Here on Momoshima, Yanagi has taken over the abandoned primary school, cinema and several private homes to install some of his major artworks. After an exploration of these intriguing artworks and lunch on the island, return to the mainland.

The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure to explore this beautiful location looking out over the Inland Sea towards Hiroshima.


Check out of the hotel and spend a leisurely morning strolling through the back streets of Onomichi, visiting some of the myriad temples hugging the hillside, intriguing restoration projects and interesting old shopping arcades.

After some time at leisure for lunch in town, depart for Uno Port for a ferry to Shōdoshima island.

Upon arrival on the island, check in to the hotel, followed by dinner in the evening.


Enjoy a full day exploring Shōdoshima island and its extraordinary artworks and landscape. Shōdoshima is one of the largest of the islands in the Inland Sea, and notably includes a Noh stage set amongst terraced rice fields. The island is covered with groves of olive trees, giving it a distinctly Mediterranean feel – little wonder the Inland Sea is called the ‘Aegean of Asia’!

Dinner is at a local restaurant.


This morning, take a private ferry to Teshima island for a full day exploring one of the most important of the ‘art islands’. Teshima Art Museum is world famous and perhaps one of the most sublime contemporary structures in the world. Containing – and embodying – a single artwork, Rei Naito and Ryue Nishizawa’s Matrix, the museum is a 40m by 60m concrete shell open to the elements through two elliptical holes, forming a mesmerising dialogue between the artificial and the natural.

Enjoy lunch overlooking the Inland Sea before returning to Shōdoshima by private ferry.


Check out of the hotel and travel to Honijima island. Once the den of the 16th century Shiwaku Armada, the pirates of the Inland Sea and sometime privateers in the service of the Imperial Regent, Honijima recalls its fascinating history in the traditional wooden houses and shrines that are preserved on the island, many embellished with intricate woodcarvings. Wander through the streets of Honijima’s old town, and also see some of the works of contemporary art that bridge the span between traditional and modern Japan.

In the afternoon, transfer by private ferry to Takamatsu on the mainland, followed by dinner in the evening.


This morning, visit Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum. The museum is housed in the studio that Isamu Noguchi established in 1969 in the stonemasons’ village of Mure, and it was here that he carved the large granite and basalt sculptures which culminated his career. Noguchi’s collaborator Masatoshi Izumi still operates a stonemason’s workshop next door.

After lunch, take a private ferry to the islands of Ōshima, Ogijima and Megijima. In addition to fascinating art installations, walking along the laneways of these islands offers spectacular views over the Inland Sea itself.

Return to Takamatsu in the evening.


In the morning, board a private ferry at Tadotsu to visit the islands of Shamijima, Ibukijima, Awashima and Takamijima. Once a separate inlet, Shamijima is home to a small fishing village and art museums. Ibukijima is known for its high quality dried sardines, and has a labyrinth of hilly streets and art installations. Awashima, shaped like a propeller, was appropriately the site of a national school for the training of merchant seamen. The final island, once famous for its mosquito coils, Takamijima has scant water supplies, and a population of 1,400 a century ago has now dwindled to just 27.

Return to Takamatsu in the afternoon before enjoying a special farewell dinner with John and fellow travellers.


Enjoy some time at leisure in the morning and in the early afternoon transfer to the airport (included in tour price).

Suggested Japan Airlines flight departing at 15:35 from Takamatsu to Tokyo, followed by suggested Qantas flights from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Australia and New Zealand departing in the evening. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including any additional nights’ accommodation, either before or after the tour.


Per person, twin-share*

AUD 15,950

Single supplement

AUD 2,250

Deposit per person

AUD 1,000

*Single travellers may request to share.
Please advise at time of booking.

Final payment due

14 August 2019

Tour code


Fitness level

Above Moderate
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions


Qantas and Japan Airlines
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.


Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to visit Japan.

Tour price includes

  • Accommodation in 4-star superior hotels with breakfast daily (B)
  • Meals as per itinerary (L = Lunch, D = Dinner), including local wine and beer with dinners
  • Comprehensive sightseeing, including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Talks and lectures with your tour leader, John McBride
  • Comfortable air-conditioned coach transportation
  • Airport/hotel group transfer on arrival in Takamatsu
  • Transfer on departure to Takamatsu Airport if using group transfer
  • Gratuities for local guides and drivers
  • Hotel porterage (one piece per person)

Tour price does not include

  • International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
  • Transfers on arrival and departure if not using group transfers
  • Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, mini-bar, taxis etc.)
  • Airport porterage
  • Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)


Your hotels
Naoshima Island – Benesse Park Hotel ****+
Onomichi – Bella Vista Spa & Marina ****
Shōdoshima Island – Resort Hotel Olivean ****
Takamatsu – JR Hotel Clement ****

N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.

Hotels in Japan
– Please note that there are a limited ‘double-bedded’ rooms available in most Japanese hotels. Most rooms for two persons sharing are ‘twin-bedded’.