Megijima Musings2013.09.30 by Cathy Hirano
In this post, let me revisit Megijima. Just 20 minutes by ferry from Takamatsu Port, the island's beautiful beach, great fishing, and fantastic views make it a popular summer destination, at least for people from Kagawa.
Looking down from the top of Megijima
It also has an impressive network of manmade caves at the top of one of its two steep hills. These caves, most likely made by pirates, were commandeered for the tourist trade many decades ago. Locals began advertising the spot as the former haunt of an ogre band defeated by the boy-hero Momotaro in a popular folktale.
Far below the caves, high stonewalls called ohte protect the village from being ravaged by winter storms.
But a walk through the narrow lanes makes it clear that the island community has still been ravaged by the sea of time. Abandoned homes in various stages of decay abound, such as the one below, the roof of which appears to be fastened down with a net of bungee cords.
The Triennale, as you may know, aims to revitalize the islands, using art as a tool to highlight local charms and potential and get people involved. The Oni no Ko (Ogre Kids) Project for 2013 on Megijima is a good example of that involvement.
Over 3,000 junior high school students from schools throughout the prefecture made Onigawara (ogre tiles traditionally used to decorate Japanese roofs). The cave is filled with their crazy creations, nicely accented by Philipp Artus's video installations.
This project alone must be drawing many families to the island to see their kids' creations. And they are being joined by visitors from all over Japan. (Admission JPY 500. JPY 300 with a Triennale Passport.)
Another popular attraction is MEKON, a new work by Shinro Ohtake (admission JPY500. Free with Triennale Passport). Some people reportedly came to the Triennale just to see his creations. MEKON is a collage of colorful 'junk', the detritus of modern life. According to the guides, the work represents 'life force' and 'regeneration'.
I personally loved the way Ohtake uses vegetation as part of this collage, letting nature take over the work.
I also found it promising to see several new businesses cropping up. One was a diner, serving very simple but affordable fare and run by a local family...
Oni no Daidokoro (Ogres' Kitchen)
Another was this food stall run by Kaji, a young woman from off the island. She had the novel idea of renting wall space on her homemade stall for advertising and using the proceeds to run her business (a pita sandwich and ice cream stall). It will be great if such initiatives continue to grow and spread like the plants taking over Ohtake's MEKON.
There is plenty more to see on Megijima. For more on the Triennale, see http://setouchi-artfest.jp/en/
Takamatsu can be reached by direct flights from Tokyo's Haneda Airport, by express bus from Kansai International Airport (3 hr), and by direct flights from China and Korea. It can also be reached by taking the bullet train to Okayama and changing to the Marine Liner bound for Takamatsu (runs every 1/2 hour; takes 1 hour). For more info see http://wikitravel.org/en/Takamatsu