100 Happy Days / Day 63: Teshima

Teshima is another island in the Seto inland sea. Over breakfast at Rojitoakari guesthouse, I learnt that 3 other girls in my room, Kaori, Yuka and Miyuki are also going there today. Yay! My new friends and I decided to set off together.

The sky is a rich blue with fluffy white clouds. I hereby declare myself as Hare Onna, which means sunny girl in Japanese. So far, besides the little one-day slip up back in Hakuba, I have been bringing good weather wherever I travel! 😀 It rained a little the previous day only because there is a self-declared ame onna (rainy girl) at the guesthouse 😛

The ferry service is sparse from Naoshima to Teshima, so we are very lucky to get tickets as the tickets are soon sold out and the next ferry is at noon.

The red pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama is right by the pier, and we lose no time in going there to take some pictures! This is even bigger than the yellow pumpkin, so big that a few people can be inside the pumpkin together.

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We board the bus helmed by an incredibly friendly bus driver. Clearly enjoying his part time job as a tour guide, he actually stops briefly at 2 attractions along the way which aren’t bus stops just to show them to the passengers and allow a quick time of photo taking.

The sea here looks more beautiful than at Naoshima; or maybe the weather is just sunnier today, making the water sparkle as if a golden fishing net has been thrown over it.

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Teshima Art Museum, the main attraction on the island, looks like something out of a sci-fi film. Partially embedded into the grassland, the white concrete domes are like alien spaceships hiding in the landscape after landing.

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The route takes a scenic turn; letting us have a great view of the sea and trees, before arriving at the main dome’s entrance. The passageway opens up into a gigantic space with 2 elliptical cut-outs. Everyone here is silent, alone inside their thoughts. Some standing; some sitting; some lying down.

“The water here is also part of the artwork”, Kaori explains to me. Then I notice small splotches of water here and there on the ground. And they are moving!

What I find most precious about the Naoshima and Teshima experiences is the element of surprise; so I shall not go into much details of the various exhibits or museums. All I am going to say is, it is truly an immersive art experience which is contemporary yet accessible for all ages, with or without an art background. Love it!

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We have to manage our time due to the irregular ferry schedule. Arriving at the Karoto port, Kaori announces that she wants to rent a bike to visit the Shinzo house. It is a place where you can listen to all the collected heartbeats around the world and record your own for others to listen to. The sea looks inviting though, and I think I want to stay and listen to its beat instead.

Upon hearing that only Kaori is renting the bike, the kind and friendly shop keeper decides to throw in 1 more bike for me, so now the cost is just 100 yen for 2 hours!

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He tells us that the sea is much nicer at the Shinzo museum so we should both go. He also recommends a takoyaki shop as we are starving by now. Loving Teshima even more because of the people!

So we each grab a beer and our box of eight hot sumptuous takoyaki balls and cycle to our lunch spot. Ureshii!! Kaori nods approvingly at my suggestion: beer and takoyaki – simply the best!

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I let the beautiful sea sing me its song; waves lapping gently against its shore. My mind wanders. Where did all these sand come from? How can I create a glaze effect like the islands and waters I see now?

Kaori really enjoyed Shinzo house and I ask her, “do people’s heartbeats sound different?” “Yes!” she replies, “The Europeans are lower in tone.” Hmm, I wonder why!

It is soon time to say goodbye to the islands and take the train back to Okayama. Looking at Kaori’s secret guidebook, I find eyes lingering at this recommended pork cutlet shop which is really famous and near to Okayama station. OK, that shall be my dinner spot!

I find the restaurant, and I am about to step inside when I hear three people speaking in Chinese. “你们也说中文的哦!"I smile to them as I go in. After all, I’m sure they are my relatives, somehow, from a long long time back!

At the vending machine where orders are taken, I learn that they are from Taiwan, and one of the ladies had just visited Singapore recently. Our tables are next to each other, so I take the chance to talk to them. After 2 weeks in Japan, I miss talking to someone in familiar Chinese!

“We are here on an eating trip,” they tell me. This restaurant must be really famous for this foodie trio to be here! Well, or maybe we just all read the same guidebooks…

This pork cutlet tenderloin is fried just nicely; not too oily and with just the right tenderness. The demi-glaze as the menu calls it doesn’t taste like the usual sauce at all, and it is the first time I have finished an entire bowl of pork cutlet rice with sauce without leaving a single grain of rice! Oishii!! OK I better start looking for some substitute words…

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Since the trio just came from Kyoto, I of course ask them for a food recommendation for my last day there tomorrow. The gentleman writes me the name of a ramen shop, 高安 near 一乘寺. Maybe I will check it out tomorrow!

Now for a long and sleepy highway bus back to Kyoto…

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