Setouchi Triennale Art Remains on Awashima Year-Round

  • Cave Paintings as Words and The Story of a Whale Reborn as Oxygen

Cave Paintings as Words and The Story of a Whale Reborn as Oxygen Photo by Shin Ashikaga


Japanese artist Maki Ohkojima and Mayur Vayeda of India’s Warli Tribe will continue to have their artwork displayed on Awashima thanks to the cooperation of the Island’s residents!
*In order to prevent the spreading of COVID-19, we decided to close the facility for the time being from 19th December 2020.

【Exhibition Information】
Hours: Saturdays 1 pm – 4 pm (Times may change seasonally)
Location: Awashima Artitst’ Village
 (1311-1 Awashima, Takuma-cho, Mitoyo) Formerly Awashima JHS. Approx. 5-10 min. walk from Awashima Port



What is Awashima Island?

Video courtesy of Mayur Vayeda


Awashima is a small inhabited island in the Seto Inland Sea. In 1897, it became the site of Japan’s first maritime school, and that same building now houses the Awashima Maritime Museum.


Starting in 2010, Awashima also became the site of Mitoyo’s Artist in Residence program, and the island’s connection to artists strengthened yet again in 2013 with the advent of the Seto Triennale Art Festival. Throughout the 2010s, the island has been able to exhibit an increasingly large number of artistic works.


And these works are not only by professional artists. Buoy-Buoy Garden is a showcase of unique art made by island residents.

Awashima Island Tourist Information
Access to Awashima
Eat and/or Stay on Awashima Island

The Whales of Awashima Island

closeup of the whale's heart from Cave Paintings as Words and The Story of a Whale Reborn as Oxygen

From the deceased whale’s body come nutrients that feed plankton, which then create oxygen; this is creates a vibrant ecosystem shown through coral at the whale’s heart.


Back in 2018, before her participation in Awashima Artists’ Village, Maki Ohkojima took a ride aboard the French research ship The Tara. It was on this ship that she encountered the carcass of a whale, being pecked and nibbled at by various birds and sea life.


Afterward, she learned of a minke whale that had washed ashore on Awashima’s Nishihama Beach in 2002.


A whale serving as the foundation of life after it has died; a minke whale washing up on Awashima Island. These two encounters came together in her mind and created the idea of “a whale which speaks the earth’s message.”


Including her various works such as Blood of the Sea, and Atom and Light, Ohkojima created a total of 6 whales during her two tenures as artist in residence on Awashima.

As finale to her Whale Series, Ohkojima created the whale skeleton as part of the cave installation at Awashima Artists’ Village.


Made from polyurethane and cotton batting, the whale shows us that life is cyclical: living things eat other living things, and humans, too, are just one part of this flow of life.


【An Interview with Maki Ohkojima】 
Click here to read an interview from Maki Ohkojima from June 2019.


【The Tara Project and Awashima Island】
Art and education combine in their efforts to protect the environment. Click here to learn more!


Traditional Indian Art: Warli Painting

closeup of some warli art figures from Cave Paintings as Words and The Story of a Whale Reborn as Oxygen

Warli cave painting showing a harvest


The Warli Tribe are residents of Maharashtra, a state on the West coast of India. A minority group, the Warli tend to live in small groups and subsist largely on agriculture.

The simple but evocative Warli art style is the intellectual property of the tribe, and became more widely known in popular culture during the 1970.


In 2018, Mayur Vayeda was invited to participate in Awashima’s artist in residence program through his connections with Ohkojima, and in the 2019 season he was joined by his brothers, Tushar and Vikas for the creation of the cave.


Long ago, the Warli Tribe used cave paintings to pass on their teachings to future generations. So when the time came to create their own, modern cave painting, Mayur, Tushar, and Vikas took this history into account and created the saga of humanity itself, from the beginning of the world until the creation of culture.


Hunting, dancing, agriculture. As humanity progresses, they are joined by ants, wild boar, plants, and even gods along the walls of the cavern.


These paintings of humanity’s history resonate with the circle of life as embodied by Ohkojima’s whales, raising questions of where we came from and where we will go from here.

【An Interview with Mayur Vayeda】 
Click here to read an interview with Mayur Vayeda from June 2019


Island Residents and Volunteers

Ocean Seed

The Ocean Seed embroidered by women on the island. It is intended to be reminiscent of a woman’s pregnant belly.


Cave Paintings as Words and The Story of a Whale Reborn as Oxygen was created during the period between May and September 2019. In that time, more than 50 people from off Awashima Island, as well as many of the island residents, assisted in its creation.


The cave itself was fabricated from newspapers gathered throughout Mitoyo that was bonded together with a mix of plaster, water, and adhesive. Volunteers helped with this process from the very beginning.


Between the the two artists, the women who did the embroidery, and the assistance of those island residents with manufacturing experience, these three groups created a solid, tripod-like foundation for the creation of these artworks.


Ohkojima said of the experience that “this artwork was created through the cooperation of myself, the Vayeda brothers, and the island residents.” Surely the memories of these warm relationships and time spent together will be found in the artworks themselves by those who look closely enough.


With such a diverse group of people coming together to create the cave and its contents, the entirety of its details cannot be taken in in a short span of time. If you saw this piece once during the Setouchi Triennale Art Festival, returning and taking your time to look again will bring new perspectives and new discoveries.


【Interviews with the Volunteers】 
Etsuko Matsuda, a local artist
Tetsushi Sato, a local and volunteer
Mariko Tanaka, a member of the Sea Firefly Squad
※All three interviews are from July 2019

Access to Awashima Island


Awashima Island can be reached from Suda Port. Every day 8 trips are made to the island, but those visiting Awashima Artists’ village should take the ferry departing at 9:10 am, 10:45 am, or 12:40 pm. Ferries are ¥330 one-way for adults and take about 15 minutes to arrive on Awashima.
*Ferry times and price are current to January 2020. Please double-check ferry times when making your travel plans. Ferry times can be found here (Japanese only)


The closest train station to Suda Port is JR Takuma Staiton. To reach the port in time for the above ferries, visitors should take the Takuma Line community bus from Takuma Station at 8:48 am, 10:19 am, or 12:10 pm and get off at the Suda bus stop.
*Bus times are current to January 2020. Times given are for Monday-Saturday. Buses run on an altered schedule on Sundays and holidays. Current bus times can be found here. (Japanese only)


Return ferries also run eight times a day. We recommend the 2:30 pm or 5:15 pm ferry for those returning at the end of the day. Buses back to JR Takuma Station from Suda bus stop are available from 3:11 pm and 5:40 pm.
*Bus and ferry times current to January 2020. Please check at the links above for current information


Parking is available at Suda Port for those coming by car.


The ferry to Awashima Island also makes a stop at next-door Shishijima Island. Check out Shishijima Island’s page for more information about things to do and see there.


Eat and/or Stay on Awashima Island

Awaloha Cafe

Awaroha Cafe


Awashima is home to several places for visitors to eat and stay.

From Le-port Awashima offering meals, accommodations, and one-of-a-kind sea firefly experiences, to the cute and scenic Awaloha Cafe, and the artistic guest house Art Canvas Awashima, each and every spot on the island is a unique experience unlike anywhere else.


Visitors are of course able to make day trips to the island, but anyone who wants to relax on a quiet, nature-filled island has to try an overnight stay! Check out our recommended spots at the links below:


Cafes & Restaurants
Le-port Awashima (Japanese only) Open most days for lunch
Awaloha Cafe  (Japanese only) Open Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays May-October
Takeuchi General Store Generally open every day except Sundays


Overnight Accommodations
Le-port Awashima (Japanese only) Choose between hotel rooms or cabins!
Art Canvas Awashima (Airbnb) Have the whole house to yourself!
Guesthouse Gin-nan


Many other places to eat and stay are available in Mitoyo. Check out our restaurants or our accommodations!