Takeaways from the Japan Society’s symposium, “Naoshima Symbiosis for the Future”

(James Way)

(James Way)

Any buff of Japanese architecture knows about Naoshima and the Seto Islands that have been succumbing to the gentle touch and vigorous revitalization of Soichiro Fukutake’s Benesse Art project. This week, New York City’s Japan Society hosted a symposium, “The Naoshima Symbiosis for the Future: Art, Architecture and Nature,” that brought him together with key architects Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa, and Hiroshi Sambuichi.

Sambuichi’s museums, buildings, and pavilions dot the islands, making them a cultural destination. Joined by curator Akiko Miki and moderator Eve Blau, one couldn’t help wonder if Fukutake’s project is revitalizing the abandoned islands and aging population, or if it had rejuvenated him. The septuagenarian seemed especially proud of the sento (traditional Japanese bath) where one could ponder art in the nude. “It’s very stimulating,” he assured.

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