MeiPAM is located in the “Maze Town” area of Shodoshima Island’s Tonosho Town, and is garnering attention as a focal point for the arts on the island. The “Maze Town” area was historically a meeting point for culture and industry, and the roads were intentionally made to be narrow and winding in order to thwart pirates and enemy invasions into this port town.
MeiPAM is a multi-structure collection of old buildings that provide a gathering place for artists, art lovers, tourists and locals. The MeiPAM buildings are dotted throughout the main town area and are made up of a boutique, a rice warehouse, a printing factory, a small restaurants, and more. The buildings have been renovated to house four gallery spaces and a cafe; MeiPAM also supports an artist-in-residence program for overseas artists. The group in charge of management also hosts live indoor and outdoor music and art performances and market events several times per year. The market events coincide with Shodoshima’s historical Daishi-ichi Market days, which have been held twice a year for more than 100 years.
MeiPAM is a must-visit spot for visitors to Shodoshima Island who are interested in the arts.
The MeiPAM Art Galleries are comprised of former storefronts and residences in the Meiro machi or Maze Town area of Tonosho that have been reworked into a celebration of art, community spirit, and the historic and cultural legacy of Shodoshima.
The galleries are easily accessed on foot from Tonosho Port and are unlike anything that you are likely to see in Japan as the exhibits and installations truly reflect the heart and spirit of this section of Shodoshima.
Like several other islands in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima has accepted art as a road to not only physical renewal but also a renewal of pride in regional cultural heritage.
This is a real neighborhood and when walking through the MeiPam area there is a sense of grassroots authenticity in that these spaces are designed to appeal to the local people. The genuine feeling that this is local art is part of what brings people to the galleries from far and wide.
MeiPam 1 is a 3- storey former kimono shop that houses works by renowned Japanese artists and has a intricately carved installation near its entrance. Be sure to check out the gallery shop as well.
This former rice and soy sauce shop is now a gallery and performance space.
A former restaurant, MeiPam 3 is home to art inspired by Japanese spirits and phantoms.
This gallery contains 477 works depicting spirits, ghosts and ghouls, created by artists from all over Japan.
A traditional Japanese house, MeiPam 5 also represents spirit art with an eerie ceiling mural as its main work.
If you are feeling hungry after a day of art appreciation, “Setouchi” serves cuisine tinged with the local flavor of olive and soy and” cafe de MeiPam” offers fresh bread and sandwiches.
Access: About a 20 minute walk from Tonosho Port
ABOUT THE ISLAND
The second largest island in the Seto Inland Sea, Shodoshima belongs to Kagawa Prefecture, but is easily accessible from ferries running from Okayama Prefecture as well.
Shodoshima boasts several nice beaches, hot spring resorts, and beautiful coastal scenery on the exterior of the island, with a mountainous interior. Some of the sights on the interior of the island include the famous Olive Park, Kankakei Gorge and ropeway, and a monkey park.
Gourmands will enjoy touring a soy sauce museum to learn about the 400-year-old tradition of making soy products on the island. Sesame seed oil and olive products are also well-known items from the region. Popular sightseeing destinations on the exterior of the island include a soy sauce factory, and Angel Road, a sandbar that visitors can walk along at low tide to reach a small island (see SmartTour code SM-KAG-010).
Shodoshima is part of the Setouchi International Art Triennale; as such, several permanent installations of contemporary art are on view to visitors. The artwork creates a wonderful contrast between the modern and the traditional as well as the natural and human-made.
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