In 1985, Tetsuhiko Fukutake, the founder of Fukutake Publishing (now Benesse Holdings) decided to develop the island town of Naoshima. The vision was realized by Soichiro Fukutake, then president of Fukutake Publishing (currently honorary advisor of Benesse Holdings). As a result of their efforts, Naoshima International Camp opened in 1989 as a campground for kids and island visitors.
Soichiro Fukutake set out to combine architecture and art with the natural beauty of the Seto Inland Sea, beginning with the opening of Benesse House in 1992, an integrated museum and hotel facility designed by Tadao Ando, one of Japan’s most renowned architects.
In 1998, Benesse Art Site Naoshima initiated a project to reconvert old houses into art spaces in the main residential area of the town. The project expanded the area for exhibiting artwork on the island while also creating opportunities through contemporary art for local residents to interact with people visiting the island.
Benesse Art Site Naoshima expanded its network of museums to other islands, opening the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum on the island of Inujima in 2008, and the Teshima Art Museum on the island of Teshima in 2010.In 2010, the first Setouchi Triennale international contemporary art festival was held on seven islands of the Seto Inland Sea. The festival was staged again in 2013 and 2016 in even more locations, attracting about one million visitors each time.