There are few places more remote. I wander along an overgrown path humming with birds and lined with rice fields before finding myself in front of a house on a small beach.

As if on cue, a woman with a blank face and a clinical white coat appears at the door and leads me silently to a windowless room. Here, I slip on a pair of headphones, pick up a stethoscope, place it on my chest — and proceed to listen to the eerie sound of my own heart beating.

This may sound like a scene from an offbeat thriller movie. But the reality is even more surreal: I have traveled to a tiny fishing island in Japan's remote Seto Inland Sea to visit a work of art that immortalizes human heartbeats from around the world.