teamLab Planets Tokyo: Is this a place where Instagrammers go and click a billion selfies? Yes. But, if you go there with an open mind, you will realize something more meaningful – This is not a sprinter to be run, but a Marathon to rejoice where art is combined with technology to create an illusive world.
Art comes in various ways – Music to be heard, painting to be looked at, sculpture to be touched and walked around, built spaces to be lived and felt. But, have you thought if coding is art?- Ashrith must be happy when he reads this – Because coders are also artists here.
Not all of us can associate with art theories. Is art meant to be complimented/condemned by only artists? Nope. The teamLab planet is for all.
What is this alien-like space exactly, and why are people calling team Planets in Tokyo a place of art?
The art exhibitions rarely call me unless it is historical – But this time, an ultra-modern art exhibition space spun my head when I saw it on Instagram ( Yeah – teamLab planets of Tokyo is a huge hit among influencers)
- What is teamLab
- Why visit
- Are there two teamLabs in Tokyo
- How to buy tickets?
- How much time to spend here
- How to get to teamLab planets in Tokyo?
- What to wear?
- Other essential things to know before you go
- The art musuem
What is teamLab in Japan?
“Immerse yourself in the whole body and become one with the world with others” – This is teamlab’s concept. So how do they do it? – Like magic! A unique multi-sensory experience created by using light, water, mirrors, kaleidoscopic colours, flowers, aroma and digital effects of natural elements.
Is teamLab Planets in Tokyo worth visiting?
Once you have a good dose of shrines, high-tech buildings, history and culture, you begin to observe minute details of Japan’s technology. Like their toilets and vending machine. Those made us wonder if Japan lives in 2500, leaving us behind in 2022. But when you go to team lab planets in Tokyo, you find they are living in 3000!
I am not against any celebrated artists or art galleries. It is just that most exhibits aren’t inclusive. You stand from a distance, stare to appreciate it or condemn it. You are never part of the art. Just a spectating admirer. In most art spaces, you wish for less crowd so that you can observe something better.
But teamLab is different.
The art is inclusively presented to commoners using technology. The digital effects are coded so that the number and movement of people influence the patterns created in the exhibition spaces. So, you turn experimental to know how each installation works with and without people.
You don’t see any planets and constellations here- But you feel you are in a galaxy. You touch, feel, fall, smell and hear to get amazed.
The place is fun, illusive, experimental, spiritual, romantic, and kaleidoscopic, not only for kids but for all.
Where is teamLab based?
The name “teamLab” is neither common nor fancy like the usual art galleries. However, when I dug deeper, I learned that they are a Tokyo-based international art collective which started in 2001. It is easy to understand why art installations here are unique from the usual galleries – Because their interdisciplinary group of specialists include artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, and architects! Team Lab is a Teamwork!
They have permanent exhibitions in Osaka, Beijing, Singapore, Monaco and many more. Each of these space work on a similar concept but has different experiences. teamLab planet is located only in Tokyo, which makes it unique.
How many team labs are there in Tokyo?
There were two teamLabs in Tokyo – Borderless and Planets. teamLab Borderless, located in Odaiba, got closed on August 31, 2022, and is relocating to -Azabudai near Tokyo tower. (Expected completion 2023). On the other hand, teamLab Planets at Toyosu ( The same neighbourhood as the Tuna Fish Auction place) is open.
Both work on a similar concept – “Barefoot, immerse yourself in the whole body, and become one with the world along with others.” Borderless is supposedly bigger than the planets.
Where can I buy teamLab tickets?
- Book the tickets online in advance. The places if very famous among tourists for all the right reasons. There was a long line to buy tickets in December, which is not peak season. When you have purchased access, it saves you a lot of time.
- Printing the ticket isn’t mandatory. Save the QR code on your phone and show it at the entrance.
- Buy the right ticket online through legit agencies. We saw some guests needing help with an incorrect QR code, fake tickets bought from agents or dated differently.
- You must book a ticket for a specific date and time. You are in Japan. So ensure you are at the venue on time as specified on your e-ticket.
- teamLab Planets Tokyo sells a limited number of fixed-date e-tickets; availabilities are every 30 minutes
How long to spend in teamLab Planets?
We recommend spending at least 2 hours here- The artistic splendour captivates you wholly. But you must spend some time reading the reasoning behind it. It makes your visit more understanding and interesting. And can use phones to control some of the effects too. But trust me, you will rejoice better when you treat the place beyond a spot for “Instagram.”
We spent around 2.5 hours. And spent time munching on some vegan noodles later on their premises. They had a cosy curvy table beside the electric heater.
How to go to teamLab Planets Tokyo?
To get to teamLab Planets, you must get to Toyosu station on the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line (for Shin Kiba). At Toyosu station, take gate 7 to exit and walk 300m. You will pass Toyosu civic centre and gas science museum before reaching the venue. The straight road walk takes 15 minutes.
What to wear in teamLab planets Tokyo?
Certainly, there is no dress code to be followed here. But you must keep in mind certain things. Because we saw a few tourists struggling inside who wasn’t aware of what they were getting into.
- The Entire exhibition must experience barefoot. So, wear easily removable shoes.
- Every visitor can access a locker inside (free of cost). So you can keep your shoes and dump your backpacks. Plus, some art exhibitions are water-based. So, we kept our DSLR Camera in the locker. Walking with a free hand (and a phone) made the experience more comfortable.
- The inside temperature is regulated. So you can dump your Parkas/Jackets in the locker during winter.
- You will have to walk in the lukewarm, clean water of a foot depth. So wear any pants that are foldable up to the knees. In summer, it is best to wear shorts.
They also provide towels to wipe feet after every water-themed installation.
- Wearing a long and flared skirt is a great idea for pretty pictures. Make sure it is light in weight because there are certain places where you fall on bouncy, soft surfaces and crawl!
- Most famous exhibitions, like crystals and orchids, have mirrors on all three dimensions. So when you wear skirts and dresses, wear skinny tights under the skirt to avoid the embarrassment of getting your underwear flashed on flooring mirrors!
- If you forget to wear something under your skirts, the museum offers free wrap-around and shorts (which you must return later).
However, a brief introduction will show the dos and don’ts on a TV before they let every batch inside. So be attentive if you don’t want to struggle once inside. Plus, the staff are helpful. They always connect with the other team over wireless phones to manage the facility efficiently. And you hardly hear anything they speak!
How to get the best experience at teamLab Planets Tokyo
- The best time of the week to visit is during weekdays. Saturday, Sunday and national holidays attract a lot of domestic tourists also. So avoid those days.
- The first two hours after opening and before closing receive less crowd. Choose either of them wisely.
- We went later in the evening because of various reasons. Combine your visit to teamLab with other experiences at Toyosu; you can save a lot on transportation if you do this.
The ideal plan would be –
- Visit the Tuna fish auction at 5AM at Toyosu market – you must prebook this so that you are accompanied by a Japanese guide (The place is not open to common tourists without Japanese guides).
- Have breakfast at the market area.
- Relax at Toyosu park
- Take Odaiba Monorail to see weird things like – a statue of liberty and a strange-looking Gibli clock.
- Have lunch at Toyosu Market Restaurants.
- Have a nice view of the Tokyo skyline from the Toyosu market roof garden
- Chill at the Toyosugururi Park by the bay and head to teamLab planets later.
How many rooms are in teamLab Planets in Tokyo?
These are the eight exhibits as of December 2022. The list below is in ascending order of our favourites.
PS: The first phrase is what the creators called it, and the latter is what we felt!
- The Infinite Crystal Universe – A dream full of stars and interstellar
- Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers – Falling in love
- Floating flower Garden – Enchanted.
- Expanding Three-Dimensional Existence in Transforming Space – Breaking barriers to bring in colours.
- Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People – Spread more love!
- Moss Garden of Resonating Microcosms – The transparent Godzilla eggs
- Soft Black hole – Childhood memories.
- Waterfall of Light Particles at the Top of an Incline – Ray of hope
1. Infinite Crystals
The most interesting exhibit, in our opinion, is infinite crystal. They use the technique called ” Pointillism”, similar to the painting technique where you draw small strokes or dots of colour to a surface so that from a distance, they visually blend – This reminded me of “Mosaic art”, where tiny pieces of stones are joined to create a pattern.
It feels like a blanket of lights that creates a sculpture extended to infinity. When you walk around on the glass floor, this is going to remind you of the movie interstellar! You may sometimes feel floaty and dizzy – There is a huge space within the exhibit where you can sleep on the glass floor and watch the roof. At this point, you won’t realize if you are floating or resting.
The glittering pattern changes continuously in the presence of people. Use the smartphone to scan the QR code in a corner to control/bring in different shades of light – I wonder what the creator wanted us to experience. But at that moment, when I changed the pattern with my phone, I felt I had control over the universe for a few seconds.
2. Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers – Falling in love
This is the most romantic, soothing and blissful exhibit in the whole of teamlab planets. A continuous pattern of flowers in all shapes/sizes/ moves on a black dome ceiling. The illusion is so strong that you feel you are being showered with real flowers. Walking and watching the ceiling may give you motion sickness. So, Lie down or sit still in the space;
Eventually, your body floats, and you dissolve into the flower world. The seeds become flowers and bloom. With the season, it fades away. – Reminded me of Oogway saying, “My Time has come.”
3. Floating flower Garden – Enchanted.
Did you know that flowering plants were the last species to appear on earth? And orchids were the last of the flowers to appear, which means they are the most evolved plants. No wonder they grow happily and pretty on the window sill side without much-required light.
The pink orchids here take you to the other world.
The orchids grow in mid-air here! They are hung from the ceiling depicting a Zen monk saying, “Heaven and I are of the same root. All things and I are of the same substance,” The mirror on all four dimensions makes you feel that there is nothing else in the world except the orchids. The aroma of flowers here is amazing. And it is strange how the hung plants move upwards when people near them, creating a space for people to walk underneath! You are connected yet disconnected to the world of orchids here.
Many who saw our video asked why I walked so carefully in that garden – I don’t know! It felt lighter and fragile.
4. 3D Existence in Transforming Space – Breaking barriers to bring in colours.
We wondered how colours changed when we entered the hall with the giant spheres. We thought of cotton candy when the spheres turned pink. The blue colour felt like a water bubble trapped with each other falling on earth. Once we learned that tapping on a particular sphere’s top changes the colour, we felt powerful!
Every different colour brings a new kind of light to the space. Some colours make the room wider and lighter. While darker shades make it feel smaller – The play of light and colours is inspired by ancient Japanese silk hues. The free-floating sphere constantly moves to create space without any boundaries.
5. Water Surface with Dance of Koi and People
If you have seen a Japanese garden video, you would have seen a white fish with orange patches swimming in the pond. That species is called “Koi.” Strangely, Koi also means love/affection in Japanese!
So the Koi are trajectory onto the water. When it collides with people, they turn into a flower and scatters! The flowers that bloom will change along with the seasons.
I don’t know the creator’s intent. But I think this: You need people to spread the love! The patterns change as the movement of people changes. For example, the Koi ( fish or love) swim if they don’t touch humans. The moment they feel your knees – they bloom! Usually, we tend to be in a room with lesser crowd. But here, you will want more crowd so that you see more spectacular patterns- The more humans, the better the love spreads!
6. Moss Gardens – The transparent Godzilla eggs
This installation depicts moss -the first terrestrial organisms to appear in a world of rocks and sand where there was no life on land yet. So it continued with ferns and forests and enabled animals to live on the earth. I always wondered how moss becomes dry brown grass once the rainy season is over. And re-appear within a few hours of the shower – their colour and shape change dramatically when the air is dry versus when it is wet, such as rain or fog. Yet, Basically, moss neither dies nor lives – What a weird state of being in! And many of us may have been in such situations in life.
The egg-shaped transparent objects are a reminder of living yet non-living. The colours of these eggs on the soil change with sunset and sunrise. The intention was strongly spiritual. I couldn’t help but found these to be the eggs of Godzilla – And wondered how it would be to live with such gigantic creatures in reality.
7. Soft Black hole – Childhood memories.
As Indians, we aren’t new to walking barefoot. I grew up on a farm, and walking on soil is nothing new. But how often do we do it? Of course, the time has changed so much that we avoid undulating surfaces. But as a kid, we never had something called as “fear of falling”.
This is the first exhibit where you walk on the undulating sandy bag surface where you keep falling. Crawl, fall, get up and go ahead! The shape and height of curves change depending on who/how/how many walked in the same path as you are taking. This may be the place where kids enjoy most. So, it was filled with cheerful waves of laughter and a lot of fun.
8. Waterfall of Light – Ray of hope
A Little science to learn while you walk in water! Inspired by an actual waterfall in Japan’s mountains, light only reflects off the particles of water that make up the waterfall. The shining particles cascade down, creating a waterfall of light particles. The glowing waterfall illuminates the surrounding area. This reminds you of either cloudburst. Or makes you re-think how a little ray of light is enough to light the dark room!
What was your interpretation of teamLab planets at Tokyo? Let us know in the comment section.
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