What To Expect At teamLab Planets TOKYO | CoolJapan

If you’re into art and museums, you probably already have teamLab Borderless Tokyo on your radar. By art collective teamLab, Borderless offers “a world of artworks without boundaries”, allowing visitors to have an interactive experience instead of just being distant admirers. We’ve previously shared tips for a great experience when visiting Borderless, but did you know there is actually another museum by the same team in Tokyo?

A temporary exhibit originally slated to end its term in Autumn 2020, teamLab Planets TOKYO recently announced the extension of its term to the end of 2022 (with a new public outdoor artwork!). Read on to find out more about what to expect at this art museum.

teamLab Borderless Tokyo

“Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers” lets you enter a space that is covered entirely in flowers. Sit, or even lie down to observe the flowers pass you by. Oddly therapeutic.

What’s at teamLab Planets TOKYO?

The best phrase to describe Planets is that it's “body immersive”. You’re in for an experience that's different from all other museums you've been to. With just seven indoor exhibits in four exhibition spaces, Planets presents not a plethora of static artworks, but ample space for you to fully immerse yourself into each piece of immersive art.

At “The Infinite Crystal Universe”, where the combination of lights and mirrors gives you infinite shot possibilities.

To be honest, having been to Borderless before Planets, a part of me thought I knew what to expect. After all, there are two exhibits — “The Infinite Crystal Universe” and “Expanding Three-Dimensional Existence in Transforming Space - Free Floating, 12 Colors” — which are quite similar to the ones at Borderless. But I was wrong. While the experience for these two exhibits was not drastically different from the one I had with their counterparts at Borderless, each exhibit was a lot bigger, and I appreciated having the extra space to properly take in the experience.

As with Borderless, the artworks at Planets interact with the visitors, which means every experience is unique — you can use the teamLab app to change the colours of the lights, or just let yourself sink into the “Soft Black Hole - Your Body Becomes a Space that Influences Another Body” to feel how your every movement affects the artwork, as well as the visitors around you.

teamLab Borderless Tokyo

Artwork - “Cold Life”

A personal favourite of mine is “Cold Life”, a digital work that first starts off with a calligraphy of the Chinese/Japanese character for “life”, slowly transforming into a tree, from which more life forms proceed to grow. Tucked away at a corner of the same space as “Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People - Infinity”, “Cold Life” is probably the smallest exhibit in the entire museum. If you’re lucky enough to be able to have the space to yourself, you could make yourself comfortable at the small bench available before the artwork, and watch the full video while thinking about how life is interconnected in more ways than we can imagine.

Handy pre-visit tips

Directions at the entrance provided in four languages (Chinese, English, Japanese and Korean) to cater to international visitors.

It’s a 100 per cent barefooted experience

Right at the entrance, the visitors are asked to remove their footwear and store them in the lockers provided. Some exhibits require you to get into the water, including one that can have water levels raise up to as high as knee levels for adults. Towels are provided outside each exhibition space involving water for you to dry off. There are also alternative routes if you’d prefer to skip certain exhibits.

teamlab Planets TOKYO"Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People - Infinity", 2016-2018, Interactive Digital Installation, Endless, Sound: Hideaki Takashi © teamLab. (Photo from: teamLab)

The flowers in this exhibit change seasonally, and visitors can expect to see sunflowers from 16 July to 2 August this summer.

Have something to keep your digital devices safe from water

As mentioned, there are exhibits involving water, so to make sure your digital devices don’t end up becoming unintended casualties from your visit to Planets, it’d be nice to bring along a waterproof pouch to hold them during your time in the museum. Be sure to charge them before you go though, so you can take all the photos and videos to remember this experience by in years to come.

Wear shorts if possible

Aside from having to wade through water, there are also some exhibits that have reflective floorings, meaning wide hemmed bottoms are better for another day. The museum provides shorts and coverings for visitors to borrow if necessary, but nothing beats being able to move around comfortably in your outfit of choice.

Borderless or Planets?

Then comes the unavoidable question: which is better, Borderless or Planets? At the risk of sounding overly diplomatic, it honestly depends on the experience you are looking for. Borderless has more exhibits, no fixed routes, and is arguably more kid-friendly with some exhibits catered to children. Plus, you don't have to worry about getting your clothes drenched.

With Planets, while there may be fewer exhibits, it means you get more space to fully appreciate each one. There isn’t any fear of missing out on any artwork as there is a route that everyone follows, and you get a full-body immersive experience. Depending on the time you have in Tokyo, your itinerary and your personal preferences, you may enjoy one over another, but if you have the luxury of doing both then, why not? 

Opening hours and admissions are currently affected by the COVID-19 situation in Tokyo. Please check teamLab Planet TOKYO’s website before your visit to know the latest updates and more information about the safety measures put in place.

teamLab is represented by Pace Gallery.

  1. 1.teamLab Planet TOKYO
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