As if people needed more reasons to make Tokyo their dream destination, the unique experience of walking among the breathtaking teamLab Borderless digital museum exhibits has recently been added to tourists’ (and even locals’!) list of must-do activities in the city.
By now you must have seen the pictures and videos already. And you’re probably thinking that your trip to Tokyo would certainly not be complete without scoring those Instagram-worthy snaps. Know what? You’re right. Because a visit to teamLab Borderless is more than just a memorable photo op, it is also an experience that delivers on the promise of immersing all of your senses. The question isn’t whether you are going or not but how you could make the most of your visit.
Fret not, below I’m sharing things you need to know to make sure you can take advantage of the entire experience.
Stuff To Know Before Going
Ticket prices are as follows:
|Persons with disability||￥1,600|
Ticket Machines are actually available right at the venue and you can pay for entry using cash, credit cards or Alipay. However, since the facility offers online reservations up to two months in advance, there is a chance that they may be sold out on the date of your visit. You don’t want to find yourself having made the effort of going to Odaiba without any hope of even entering.
So, your best bet is to purchase tickets from their official website beforehand. Payments may be made online using credit cards or Alipay.
Hours and Days of Operation
teamLab Borderless operates everyday except on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month. On certain dates in October and November, they are also closed so be sure to check their website in advance.
They are open from 10:00 to 19:00 on weekdays and 10:00 – 21:00 during weekends and holidays.
Access and Location
The most convenient way to go to the facility, especially for tourists, is by train. There are two stations nearby: Aomi Station which you can reach using the Yurikamome Line and Tokyo Teleport Station which is served by the Rinkai Line.
The 5-minute walk from Tokyo Teleport Station’s Exit A is slightly longer than the 3-minute walk from Aomi Station’s North Exit. But in any case, the next thing you have to do is to look for the building that says ‘palette town’. It is the one that’s below a giant ferris wheel so it should be easy enough to spot. Once you get to Palette Town, go to the 2nd floor and all the way through the MEGA WEB building. teamLab Borderless is right next to the entrance of the giant ferris wheel.
Important tip! Apparently, Google Maps does not display the correct route. So, if you have access to the internet and would like to use the app to find your way, be sure to set the Google Maps destination to “MEGA WEB TOYOTA City Showcase” instead.
What to Wear and What to Bring
Of course, one’s fashion is always his/her prerogative. However, there are a couple of things you would want to take note of if you want to experience all that teamLab Borderless has to offer.
DO wear comfortable kicks. First of all, I found the place deceptively small to look at in pictures. It was actually huge and believe me, you are going to do a lot of walking. Besides, one of the most popular areas, Athletics Forest, invites visitors to ‘get physical’ – think jumping, climbing, rolling around. So, for safety reasons, anyone wearing “heels, sandals, clogs or other unsteady footwear” are denied entry to some exhibits. If you really can not be persuaded against wearing those Louboutins, note that you can borrow sneakers on the fourth floor. You are not the only stubborn fashionista out there though, and they don’t have that many shoes available (plus they don’t really look that nice, TBH) so teamLab advises that you bring your own sneakers.
DO travel light. Items that are 50cm or longer have to be stored in the museum’s 100-yen coin lockers. Strollers also have to be left in the luggage room so for those who are coming with infants, baby carriers would be a better choice.
DO come prepared. As I’ve noted, the place is unexpectedly big and you could easily spend at least 2-3 hours going around. Eating before coming would be a good idea to make sure energy levels are up. You may also bring drinks as long as they have caps or covers. Eating inside the facility is allowed only in certain areas and re-entry is not permitted.
DO download the teamLab app. Sure, it hasn’t really enjoyed a very positive reception from its users. The wifi/4g connection inside the museum is not very trustworthy and since there are so many people, you are basically fighting over control of the exhibits. But even if you can’t successfully use it all the time, it is an added bonus when you get to do so. Install the app from here, open it up every time you enter a new exhibit and see how you can use it to enrich your experience.
DON’T wear (short-mid) skirts. Some of the works exhibited have mirrored floors so you can imagine how challenging they would be to navigate in your minis. If you’re really adamant about your OOTD however, the facility can lend you a wrap skirt which you can use for these specific exhibits.
DON’T bring unnecessary camera gear. Monopods, tripods, selfie sticks and other similar gears are not allowed. Using them could disturb other guests. In the same principle, you may take videos but be sure not to interrupt others.
During the Visit
Expect a queue outside
Depending on when you go, the long line usually starts way outside the building. This might seem disappointing at first and the queue certainly does not move very fast but don’t worry because it isn’t that slow either. We arrived at around 11 in the morning and stood in line for about 30 mins which, for me, was fast enough considering how many people were waiting.
Expect some queues inside
I have to admit. This was a bummer for me as well. The museum is definitely enjoying some hype right now and that is evident on how long the lines are even inside the facility itself. But hey, better you hear it from me now than realize it when you get there. Especially for the very popular exhibits such as the Forest of Resonating Lamps, the wait could take up to an hour, even more. Furthermore, because of the number of people waiting, you only get a limited amount of time inside. If I remember correctly, we were ushered out of the Forest of Resonating Lamps after 2 minutes. This isn’t the case for all exhibits though.
Watch your step
Pitch black walls and strategically dimmed lights are pretty much the canvas that make this whole exhibit work. Bank on having to find your way through varying levels of darkness (but hey, that’s part of the experience). Also, there are hidden corners, irregular steps and even entire staircases that you need to climb in order to get to certain exhibits. Always be watchful of where you are going and be especially mindful if you are traveling with kids.
Connect with the art
The art in this museum is interactive so one unique part of the experience is that you get to connect with them like, literally… physically. Touch walls, stomp on the floor, climb poles, ride swings – don’t hesitate to play to your heart’s content.
The facility purposely does not give out maps to its visitors. I know this because we asked the staff and that’s what she said. Don’t expect an abundance of signposts inside either. It seems that they want the ‘discovery’ of the installations to be part of the fun. I don’t know about that but the idea is that there isn’t supposed to be one right way to enjoy the museum. Being ‘borderless’, you are supposed to undergo something dynamic. You might step into exactly the same room but by then the lights have shifted, the colors have changed and you are standing witness to a work of art that is completely different from what you have seen before. So, people are encouraged to wander and discover by themselves.
Important tip! Once inside though, you could always ask the staff where this and that installation is. It’s not like they will force you to figure it out by yourself. We did this and they helpfully pointed us to the right direction.
teamLab Borderless Areas and Respective Concepts
Though you can’t have a physical map, you could more or less get a feel for where you are if you understand the different areas in the museum and what the concept behind them is.
Mostly on the first floor, this encompasses the different artworks ‘moving freely across space’ – on the walls, the floors, your dress, your skin. They all have a story to tell and they are there to help you ‘lose yourself in the artwork world’. Don’t just pass them by. Try to understand what they are conveying and appreciate the artistry that went into creating them.
Taking up a big part of the second floor, this area was created with the vision of a ‘creative physical space’. Though it was still a very mesmerizing place for me as an adult, I highly recommend this to those who are traveling with kids. Your tots (and you!) will get to climb up walls, jump on trampolines, hop from one swing to another and many more – all while enjoying the arresting projections all around you. Watch out for the big whales! I spent an entire 3 minutes just staring at one of them.
Also on the 2nd floor, this is another area that you get to enjoy with the little ones. Future Park is designed as an ‘educational’ area. Here, you get to make your own sketches and have them reflected on the walls, slide down projected fruit fields, and interact with ‘little people’.
FOREST OF LAMPS
Every instagrammer’s dream, pictures of this exhibit is probably what made you consider going to teamLab in the first place. The lamps, which seem to be arbitrarily arranged at first, were actually carefully planned, assembled and electrically engineered to interact with the visitors. Here, the lights make you develop awareness of other people’s presence and appreciate how things that give the impression of being infinite are actually still one and connected. I’ve written more about this location below as it’s one of the exhibits you should not skip.
Important tip! Especially when the lines are not spilling out, you’d think they’re hiding the Forest of Lamps from you just because it’s quite difficult to spot. To get here from the first floor, take the exit to the right of the Universe of Water Particles (your left side if you are facing the rock), turn to your right and walk down the corridor until you see the stairs. Forest of Lamps is right on the second floor. Bonus: Crystal World is also nearby.
EN TEA HOUSE
For an extra ￥500, you can get yourself a cup of hot/cold tea (various flavors are offered). You can then watch in awe as a universe of flowers blooms from the drink set out in front of you.
Wandering is fine and all but I’m sure you wouldn’t want to go there just to miss the most popular installations. Here are some areas you just simply can not miss.
FOREST OF RESONATING LAMPS
Probably the most-instagrammed part of the museum, note that you can only spend about two minutes inside. Have your poses planned and your camera ready. Don’t forget that the lamps change colors so just as you might be thinking you already have the perfect shot, another frame would give you an entirely different scene.
This room is pretty hard to miss as it’s one of the first and largest areas you see upon entering. However, I am pointing it out here because, just like I did, you might think that its value is purely aesthetic. There’s actually so much more fun to be had here. Touching the flower projections on the walls for example, will make them wilt and scatter. If you stand in a corner which is all black and empty, flowers will begin sprouting all around you. If you have the heart for it, you can also ‘squish’ the butterflies flying about.
WANDER THROUGH THE CRYSTAL WORLD
The LED lights hanging from the ceilings here also change colors. Add that to the fact that the mirrors make the whole place seem like it extends to eternity, it is no wonder that Crystal World is also one of the most photographed rooms in teamLab. This space is a bit cramped and always full of people. Most of them make a bee line for the vacant space right in the middle of everything but if you want, you could always look for a little nook where you can take advantage of the magical lighting.
UNIVERSE OF WATER PARTICLES ON A ROCK WHERE PEOPLE GATHER
I know. It’s a mouthful. And just as the name suggests, people tend to gather here at all times. If you ever find a chance to take a solo shot, definitely grab it. If not, however, I suggest striking a pose right at the tip of the rock. The people behind you could make for a good backdrop and even emphasize the majesty of the waterfalls. Even without taking your camera out though, this exhibit is still a jaw-dropping sight that is definitely worth taking the time to stare at. It’s near the entrance as well so don’t miss it.
WEIGHTLESS FOREST OF RESONATING LIFE
This, honestly, is my personal favorite. I don’t know, there’s just something about stunningly colored hot air balloons floating about that make me feel so comfortable. I also like the cushioned floors of this area and that you can move things around while interacting with them. It definitely brought out the child in me. The lamps change colors when pushed or when someone is nearby. The change in one lamp then creates a chain reaction with the others around it. Truly a fun affair to witness.
For this one, you get to lie down or sit on a suspended net. The light exhibit is shown all around you (below, above, on your sides) so it feels like you have entered another dimension. The content of the exhibit itself changes. There is one which is like a journey into the sea that projects shoals of fishes swirling all around you and another where butterflies – giant and itty-bitty ones – flutter all around you.
MEMORY OF TOPOGRAPHY
This recreation of a paddy field would have you wading through stalks of light projections – some taller than you are. The colors in the room are changed to reflect the actual season when you go there.
This is another one that I liked so much. I found it to be a relaxing retreat from all the blinking and flashing lights. You basically just stay in the room and let the ‘Ukiyoe’ style waves lull your heart . The sound of the crashing waves was a very welcome addition for me as well.
Important tip! Listed above are just some of the most popular exhibits as well as my personal favorites. Please don’t let the list limit what you are willing to experience during your time there. By my last count, there could be up to 40 (maybe more) different artworks and interactive experiences that could be had there.
Take a Break
Unlike in most museums, you ‘interact’ with the art here and that could be a tiring endeavor. To fully enjoy, you wouldn’t want to burn out. There are designated sections in the museum where your party can take a rest. Look out for the signs that point you to the toilet as they are usually close by. Inside, there are seats and vending machines. No food are sold, however.
Highly satisfying, going to teamLab Borderless could also be a test of patience. Try to get there when you are not pressed for time. This way you really get to try and appreciate everything. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.