Everyone’s heard of teamLabs (teamLab to be accurate) or at least seen all the Instagram pics by now, especially when it comes to places to visit in Japan, but what is it like to actually visit? Here’s my personal experience and some tips and advice for people visiting teamLab Planets Tokyo for the first time, especially if you don’t speak Japanese!
Table of Contents
- What is teamLab and teamLab Planets?
- How to Get Tickets and How to Get There
- Entering teamLab Planets and Things to Know
- What to Know About The Water Area
- What to Know About The Garden Area
- What to Do Nearby
チームラボ (pronounced teamlabo in Japanese) or teamLab in English is a company which makes interactive and immersive digital art exhibitions around the world.
According to their website, they aim
to go beyond the boundaries between art, science, technology and creativity through co-creative activities.
They have both temporary and permanent exhibitions in Japan and internationally.
In Tokyo, you can find several of their public artworks and exhibitions.
Arguably the most famous exhibition in Tokyo was teamLab Borderless, a digital art museum in Odaiba. It closed in August 2022 but will relocate to a new building in the Toranomon in 2023.
The other is teamLab Planets Tokyo in Toyosu. It was also supposed to close in 2022, but will stay open until 2023.
So here’s a rundown on what to expect so you can get the most out of it!
Note that this exhibit is not recommended for those with light sensitivity. (There are detour routes if you need to skip certain rooms, but most rooms have an interactive element with bright lights.)
Get your tickets online! As of October 2022, you can get tickets up to a month and a half in advance. Same day tickets might be available but there’s no guarantee so it’s best to reserve them in advance. You must select a time that you’d like to enter. (Note that there’s no time limit as to how long you can spend inside, although plan for about 2 hours.)
- Tickets for Adults: 3200 yen
- Tickets for Jr/Sr High School Students: 2000 yen
- Children ages 4-12: 1000 yen
- Free for children under 4
- Those with disabilities: 1600 yen
You’ll be sent a QR code 2 days before your actual visit which you will use to get in.
When you arrive, you have to get in line when your time is listed on the sign outside. Depending on the crowd, you may have to wait a while. When you get near the front of the line, you’ll show your QR code to the staff. Once you’re at the very front, you’ll use the QR code to enter the gate. It will show how many people the purchase was for, so the staff will let you through accordingly.
We recommend just getting off the train at Toyosu Station and walking 10 minutes. You save the fare (189 yen) for taking the Yurikamome Line just one station. Plus the walk is quite pleasant on a nice day!
However, Shin-toyosu Station on the Yurikamome Line is the closest station and will take you right to the entrance of teamLab Planets for your convenience.
When you’re waiting in line outside, it may be quite hot or quite cold, depending on the time of year. If there’s a lot of people with tickets for the same timeframe, you may have to wait a while outside to enter. Bring things that will keep you warm or cool depending on the weather.
There are two main areas with mirrors on the floor and walls. If you’re wearing a skirt or dress, be mindful of the reflection or wear something underneath.
There’s also two sections with water and you will get wet. (Towels are provided after each of the water sections.) Wear something you can roll up to your knees, or borrow the shorts provided at the main lobby. You will be barefoot the entire exhibition.
Of course bring your phone, camera, charger and whatnot so you can get the best pictures! (Note that taking footage for commercial purposes is not allowed without prior permission.)
When you arrive, you’ll first see the large red tower called the “Universe of Fire Particles Falling from the Sky”. It’s part of the public area in front of the exhibit, so anyone can access it free of charge.
To the right, you’ll see “One Stroke Bench” and “Vegan Ramen UZU Tokyo”. As there’s limited spaces to sit outside of the main building, many families, especially with young kids, were sitting on the bench.
If you’re hungry, you can choose to eat vegan ramen or ice cream outdoors, or eat inside the “Reversible Rotation - Non-Objective Space” which is basically a room with mirrors all around including a table and stools with reflective surfaces to immerse guests in the music and atmosphere. Eating ramen in the dimly lit room was quite an experience!
As they only sell the ramen in sets (ramen + green tea) indoors, it’s more expensive than simply ordering the ramen as takeout outdoors. However, there’s limited seating outside so you may have to eat it while standing. There is a long reflective mirror-like table outdoors (called “Table of Sky and Fire” which is great for photos as you can try to capture the teamlabs sign or the red tower in the reflection with your ramen.
You can also buy flowers at the flower shop which also serves as an entrance for the ramen shop.
When you successfully enter the gate after it scans your QR code, you will be taken to a space in rows to watch an informative video before proceeding inside. They explain things like that sections of the exhibit will require you to walk through water, so your clothes should be rolled up to your knees at those parts.
(For some reason, the people in our group sounded surprised about the water part, so at least you’ll be more prepared than they were!)
You are also asked to go through the exhibit barefoot, so your shoes, socks and other belongings you don’t need can be put into lockers before you head inside. There are also restrooms at the entrance (and none during the exhibit itself as far as I saw).
There is one route for the main exhibit called The Water Area, and then another route to head to The Garden Area. They ask that you go through The Water Area first, come back out and head to The Garden Area afterwards.
The route is much more structured and linear than at teamLab Borderless. While they don’t limit how much time you spend in each room, the route to the next area is the same for all. Going backwards along the route is not encouraged, so make sure to get the most out of each room the first time (or just go through the whole thing again). There are detour routes if you need to skip an exhibit for any reason - just ask the staff.
I won’t go into much detail about what you will see as that should be saved for the actual experience, but here are just tips and advice to be prepared, especially if you don’t understand Japanese.
The pathways to each section are dimly lit, with small lights along the side. While the path itself is quite straightforward, it can be difficult to see, so stay close to your group.
Waterfall of Light Particles at the Top of an Incline
One of the first things you will experience is walking up an incline with water streaming down. This is not the main water area, but definitely have your ankles exposed as you will get wet. At the top of the incline is a waterfall you can take photos of, and then there will be towels to dry your feet off before proceeding to the next part.
Soft Black Hole
The next room is where you will be sinking into the cushy floor. It felt like an obstacle course trying to get across. It’s not the most photo-friendly room, although some people were resting off to the side, but most kept moving as people kept coming from behind. Try not to move too slowly but if you’re struggling, perhaps staying by the side is best.
The Infinite Crystal Universe
The next area is the famous room with the floor to ceiling lights. A staff member will be announcing that there’s a pocket of space further in so not to stop near the entrance to take pictures - there’s plenty of space and opportunities inside. As the pathways to that open space can be narrow, try to be mindful of people around you as they may be trying to pass.
Once in the open space, the people spread out and take photos and videos. You may have seen photos of people sitting in this area on Instagram, but if there’s too many people in the open space, the staff may ask that you not sit to encourage people to keep moving and be mindful of covid prevention measures (it happened to us). They don’t quite tell you to leave but just ask that you be mindful of others. There’s a couple of exits from this room, but they will all lead you to the next place.
Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People - Infinity
This is the room The Water Area is named for. You’ll find yourself about knee deep (depending on your height) in a pool of water, with colorful images reflected all around the room. Make sure to catch all different types of images reflected in the water - from koi fish, to seasonal flowers and plants, to different colored lights.
Just beware of potential kids who might be splashing around - we almost got caught in the splash zone of a child chasing a digital koi fish.
Universe of Fire Particles on the Water’s Surface
If you wander around the water room, you’ll find a small side room with an image of a burning fire. There may be a crowd as it’s a small space, so just wait patiently until the people in the front leave and you can move forward. There’s a small bench in the front closer to the image of the fire, where you can sit and take in the mesmerizing image. But even without sitting, you can still get some cool photos.
Once you go back to the main water room and wander further, you will find the exit.
Expanding Three-Dimensional Existence in Transforming Space
Next is what I call the balloon room. You’ll find large inflatable spheres around the room - on the ceiling, on the walls. Some are fixed into place, while a select few are free to be pushed around.
The lights change when people and the spheres move and touch. You can observe this best by patting a sphere, or when two spheres collide.
People can sit and take photos, but if the next group of people is about to arrive, the staff may ask everyone to stand up and move on to the next room.
Note that this room’s floors and walls are also mirrors.
Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers
The last room in The Water Area, you’ll find yourself in a large dome-like room, like a planetarium. Large flowers are projected and move across the screen. It feels like you’re looking up into space where someone threw a handful of flowers into the universe.
You may experience some vertigo if you’re standing or even sitting. It happened to us, so it was helpful to find a spot near the middle and lie down. It felt much more immersive and you don’t feel like the room is tilting.
Just be careful not to step on people or their belongings when exiting, especially if you feel dizzy.
After the room with the flowers, you’ll exit into the main lobby once. Just proceed straight to The Garden Area.
Moss Garden of Resonating Microcosms
You’ll first be asked to wear slippers (just grab the ones nearest to you from the shelf) to go outside. You’ll find yourself in an area with moss and shiny silver egg-like sculptures (think Aliens). You can push the eggs around, which will cause sounds. Don’t forget to take pictures of yourself reflecting on the eggs.
After sunset, the eggs will glow in different colors, so think about what time you want to be there!
Floating Flower Garden
After returning your slippers, you will be guided to the Floating Flower Garden.
Note that this is the only space that has a time limit.
Staff will explain the room to you (in Japanese). Essentially, they tell you about the time limit, and how the rows of flowers hanging from the ceiling react to people’s presence and will raise and lower based on if someone’s there.
When they give you the go-ahead, spread out and find a spot to take your photos as quickly as you can. Soon, the staff will tell you that it’s time for the next group, so you will have to clear out.
And that’s the end of teamLab Planets! Make sure to grab all your belongings from the locker before heading out!
Have some free time before/after your visit to teamLab Planets?
Here are some suggestions for things to do!
Toyosu has a beautiful waterfront area with a large park around Tokyo Bay and a large shopping mall called Lalaport. There’s a big food court outside, as well as food and coffee trucks outside, so it’s a good spot to grab some food. It’s a nice area to sit outside, but of course you can get shopping done too! You can also head over to Toyosu Fish Market (closed on Sundays), which is where the main fish market moved from Tsukiji. Eat some yummy fresh seafood at great prices!
Go to Tsukishima to Enjoy Monja
Want a more local experience? One station over from Toyosu is Tsukishima, an area famous for a local Tokyo delicacy, monjya. You cook it yourself on a hot plate and eat it with little metal spatulas when it’s ready! Most monjya shops on Monjya Street also have okonomiyaki so you can try both!
Take the Yurikamome to Odaiba
The Yurikamome train will take you from teamLab Planets to Odaiba, where you can also find many fun things to explore, including more food and shopping options, a small beach, a science museum, a TV Studio, a life-size Gundam statue, and more!
Main Website: https://planets.teamlab.art/tokyo/