Is it worth it? Visiting teamLab Planets – Tokyo, Japan
TeamLab Planets – a wildly popular experience on social media for all the travel and Tokyo influencers. Typically there are two museums of this kind in Tokyo but the larger, more popular one (teamLab Borderless) was in the process of being relocated. So that meant anyone wanting to experience a teamLabs in Tokyo had to go to teamLab Planets. I was a bit skeptical of the experience but I decided it was a good test to see if it was worth the hype. With over 16,000 reviews on Google and counting, it is holding at 4.6 stars which is pretty impressive.
Today’s weather was a bit of a rainy day so we were lucky to have our first activity of the day be an indoor one. I booked our tickets for the first time slot available. Ticket prices vary based on the day with the less expensive being sold during the week but expect to pay about 3500 yen or 25 USD. We arrived around 845AM for our 9AM time slot and there was already a line to get in. I read that with later time slots you can wait up to an hour to get it due to capacity limits so I would definitely suggest getting as early a time slot as works for you. Similar to other activities during our trip, this was sold out for most of the day so grab those tickets ahead of time.
This exhibit requires bare feet so you have to be ok with that to enjoy the experience – there are no exceptions. There is also a portion where you are in water that is calf to knee height depending on how tall you are – also no exceptions. They recommend coming in pants you can roll easily or shorts but do not recommend skirts or dresses as there are mirrors on the floors in some of the room – if you want to be social media ready with your skirt or dress, wear shorts underneath.
It was a cold day so Kevin and I brought shorts to change into – I did not want to risk not being able to roll up our pants enough for the water portion. After a pre-show with instructions, we were ushered into a room full of lockers. The use of lockers is included in the ticket price and bags are not allowed into the exhibits – and there are signs everywhere that if you drop your phone or camera into the water, it is on you.
Exhibit 1: Infinite Crystal Universe
The first exhibit we experienced was a room full of giant LED string lights with a mirror maze cross over. The lights dance to music by changing color and speed. The lights also create dimensional objects and the cool thing is the perspective changes depending on here you are in the room. We spend quite a bit of time exploring all the avenues of this room, making sure we did not miss anything!
Exhibit 2: Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People – Infinity
We then entered the water exhibit portion of teamLab Planets. The water formed a giant koi pond except the koi fish were computer programed and influenced by people. When the koi fish interacts with a person – ie touches them or the person touches the koi fish – the koi fish turns into a seasonal flower. Apparently these interactions can never be repeated since it is computer generated and not a repeating reel off footage.
Exhibit 3: Expanding Three-Dimensional Existence in Transforming Space – Flattening 3 Colors and 9 Blurred Colors
The next space was filled with giant balls that change color as people walk around or when they are gently tapped. We had varying levels of success but the effect of giant colored balls was neat. There are three flat colors (blue, red, and green) and nine blurred colors (light in water, sunlight on water plants, morning glow, morning sky, sky at twilight, peach, plum, iris, spring maple) that can be displayed. Sometimes the colors were so intense that the balls almost disappeared into each other.
Exhibit 4: Floating in the Falling Universe of Flowers
The best way to describe this room was a flower planetarium. It was one of our favorites and we could have stayed here mesmerized for hours. You can lay down and watch the flowers fall all around you and change perspective by sitting up. The flowers are computer generated so it is continuously changing as the flower bud and grow and then petals fall and die. This creates a unique show for each visitor at every minute of every day.
Exhibit 5: Floating Flower Garden: Flowers and I are of the Same Root, the Garden and I are One
The hanging orchid room is probably the most popular of exhibits as it is the one I have seen featured the most. Unlike the other rooms, this is a timed experiences so you have to wait for your group to be let in and each group has probably five minutes in the space. We questioned if all the flowers were real and indeed they are which blew us away. Orchids are used since they do not need soil and can absorb the water in the air. Since they are real orchids, this also changes the space overtime as orchids blossom and grow. We read that there is even a change in the fragrance throughout the day – we did not smell a strong scent during our morning visit but apparently that is because the fragrance is strongest at night when the orchids are targeting nocturnal insects for pollination. The flower garden is meant to create a zen like space where people become one with the flowers as the orchids lift and lower to the ground.
We spent about two hours here which is the average amount of time according to reviews. So, is it worth visiting? I have to say, despite the fact that I thought social media overhyped this activity going into this, I thought it was super cool and creative. We were certainly entertained the entire time and enjoyed the anticipation to see what was in the next area. The exhibits were really fun and immersive that I can understand are very conductive for social media but also to experience yourself. So I would say if this interests you, definitely book it for your trip. It was also the perfect activity for a rainy day, along with many other museums in Tokyo that we did not get to experience on this trip.