Making my way through the expansive installations at teamLab Borderless, I was flabbergasted. It was the same level of jaw-dropping awe that I felt the first time I used one of the futuristic toilets in Japan.
I was going about my business (as one does in a bathroom) when it started making ambient forest noises. Hearing streams of water, the rustle of leaves and crickets made me whip my head around the tiny bathroom stall in alarm. Where AM I??!!! Yep, no, still in the bathroom in a restaurant.
From the moment you step in the vast 10,000 square meter museum from the Mori Building and teamLab, you are completely immersed in an interactive, borderless world. It’s like climbing into an ordinary closet and stepping into the magical land of Narnia.
Last week I covered the wonders of teamLab Planets and this week is dedicated to walking you through the wondrous world of teamLab Borderless.
teamLab Borderless Info
📍 Japan, 〒135-0064 Tokyo, Koto City
🕙 10am – 7pm (Mon-Fri), 10am-9pm (Sat & Sun)
⏱️ No Timeslots; Best to arrive at open
⌛ Permanent exhibit
💶 3,200 ¥ (approx. $39 CAD)
🖥️ Buy tickets (2 months in advance)
What is teamLab Borderless?
“teamlab” = A collective of artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians and architects who seek to explore where art, design, science, nature and technology overlap and intersect.
“Borderless” = A permanent exhibition created by teamLab consisting of “a group of artworks that form one borderless world.” Divided into 5 sections, the artworks interact and transform with the presence of people and reflective of the name, are not confined to a singular room but rather moves freely.
Tips + Tricks
🎟️ Buy tickets in advance: Borderless tickets sell out so plan to purchase tickets as early as 2 months prior to the month you’ll be attending. For example, if you’re attending in October (even if it’s at the end of the month), buy tickets August 1.
🕙 Arrive early: Less orderly and more crowded than Planets, arrive EARLY to Borderless. Like 30 minutes prior to open early. Even then, there’s usually a long line of eager attendees.
📱 Download the teamLab app: It provides some background on certain exhibits. Additionally, in spots like The Crystal World, you can interact with the piece.
👕 Wear white clothing: For killer IG photos, wear white so the light can project onto your clothing seamlessly. A lot of the installations are meant to interact with people nearby.
🥿 Selective footwear: With uneven ground and unusual surfaces, this is not the place to wear your fancy stilettos. Plus some installations require you to take your shoes off so ones that are easy to slip on and off are ideal
👖NOT underwear optional: With and abundance of mirrored floors, pants and underwear is a good idea…unless you don’t mind showing your undercarriage to the world. Wraps and pants are available to rent for free.
🗓️ Visit the popular exhibits first: Rooms like The Forest of Resonating Lamps get so busy that you may wait as long as 40 minutes to go in. Drop by those first to avoid the crowds.
🍴 Eat before going: Even if it’s just an onigiri that you hastily stuffed in your mouth, eat beforehand. Enjoy the exhibit at a leisurely pace without distracting hunger pangs.
💵 Bring some yen: If you want to visit En Teahouse at Borderless and witness light interacting with your drink, it’s an additional 500¥ so tuck some coins in your pocket.
👃 Use all of your senses: The teamLab exhibits were meant to be interacted and experienced with all of the senses. Touch the walls. Stand in front of light projections. Some rooms even had scents!
🙈 Hidden rooms: Like everything else in Japan, certain exhibits are hard to find! Double check to avoid regret!
Rooms at teamLab Borderless:
Divided into 5 sections – Borderless World, Athletics Forest, Future Park, Forest of Lamps and the En Tea house – team lab Borderless is made up of over 50 exhibits! As I have a life and normal human needs, I don’t have the time (or inclination) to summarize all of them, but I will go over which installations were real standouts for me and cannot be missed.
By far the largest section of the entire museum, the Borderless World explores the connection between the body and how it interacts with the world. Lose yourself in expansive installations that become influenced by your presence and are not restricted to a single room.
Flowers of the Forest and the People
This is one of the first (and largest) rooms that you’ll encounter upon entering the museum. While there’s nothing physically filling up the space, you’ll be amazed at how bountiful it feels with every surface covered with projected flowers.
Standing in place will encourage buds to blossom and bloom abundantly while touching them will cause them to wilt and the petals to scatter.
Universe of Water Particles on a Rock where People Gather
The names of these exhibits are so extra…There is a little uneven mound against the wall in this vast space with lights projected so it appears like water is streaming down.
Find a spot on the boulder or stand at the top against the wall and prepare for your mind to be boggled as the “water” flows around you, the installation being influenced by your presence.
Wander Through The Crystal World
This is the only exhibit that overlaps with teamLab Planets, probably because it’s one of the most impressive.
A spectacle of wall-to-wall mirrors and endless strings of LEDs, the room sparkles and undulates in waves of colour that you can control from the teamLab app. It’s guaranteed to leave a lasting impression, if only in the form of slightly burning retinas.
Memory of Topography
You’ll recognize this room by the gently swaying “stalks” that transition through colours that reflect what real rice fields look like in spring, summer, winter and fall.
Wander along the path amid the varying levels of discs on springy poles. Don’t trying walking through them like I did! It resulted in a hasty reconstruction followed by being ushered out of the room. Ops!
Need a respite from the overstimulation of lights and colours? Take refuge in this dark, circular room and flop down on cushy beanbag chairs at its centre.
Zone out and let yourself become hypnotized by the 360 degree view of waves crashing seamlessly along the black walls.
Light Shell and Light Vortex
This installation reminded me of attending aggressive electronic shows from the pulsing music and strobes of light restlessly roaming the walls in synchronized movements.
The Athletics Forest
Described as a “creative physical space,” the Athletics Forest is ideal for kids as there are tons of (padded) areas to climb, slide down and jump around. Its purpose is to promote the growth of the hippocampus of the brain to better understand the world via the body.
Multi jumping Universe
Essentially a giant trampoline, 2-3 people at a time, jump on the spot to create a planet beneath you or leave a trail of Milky Way stars in your wake as you leap across the surface.
Weightless Forest of Resonating Life
Similar to an exhibit at teamLab Planets, this space is brimming and bouncing with plush balloons that light up according to touch.
Inverted Globe, Giant Connected Block Town
Walk into a real-life SIMS game where you can change the location of buildings and streets by picking up the soft blocks on the floor.
Light Forest Three-dimensional Bouldering
A path of coloured grips light up on tree-like poles, leading your way as you climb.
Forest of Lamps
This section is made up of a single installation but what an installation! Reminiscent of Yayoi Kusama’s lantern room, an endless sea of glowing bulbs hang from the ceiling at varying heights.
The hues of the lights “resonate” as you approach, shifting from vivid pinks and reds to intense blues to golden tones. It was pure magic, bringing me right back to Thailand’s dreamy Festival of Lights and releasing floating lanterns into the night sky.
Also one of the most popular, avoid lines and lengthy wait times by finding this piece early on. Only 20 people are allowed inside the room for a brief two minutes at a time.
Honestly, at this point I was getting kind of hungry. I only took a moment for Sliding Down A Fruit Field, a slide where you slice through fruits on your way down and nosed around this area where you could sketch and your drawings would show up animated on a large screen that looks pretty cool!
EN Tea House
As with the Forest of Lamps, the En Tea House is another section composed on a singular installation.
Fish out 500¥ from your pockets and select from an abbreviated menu of drinks. Inside the darkened tea house, your drink will be placed in front of you in a glass bowl
Watch as a flower will blossom from within, petals gently scattering across the table and walls as if carried by a breeze with every sip you take.
You can find a full listing of the works of art at teamLab Borderless here.
How to Get To teamLab Borderless
Begin your journey to teamLab Borderless at Tokyo Station where you take the Yurakucho Line toward Toyosu Station for 4 stops. Get off and switch lines to the above ground track of the Yurikamome Line. Proceed to the Yurikamome train and stay on for 6 stops before getting off at the Aomi Station and leaving the north exit.
There’s plenty to do on the man-made island Odaiba where the teamlab Borderless exhibit is located. Take a ride on the colourful ferris wheel in Palette Town, shop for souvenirs in Diver City or soak your jetlag away at the Odaiba Ōedo-onsen-monogatari, an indoor onsen amusement park.
Why Go To teamLab Borderless
The most frequently asked question when it comes to teamLab is probably “Should I go to Planets or Borderless?” My answer is that you should go to both. But not everyone has the luxury of time so here are some points that may sway you in favour of Borderless.
Size: If you’re looking for the biggest bang for your buck, teamLab Borderless is made up of 5 sections and 50 exhibits that will take you a good 2-3 hours to explore.
Kid-friendly: Many exhibits at teamLab Borderless have kid-focused activities like jumping on a trampoline or slicing digital fruit while zipping down a slide. They can even see art they’ve created come to life as an animation!
Photo Ops: The works of art at teamLab Borderless were breathtaking, my absolute favourite being The Forest of Resonating Lamps (I know, how #basic am I?). Despite the crowds, I was able to get many more photos perhaps due to more light and the exhibits being spread out more.
When I was planning my trip to Tokyo, I couldn’t decide which teamLab museum I wanted to go to: Planets or Borderless. So I did the only logical thing and went to both! If I had to choose again, I’d probably do the same thing because they’re both so flabbergasting. It’s actually like seeing real magic and who doesn’t want more of that in their life?
If you’re also thinking of going to teamLab Planets (and I highly recommend that you do!) then check out all the info here.
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