Two truly euphoric hours at MORI Building Digital Art Museum: Epson teamLab Borderless. The stunning new exhibition in Odaiba, Tokyo.
I have a bit of a story with this one too. (Don’t I always?) In summary, I nearly didn’t go. I bought my tickets less than a week before leaving for Japan.
Yeah. Two reasons for that:
- On Facebook, many travellers highlighted long queues. Queues up to an hour on weekdays. I was seriously put off by this.
- The venue, MORI Building Digital Art Museum, is in the heart of Odaiba. While that’s easy to get to, and Odaiba is probably the one Tokyo district I’m most familiar with, I was worried it would … affect my Odaiba ritual. Hard for me to explain beyond saying, I have this whole compulsory odaiba ritual of dinner at Decks, shopping at the retro Shoutengai, soaking at Oedo Onsen Monogatari, etc, etc …
To cut the story short, gosh, I would never have forgiven myself had I not gone.
All of us seek euphoric moments when we travel, yes? I was engulfed by and soaking in euphoria the moment I stepped into this amazing digital art museum in Odaiba. Without a doubt, teamLab Borderless was the most, MOST amazing experience of my recent Japan trip.
teamLab Borderless Review
To give some background information, this stunning digital art museum opened on Jun 21,2018, and is a collaboration between Mori Building Co. Ltd and teamLab, the latter a leading name in Japanese digital art conceptualisation. Conveniently situated in Tokyo’s seaside playground of Odaiba, the museum features a plethora of digital art displays, futuristic playgrounds, and even alight art teahouse.
For me, I’d describe the museum as a fairy-tale labyrinth. There are no fixed routes after entering; a good part of the joyous experience is exploration of this other-worldly realm in the dark. As for the interactive playgrounds, they are mainly for younger visitors but there are enough activities for adults/parents too. Needless to say, practically everywhere is an Instagram likes magnet.
That is, if you have a decent enough camera for shots in the dark.
How Long are Queues at teamLab Borderless?
Since I mentioned it above, I ought to share more information about the queues.
- I visited on a Monday evening at 5 pm. (Nov 2018)
- I did have to queue, but for like, 10 minutes? Half of that wait actually involved a briefing of the dos-and-don’t. That happened before entering the exhibition area.
- My quick entry is all thanks to me pre-purchasing my tickets at the official website.
Not to say there wouldn’t be queues on weekdays. Mori museum also claims mornings are the worst hours to visit. But I think I did worry a little too much prior to my visit.
A Magical World of Lights and Colours
A Living Waterfall of Light
This is easily the most stunning display in teamLab Borderless. The name is rather rambling; it’s called “Universe of Water Particles on a Rock where People Gather.” Trust me, nothing will prepare you for this waterfall of light when you step into its chamber.
A great digital art museum doesn’t only aim for “wows.” Several teamLab Borderless works were also serene and whimsical.
One wavy masterpiece was a little disquieting but nonetheless exuberant. Another futuristic installation would feel right at home in an existentialist movie.
A Symphonic Suite of Lights and Music
This light sculpture chamber was hands-down my favourite part of the exhibition! As futuristic music plays, light beams crisscross and interact to create a truly ethereal experience. I loved the concept so much I sat on the floor for half an hour, so as to watch each variation twice.
Located on the second floor of the museum, the Athletics Forest consists of various adventures emphasising the exploration of three-dimensional space. I would personally describe it as a magnificent playground of dreams and imagination, with something enjoyable for every visitor.
To highlight, two of the most popular activities in Athletics Forest are Aerial Climbing through a Flock of Colored Birds and Light Forest Three-dimensional Bouldering.
The former is an aerial navigation challenge while the latter is a bouldering course. Unfortunately, it was really crowded, and dark, at these activities so I couldn’t snap any pics. Do be on the lookout for them if you are visiting!
Last but not least, Future Park. The main attraction of this mini amusement park is a sketching/colouring area. Here, you can create simple illustrations, scan them, and watch your masterpieces come to life on a massive digital screen. (I did something weird, and regretted …)
Future Park has a counterpart permanent exhibition in Singapore!
5 Things to Know Before Visiting teamLab Borderless
- What I wrote earlier about queues. Avoid mornings and weekends. Buy your tickets online in advance too.
- Ladies, remember to wear pants. Some artworks have mirrored floors.
- teamLab’s website recommends wearing light-coloured clothes for better selfie effects (Frankly, I didn’t see that many people do it. Dark clothing, in a way, provides for different photographic opportunities too)
- I skipped the teahouse. On hindsight, how silly! Don’t be like me.
- I mentioned several times that the entire exhibition is akin to exploring a magical maze. This was thrilling for me. However, I realised after returning home that I might have missed certain sections. Therefore, it’s probably a good idea to at least go through the official website before visiting.
- How much time do you need for teamLab Borderless? That naturally depends on your pace and interest. However, I’d say you should at least set aside two hours for the exhibitions. To factor in waiting time, etc, makes it three hours in total.
Getting to teamLab Borderless by Tokyo Public Transportation
The museum is in Odaiba, which is a popular recreational district of Tokyo.
- Make your way to Shimbashi Station (新橋駅). It’s a major train interchange station on the green Yamanote train line, the Ginza subway line, and the Toei Asakusa subway line.
- At Shimbashi, transfer to the Yurikamome Line (ゆりかもめ). (Note: the JR Pass and Tokyo metro passes do not cover this line). Take the line to Aomi Station (青海駅).
- Aomi Station is right next to the Toyota Showcase and a huge Ferris wheel. Just follow the signs and crowds till you reach the museum. In short, once you exit the station using the north exit, you walk alongside Tokyo Showcase before making a right-turn, cutting through the showcase. Once you’re at the Ferris Wheel, you’re next to teamLab Borderless.
Don’t even think about skipping this amazing digital art museum when in Tokyo!