Teamlab Borderless (Odaiba, Tokyo)
Teamlab Borderless has been open on the reclaimed harbor island of Odaiba, Tokyo since 2018. For the last three years, through the pandemic, Teamlab has served up innovative Japanese digital art. With the Odaiba location set to close in August 2022, it’s time to check out this one-of-a-kind experience! For travelers who are able to visit this spring, there will be a special cherry blossom exhibit before it closes.
What is Odaiba?
Originally Odaiba was built at the end of the Edo Period (mid-1800s) as a place to stage land-based defenses in the harbor. During the 1980s, when Japan’s economy and real estate were booming, the islands were meant to be repurposed for housing and entertainment. When the bubble burst, Odaiba lay somewhat dormant until the 2000s when redevelopment began.
Odaiba played host to many of the venues of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Unfortunately, as spectators weren’t allowed to attend the Games, it was a missed opportunity for the islands to get back on tourists’ radar.
Today the islands have several large entertainment and shopping complexes, including the famous life-sized Gundam statue. Normally we wouldn’t recommend going to Odaiba unless the Gundam is a must-see, because it’s a bit far out of the way. However, with Teamlab Borderless displaying some of the premier Japanese digital art, we highly recommend checking this out while it’s still open.
Getting to Teamlab Borderless
If you’re staying in Shibuya, the Rinkai Train line offers direct service to Odaiba via Tokyo Teleport Station. From there, it’s a short walk to Palette Town (yes, that’s the name of the starter town in Pokemon Red/Blue) where Teamlab is located. While this option is defintiely easy, the Rinkai Line is the priciest local train in Tokyo. Plus, there’s a far more scenic way to go!
If you go to Shimbashi Station (JR Yamanote Line, Ginza Metro Line) and then transfer to the Yurikamome Line you get spectacular views of the city and Odaiba. The Yurikamome Line is an automated monorail that goes over the famous Rainbow Bridge on its way to Odaiba. Plus, it stops at Aomi Station which is even closer to Palette Town. Sometimes in Tokyo, getting to your destination is half the fun and this is definitely the way to go!
Teamlab Borderless Hours + Tickets
Tickets can be bought at Teamlab’s Official Site. Each ticket has a dedicated entrance time, but after you enter there is no time limit to how long you stay. We recommend going in the morning as it is significantly less crowded. An Adult ticket (15+) is ¥3200 and Children’s tickets are only ¥1000. Even with limited tourism due to the pandemic, we suggest buying tickets at least a few days in advance!
Japanese Digital Art + Tea
The entire complex uses a series of interactive digital technologies for an immersive experience. While a simple Instagram search will show you the highlights, we suggest going in knowing as little as possible. At each turn there is something incredibly cool and it’s better if you get to enjoy it without having previewed it. As such, we’ll talk about two elements here and leave the rest for you to discover!
Halfway through the museum is a small tea shop. You can order a number of cold Japanese teas and also ice cream. Why cold items you might be asking? Well, the room is set up with temperature sensors. When you let your cold drink sit on the table, a brilliant light show of flower petals swarms and settles in your tea cup. We were glad we took the time to rest here as there is a lot to see in the museum. But, instead of just taking a break, it’s another way to enjoy the unique art at Teamlab Borderless!
Digital Creations Come to Life
One of the coolest interactive components of Teamlabs Borderless was the drawing ecosystem room. There are dozens of stations where you can color in one of a number of animals. Once you have your completed product (left), the staff digitally scans it. Upon scanning it, your animal goes out into the larger room and runs around interacting with the other digital animals. In addition to being immersive, it also serves as a lesson in ecology. For instance, lizards eat frogs and frogs eat butterflies. If visitors put more frogs into the ecosystem, they’ll take over and more quickly exterminate the butterflies.
It was a really fun way to put your mark on the exhibit!
Teamlab Borderless or Teamlab Planets
There is so much to see and do in Teamlabs Borderless. We spent roughly 3 hours there and felt that was a leisurely pace with which we got to explore and see everything we wanted to. There is no prescribed route, but three hours should be enough to cover the full space. That said, we made sure to have one of the earliest entrance times. By the time we left it felt significantly more crowded and made getting the best Instagram pictures a bit harder to get.
In addition to Teamlabs Borderless, there’s also Teamlabs Planets. There are fewer exhibits at Planets and the overall vibe is very different as water and plant elements are scattered throughout. While we haven’t traveled to Planets yet, we still recommend Borderless. Of the iconic Teamlabs Tokyo pictures, the vast majority come from the Borderless experience. Plus, if you’re local, Planets will be open a bit longer than Borderless, giving you more opportunities to go.
If you have a limited amount of time in Tokyo, we recommend prioritizing Borderless unless digital art is your #1 area of interest. It’s hard to balance so many different experiences on a limited amount of time. If you spend the morning in Odaiba, we recommend spending the afternoon in Shimokitazawa!