Immersed in Art and Nature
While in Tokyo we visited TeamLab Planet, a large art installation where you wander barefoot in large gardens and works of art. It was a wondrous experience, far exceeding expectations and taking us to a state of child-like wonder and glee.
We bought tickets online and were assigned an entrance time spanning a half hour. On arrival the expected queue was large and, like all Japanese queues, very well behaved. We comment often on how polite the Japanese people are, it’s not just a cliche, they really are patient, respectful and kind. As is also universal in Japan, we were ushered into the building exactly on time and it was quite orderly.
The first stop on this adventure is a very large locker room. Shoes were removed, jackets and bags stowed, and pants rolled up to the knees to prepare for some of the experiences that included water. They even announced that some of the flooring would be mirrored, allowing peeks up women’s skirts and they provided shorts women could wear for modesty.
When ready we left the locker to travel up a sloped hallway with smooth, somehow sueded walls and a river of soothing water that was neither warm nor cold. As we arrived at the top of the hall we were met with a lovely waterfall effect somewhat baffling and beautiful. At this point we were certain this was going to be a great experience. In true Japanese fashion they provided towels to dry your feet as you passed an ante room and moved on to the next experience.
After this experience we were led to a smallish room, all black, and asked if we had any heart or breathing issues. I didn’t really think about it and just shook my head, to which the usher gestured to go ahead into the room. For me this was a big mistake! It was filled with loosely packed, industrial strength, stretchy, giant beanbags. As soon as you stepped in your feet sank at different rates and angles leaving you sprawled out in the mileu. Comfortable for a nap. Nearly impossible for a heavy, arthritic gal like me. I couldn’t stand up. I couldn’t roll. I couldn’t even crawl. All I seemed able to do was laugh and sink deeper! I did finally get out (and I’m still hurting in some places from the effort), but I think they need to give you a little more information before you take the plunge. Most people managed well and the kids loved it. Great concept.
There was so much to this gallery that I won’t do excruciating detail of each installation. Rather I will try and hit the highlights and hope that you get to experience it yourself at some point.
Perhaps the most visually striking and wonder inspiring room was The Infinite Crystal Universe. You pass through a curtained door and are instantly surrounded by magical light. The floors, walls and ceiling are all mirrored so the effect goes on forever. The hanging light strings dance with color, coordinated pulsing and pure magic. Soothing music accompanied the light play enhancing the visual effect. This is where it felt like we all surrendered to the experience and let go of reality for the entire visit. There were so many beautiful pictures and video to capture, but even the typical influencers were not as annoying as usual. We all helped each other get beautiful shots while still staying in the moment enjoying our opportunity to be a child in this new world. There was no need for interpreters or Google Translate, we were all on the same wavelength enjoying this art that made language irrelevant. Most of us lingered, surrendering to the luminous beauty that surrounded us.
Reluctantly we moved, to be entranced with a completely different installation. a large room filled to knee depth with more of that perfect temperature water. This time we were free to walk in any direction or just stand, entranced by the play of light, projection and music that created the illusion of koi and sakura blossoms on and in the water with us. As we approached the fish they would scatter as in the real world. If we “touched”one it would scurry off and transform into Sakura blossoms which faded away. It was impossible to resist the urge to interact with the fish or cry out in delight as they appeared to react to our presence. Again we were surrounded by our temporary community delighting in each new discovery and sharing our wonder. We waded and played to our hearts’ content before moving along to more towels then more artwork.
One piece had us in yet another room, also completely mirrored, with spinning flowers (changed seasonally) swirling across the walls ceiling and floor. People were sitting and laying, strewn about as if in a lovely park. The effect made the floor feel like it was rotating, which could be disastrous for me with my balance issues, so we laid down as well. For a long time we just lay there, heads beside each other ear to ear with our feet in opposite sides. Our breath synchronized and we just absorbed the spectacle of a soaring dance of flowers. Once again the music helped transport us wholly into this world and connect us wordlessly.
In one artwork we were ushered into a room in groups. Mirrored again to expand the space, there were strings of blooming orchids rising and falling slowly and independently as we were allowed to pass through them. Here the smell of soil and roots, mixed with the visual extending in the mirrors, and the audible of the music, others enjoying around us and the feel of the leaves and flowers led us gently into this land of plants.
Another installation had us in a room with giant balloons, lit as if from inside in beautiful displays of color. A couple were strewn about free so that you could interact with them with movement and most were anchored to the mirrored ceiling and walls, providing a fun surface to lean against or bounce off of. There were a couple of spheres that, when touched, would change the color of all of the balloons in the room. The proportion, the colors and the music brought us back to the fun days of elementary school when we would play with a parachute, running beneath it as our classmates held the edges. Pure joy.
There was much more, but for us these were the highlights. I hope this inspires you to seek out TeamLab exhibits in the future, you may even find us there!