Tokyo day five: signs, teamLab and textures

After attending a conference the next few days were spent exploring. The morning of day five was spent fuelling up on rice balls and discovering Akihabara.

Sitting in a carriage I noticed how the advertising delicately hung from the ceiling. Wraps around handles teetered the line between flimsy and robust enough. It feels like everything in England is pretty much glued down and has to be made to withstand. Here, the adverts hung like delicate subway leaves.

The posters which in the first few days had struck me so much now were accepted. I expected to be nudged, guided at every turn. It felt comforting. As I climbed some stairs I noticed little markers to show calories burnt. This nudge to be aware of even the slightest calorie use struck me. I kind of expect to see more of this outside Japan with the common place of health counters.


The evening was spent at teamLab, Planets. This was one of the things on this trip I had been certain from the start to do and it didn’t disappoint. Words are difficult to explain something so based in pure experience. You enter barefoot, trousers rolled up because you’re expecting to wade through water. On entering you decompress through a corridor, at one end a pure pillar of streaming water. This is called a ‘body immersive’ art experience. It truly is.

Inside I found a happy cathedral of light. If I close my eyes I can almost feel myself back there now (I write this nearly a week since experiencing but the power hasn’t left me). At one point I sat in a room of mirrors and looked down. The floor dissolved and I saw down, down, through people and more people … it spiralled in colors and bodies became shapes. I felt dissolved but whole.


The experiences as you moved through them were intense. Almost as important were the spaces in-between. In these pauses you got to feel the texture of the ground, carpet. The familiar light squares guiding your way down corridors. After being in water, you got to regroup your emotions and dry your feet with a towel. These breaks were like fresh air and rejuvenated.


In the final space I lay down.  The entire space dissolved again and I found myself floating. It was meditative. Sitting up, the swaying of the visuals all around the room caused you to feel like you were drifting through space. Existing in a static space, yet moving. This truly is a fully immersive experience both of the body and mind.

Dinner at teamLab brought the most interesting food ordering app experience. There was an app you used to order, the choices were few but simple. Pick a meat or fish, then a salad. Click and checkout. It would alert you when ready. Being vegan I had to break this experience a bit, but it worked out. The little animations and way the app indicated the state was delightful.

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