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teamLab BORDERLESS where fun fuses with art in Tokyo

Have you heard about teamLab Borderless, the newly opened art installation in Tokyo, and wondered if it’s worth going? We share all the updated information here, along with photos, tips for visiting and more to help you decide if it’s a worthwhile addition to your itinerary. After having visited both the original installation in Odaiba and now the new one at Azabudai Hills I’m excited to share our thoughts.

Waterfall room at teamLab Borderless
Waterfall room at teamLab Borderless

What is teamLab Borderless?

Borderless is a semi-permanent digital art installation that constantly changes and moves through the corridors and between rooms. It’s a huge gallery with a maze of corridors and hidden doors that lead between the feature display rooms.

At its heart, it’s a projection art display, but its scale, interaction with the music, response to visitors touching surfaces, and immersion into the displays make it quite different from what you might have experienced before.

When we first visited Borderless in Odaiba shortly after it opened in 2018, it was, I think, the first of its kind, certainly the first we’d had the opportunity to visit, and it really was breathtaking. I expected to enjoy our return visit to the new location, but I was a bit surprised that 6 years later I was still totally entranced by the experience.

Get tickets and check availability for TeamLab Borderless

Where is the new teamLab Borderless located?

The original teamLab Borderless was located in Odaiba. That show closed in late 2022 amid teasers of reopening in a new and undisclosed location in Tokyo. It took a while, but in February 2024, the announcement came that Borderless was open again at a new site near Roppongi.

It’s below a new shopping, business and residential precinct called Azabudai Hills. The location is more central to most Tokyo attractions and accommodations than it was in Odaiba, and it is also a more convenient location to access. The Kamiyacho subway station is directly under the centre, which is served by the Hibiya line, or it’s about a 10-minute walk to here from central Roppongi.

The Azabudai Hills precinct is a large, high-end shopping centre with many cafes and restaurants. There are also quite extensive gardens and seating areas, regular community events, and generally plenty to see and do before or after your visit.

Azabudai Hills shopping and residential precinct
Azabudai Hills shopping precinct gardens

The Borderless experience

The concept of Borderless is that, well, it doesn’t have borders. There’s not a path through, no map, and no list of exhibits posted around. You are encouraged to explore, touch the walls, detour back and forth, continue on down a darkened corridor, or brush aside a curtain to see where it leads. To make it more interesting, some art moves from one corridor or room to another.

Something to be aware of when planning a visit is that many photos you see on social media and online of one person posing in an empty display room were taken for Borderless marketing or by influencers and photographers invited to create imagery during the soft opening before it was opened to the public.

When you visit now, you will be among a crowd wanting to see, experience, and often get photographs in each area. That doesn’t make it any less fun; in fact, seeing the reactions of others and the interactions you have can add to the experience. But if you are going solely to pose for the perfect Instagram sequence, that will be more challenging.

If you went to the Odaiba Borderless before it closed, the new one at Azabudai Hills is a reopening, not a completely new creation. It’s been redeveloped to fit the new space. Some halls or rooms have gone, and there are new additions, but overall, it has a familiar feel. That said, we went again, and we loved it again. It was totally worth it in our view, but possibly not for everyone.

Here are just a few of our favourite displays or rooms to give an idea of what to expect. We don’t want to create a full spoiler here. As there is no map, these are the names we gave each space to identify them, not necessarily the official name of the artwork. We think you will be able to tell which is which.

The universe of water

This is the one I would consider as central to the teamLab Borderless experience. It is the most photographed area, the rest space, the spot where people meet up if they get separated and probably the room where most people spend the most time. The waterfall above the rock along one wall is consistent but constantly changing in colour and flow, and the rest of the room follows a nature theme.

Water flows down the wall and streams over the rock, but when you touch the waterfall or sit on the rock, you, too, become an obstacle for the water to flow around and respond to. Sit and observe as flows find a new path around you and plants sprout from the ground. It all adapts in real-time, not as a preset sequence.

teamLab borderless in Tokyo

Bubble Universe

The bubbles of light are a new installation but similar to one in the earlier exhibit that used lanterns, both were excellent. You are allocated a limited amount of time in this room so everyone gets a fair turn but there is nothing to stop you going back around to repeat it as many times as you want. You are encouraged to leave and return to rooms to experience them at a different time.

Bubbles of light at teamLab Borderless

Light Sculpture

I believe this one is new; either that or I had missed it previously. Watching the beams of light forming tunnels and a laser field in front of you is really mesmerising. It has at least a dozen different formations that it goes through, and you become totally entranced by the constantly changing forms, in the end I had to tear myself away to stop watching it.

laser light tunnel at teamLab Borderless

Seasons in the Lily Pads

You walk a hidden path that weaves between the lily pads in this room. It displays the changing seasons on the lily pads in a constantly changing array, from cherry blossoms to autumn leaves and summer flowers, koi fish, and butterflies.

Seasons in the lily pads

En tea Cafe

If you want to eat or drink inside the gallery, this is the only option, although there are many choices outside to enjoy before or after your visit. En Tea is not simply a cafe; it is part of the digital art experience.

When you enter the tea room area, you choose your hot or cold drink or ice cream and are seated at the table. When your drink arrives, flowers begin to bloom in it immediately. The flowers will change and move with you as you move your cup on the table or drink from it.

I ordered the hot green tea with Yuzu for a refreshing citrus kick, and it was both delicious and fun. Although this activity is an additional cost, I was pleased that I did it for the unique experience.

Yuzu tea at the EN TEA cafe in teamLab Borderless

Are all the teamLab art installations the same?

In short, no, they are not. There are now teamLab art installations in various cities around Japan and multiple countries around the globe. Some are indoor, some are outdoor, some are limited-time seasonal exhibits, and others are permanent. They are all a little different.

TeamLab is the creative team of artists, programmers, engineers, mathematicians, and architects who design, build, and install the display.

Borderless is the gallery owner or business. The same is true for Planets (Tokyo), Forest (Fukuoka), and the Botanic Gardens (Osaka); they are independently owned and run.

Do we need to book ahead for teamLab Borderless?

It is highly recommended that you book online for the new teamLab Borderless as soon as you have your travel dates or once those dates open for bookings. When we went in mid-2024, the new venue had only been open for a few months, so booking our tickets through Klook as soon as ticket sales opened worked well. We got the date we wanted and our pick of times. We specifically wanted the morning session so we could do the Shinjuku food tour that afternoon. Three days later, I looked, and nothing was left in the morning or early afternoon.

On the day we visited in May, people turned up at the office before opening time and were told that not only were there no tickets for that day, but the other couple of other days they had available in Tokyo were also booked out. I would definitely recommend booking well ahead. It isn’t more expensive and is the only way to get the date and entry time you want.

Get tickets and check availability for TeamLab Borderless

Incidentally, if you want to go to teamLab Planets, you should also book online before you travel. This one has been open for several years at this stage, so we expected it to be much easier to buy tickets, but it was also fully booked out for several of the dates we wanted. This was the case with the Odaiba Borderless for several years after it opened. Only in the final years, with borders locked down, could you make a last-minute decision to go.

We hope that helps you decide whether teamLab Borderless makes it onto your itinerary for Tokyo. We are clearly fans and usually include art installations in our travels, especially when they are either outdoor or a bit out of the ordinary, so clearly Borderless is right up our alley. That said it really does span the age and interest groups, you don’t have to be a typical art enthusiast to enjoy this unique gallery experience.

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