Swimming With The Neon Fish

Come on, even you exquisitely jaded experience junkies want to do this, admit it!

I’ve been to TeamLab’s “Planets” exhibition before, but this week I jumped into the newest version and it did not disappoint. The offerings were generally the same, but they’ve been freshened up so that the experience was just as much fun the second time around.

The mirrored room with animated koi and flowers projected onto knee-deep cloudy water is given a seasonal twist by twirling red maple leaves and chrysanthemums that bloom and fall apart as you wade through them

As the music swells, the flowers, fish and leaves glow ever brighter and more animated…

…until finally they begin to trail streamers of color behind them, tracing interlacing patterns through the darkened sea

Here’s what it felt like to be wading around among the fish & flowers:

And before you move on to the next part of the attraction, don’t miss the small side room featuring this lovely piece of slowly spinning, morphing art, staged with utmost simplicity above a serene reflecting pool.

The animation slowly rotates as the seasons change, the bare branches blooming and growing with every turn

I have to warn you that the only disappointing part of “Planets” remains the first room you come to, which is an inexplicably treacherous memory foam hell that must be crossed as quickly as humanly possible on the way to the divine crystal LED maze. Fortunately, the maze is so dazzling, it almost makes you forget that you had to flail through brown pleather quicksand to get there.

When you finally arrive safely in the maze, the path wends its way through strings of constantly changing LEDs, in a sparkling room that is mirrored on all sides, including the floor and ceiling…

…which makes them look like they continue on into infinity in both directions

Here’s a taste of what it feels like to be in the crystal maze:

There is a big room where you can stand back and watch the ever-changing spectacle on a grander scale…

…and they’ve added a smaller room, where the wall seems to extend in both directions…

…and you can choose effects to “send” into the maze, and watch while your effect takes place. (There aren’t any instructions on the touchpad interface, but all you have to do is tap the effect you want, then swipe it toward the maze when it appears alone on the screen.)

The last part of the attraction is unchanged, but still meditatively entertaining.

In this room, you lie in the middle of a planetarium-like dome with a mirrored floor, while flowers bloom and die as they whiz past you in the vastness of outer space. If you look carefully at the lower left part of this photo, you can see two people sitting, with the constantly changing wall projections mirrored in the floor

Note: Enjoying this exhibition is a little challenging, because you have to experience it barefoot. Before you go in, you have to put shoes & socks and all your belongings in a (free) locker for the duration. You’ll get wet up to your knees (even if you’re an adult) so wear pants/skirt that can be rolled/hitched up and not drag in the water. They do rent shorts for the unprepared and there are changing rooms, but it’s easier if you just wear clothes that work. All visitors are loaned clear cellphone cases with neck lanyards so you don’t drop your phone in the water while taking pix. 

Also, if you’re like me, and are deathly suspicious of vast pools of warm water that have been waded in by god knows how many unwashed members of the general public, don’t be. It’s Japan! The water in the fish & flowers room is not only comfortably warm, it’s absolutely, spectacularly clean, and devoid of the nasty hairballs and dead bandaids that always seem to plague American water parks.

Admission: Adults: ¥3,200; Ages 13-17: ¥2,400; Ages 4-12: ¥800; Ages 65+: ¥2,400; Disability discount: ¥1,600

Exhibition dates: July 7, 2018 – December 31, 2018 (It has been extended at least until the end of the year. Check website for details.)

Hours: Weekdays: 10:00 – 23:00 (last entrance at 22:00); Sundays, Saturdays, and National Holidays: 9:00 – 23:00 (last entrance at 22:00)

It’s right next to the Shin-Toyosu Yurikamome monorail station at: Toyosu 6-1-16, Koto-ku, Tokyo

More info and advance tickets can be had on the Teamlab “Planets” website

When not striding purposefully through animated fish & flowers, Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Tokyo

When Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death wasn’t an accident, his life begins to unravel…read more

Here’s the one-minute trailer….