What is TeamLabs (and why should you go next time you visit Tokyo)


If you followed our Party of 5 team challenge, you may remember watching videos of our group of 5 playing around in a room full of lights and mirrors, (or maybe you remember the video of me trying to traverse a floor made entirely of bean-bags.) These were snapshots from TeamLabs Planets – an interactive exhibit in Tokyo which unanimously became one of our favorite activities from the whole Party of 5 trip. (And not just because everyone enjoyed laughing at me falling into bean bags, though that was fun.)

Before the Party of 5 trip was even planned, Tim recommended the TeamLabs Borderless exhibit to all of us in a team meeting, suggesting it as a must-see the next time any of us visited Tokyo. At first when he described it, I envisioned an experience like “Meow Wolf” – a kind of darkly quirky playground for grown-ups which currently exists in a few US cities. Stephen’s been to the Santa Fe location (which you can read about here) and I’ve been to the Vegas location…but we both agreed that TeamLabs was much cooler.

What is TeamLabs?

TeamLabs is an art collective with extremely creative, “immersive works” mostly in Asia but expanding to other international locations. The exhibits vary somewhat in size and theme, but they typically play with a mixture of digital and physical elements like lights and mirrors which entirely fill the room. The best way to get an idea of what you’ll experience at TeamLabs exhibits is to browse the concepts on their website or browse the #teamlabs hashtag on social media, (though these social media snapshots don’t really do it justice).

I can’t speak to the other exhibits, but after seeing the TeamLabs Planets exhibit in Tokyo, I’d eagerly visit any of the others, even if they’re different, smaller, bigger, anything. Sign me up. For instance, I’d love to visit the Miami Exhibit TeamLabs Every Wall is a Door which has a few immersive works that we didn’t get to see in Tokyo, or the TeamLabs Borderless exhibit in Hamburg.

See the full list of exhibits here.

TeamLabs Planets Tokyo: What to know before you go

The TeamLabs Planets exhibit is in the Toyosu area of Tokyo. You must reserve tickets in advance (which you can do here for ~$28 USD per adult). Your ticket specifies a time range for when you can enter but doesn’t specify your length of stay. I recommend allowing at least 2 hours or more to soak it all in.

There’s a free luggage storage area available at the entrance and a locker area inside for smaller items – so you can even visit on your way to the airport like we did!

I believe the exhibits occasionally change, but our experience began with a warning about preparing to walk through water up to our knees, then took us through about ~6 rooms of these “immersive works”, (though even the connecting hallways sometimes had interesting sensory features.) You don’t need to worry if you show up wearing tennis shoes. There is a place where you can safely store your shoes before entering.

TeamLabs Planets: Snapshots

I considered doing a little write up of each of the rooms we went through, but I worry that would ruin some of the fun for anyone intending to visit. Instead, I’ll share some of my favorite pictures from our TeamLabs Planets visit. (Keep in mind – there were parts of this experience that were just too hard to capture in photo so this is really just a sampling.)

Beanbag room TeamLabs Tokyo
This chaotic mess is all of us attempting to cross a room with a floor made of beanbags.
Tim and Greg in bouncy ball room at teamlabs planets tokyo
One room was full of giant bouncy balls. Greg got gently scolded by a staff member for throwing a ball too hard at the rest of us. Serves him right for laughing at me traversing the beanbag floor. 😀
Giant bouncy ball room teamlabs planets
The bouncy ball room was covered in mirrors and colored lights – a theme throughout.
Nick forecasts trippyness teamlabs tokyo
It looks like Nick is a weatherman on location reporting on some very strange weather.
Carrie in opaque flower water teamlabs tokyo
This room had opaque white water half way up to my knees with little flowers and fish made of light. You could kick at the flowers to make the petals fall off.
Greg in the Crystal Universe TeamLabs Tokyo
Can you see Greg? He’s hiding in a mirror maze full of colored icicle lights.

Tim and Nick in the Crystal Universe TeamLabs Tokyo

Frequent Miler Team loves TeamLabs Tokyo
The “Crystal Universe” is the immersive work you’ll see most on Instagram, but it may just be easier to photograph than the other works.
Look at these nice folks in TeamLabs Tokyo hanging orchids exhibit
In this room live orchids hung from the ceiling and gently moved out of your way.

Watch our instagram reel to get a better feel of it!


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A post shared by Carrie Yoder (@earth.to.carrie)

Why I like TeamLabs better than Meow Wolf

I briefly mentioned at the start of this article that both Stephen and I agreed that TeamLabs was more enjoyable than Meow Wolf – the closest thing I can think of to compare TeamLabs to. (Again, he’d seen the Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe and I’d seen the Meow Wolf Omega Mart in Las Vegas.)

To give you a good idea of what Meow Wolf is, rather than a multi-room art experience, it’s more like a grown-up playground. It starts off looking like an ordinary place (like a grocery store in Vegas’ case and a house in Santa Fe’s case), then it mixes in bemusing elements like trap doors and little bizarre easter eggs. The trap doors lead to a sort of blacklight/neon underworld with slides and puzzles and such. Again, a bit like a playground but with bizarre and trippy elements to keep you intrigued.

Leg from Omega Mart Meow Wolf Vegas
As an example of the quirky easter eggs you find in Meow Wolf, here’s an item at the Omega Mart store in the “seemingly normal” portion of the Meow Wolf exhibit (before you enter a trap door into the neon underworld part.)

Meow Wolf Santa Fe Kitchen

Meow Wolf Santa Fe Kitchen
Here’s an example of the kind of environment you’ll find once you go through one of the quirky trap doors from the “normal” looking environment.

So why did I like TeamLabs better?

  1. Meow Wolf is more expensive, but not more interesting. For instance, after paying $49/person to enter, we hung out for about an hour and twenty minutes or so and then felt like we’d pretty much seen everything. At TeamLabs on the other hand, we spent $28 per person and stayed for about 2 hours, wishing we could stay even longer or turn around and do it all over again.
  2. Meow Wolf is a little more crowded, and a lot more disrupted by crowds. At Meow Wolf the whole experience is kind of a free-form exploration of a space that’s supposed to be full of bizarre surprises, and part of the fun is meant to be discovery – for instance the discovery of trap doors that lead to entirely new rooms. But it’s crowded enough that most of the time you can see where all the fun “surprises” are before they get to surprise you (because you see someone else doing it before you get to figure it out on your own.)At TeamLabs Planets on the other hand you move from one room to the next in a slower pace. Perhaps this helps, or it’s also possible TeamLabs is just more intentional about the pace and quantity of the groups they let in. Or maybe it’s just that the whole experience is less discovery-focused and more sensory-immersion, which is an easier experience to share with others.
  3. Meow Wolf is less art. In pictures Meow Wolf might look like it’s doing a similar thing, but the funky lights and colors there are more decorative and thematic than anything else. I know I’m probably starting to sound like some pretentious Millennial trying to describe why the $9 boutique coffee from Portland is inherently better than Starbucks, but let’s hear from someone you can trust never to be pretentious – our favorite down-to-earth British dude, Mr. Pepper. On the No Home Just Roam post he put it well saying “If you go to Meow Wolf in Santa Fe with the expectation that you’re going to a weird art exhibit with some vague theme running through it that doesn’t really make sense, you should have a great time.”

I should disclaimer that the Santa Fe Meow Wolf looked more intriguing and extensive than the Vegas version I saw. Anyway…by the time I’m comparing art exhibits to coffee, you know it’s time to wrap the post up.

The point is this: Every one of us on the Frequent Miler team loved the TeamLabs experience. You don’t need to be a pretentious Millennial like myself to love it. I’m pretty sure as soon as we got in the Uber to head to the airport we all immediately pulled up the website to see where else we could visit a TeamLabs exhibit in the world. It’s just an incredibly unique way to spend time.


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This may be a dumb question, but is it something you need others to do it with? I mean, like all the “team” mystery places in the U.S. where you all work together toward some goal? I ask because this sounds so cool and I travel alone. tx.

Stephen Pepper

Not a dumb question! No, it’s not like an Escape room or anything like that where you need to be with other people to get the full experience. I think our experience there was enhanced by being there as part of a group where we could share our enjoyment and talk about it, but you could definitely have an amazing experience there just by yourself.


Thanks! On the list, for sure.


I have done tL-Planets last trip to Japan. At that time, tL-Borderless was still open. I wish we had done both, as tL-Borderless is closed for renovations and supposedly re-opening this fall. I guess another reason to go back to Japan? But the trip we just did to Japan, we visited teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka. It is a permanent installation, but the exhibits have changed in the 4 months since we were there. It is not as elaborate as tL-Planets but is less than half the cost. We really enjoyed it as it was a less hectic thing to do while in Japan.


I’ve been to both Meow Wolfs, this looks like it would be up my alley too.

The Vegas one was certainly a bit overrun, and the cards that they hand out had run out, which pretty much means you’re not going to solving the story behind it, rather just looking at the visuals.

That’s okay, but if that’s all you’re in there for, the Santa Fe one is more interesting and varied (most of the hilarity of the Vegas one is the main storefront, let’s face it).


Thank you for the Meow Wolf comparison. I went to the Meow Wolf in Santa Fe about a month ago and I was extremely disappointed for pretty much exactly the reasons you mention: 1) it was way too crowded for how it was set up. I’d say there were about 4 times too many people there. Though my entry was in the mid-afternoon, so maybe it’s better if you get an early morning entry time when less people have had a chance to linger and stay. And 2) it was much more “entertainment” than it was “art”

It’s good to know that TeamsLabs is different. Unfortunately, my planned trip to Tokyo this fall just got cancelled, but I’ll definitely try to go if I end up in Tokyo anytime soon


Thanks for highlighting this! P2 and I went to both Santa Fe and Vegas Meow Wolfs. We easily spent 3 hours in Santa Fe and would go back again. We thought the art was incredible! I was surprised to hear youse didn’t think so. As for busy-ness- maybe it depends on when you go- there were not THAT many people and we often had rooms to ourselves. P2 didn’t love Vegas Meow Wolf but he was feeling under the weather- for me I think the art was just ok (we didn’t explore everything) but the whole story (which we didn’t dig deeply into at Santa Fe) was a pretty critical part of the experience which would have taken more time to check out.

For a good time the livestream set by DJ Snaggy on youtube is awesome. You can listen to other music/sounds/words in the parking lot on the radio station in Santa Fe. We probably spent another 20 minutes listening to that.

TeamLabs is definitely on our list. We really love these interactive art installations, hope there are more and more of them!


Any unwanted sensory effects of feet while inside? Serious question, do people wash/rinse their feet before stepping in the water?


No, the water is supposedly heavily filtered constantly. I was concerned as I catch infections easily and I was fine.

Jan Pioslaw

I learned about it from this blog, shortly before departing for Japan. It was extraordinary, my family and I loved it.

I highly recommend making advance reservations, since it’s vert busy. Also, if you’re in the area, you can combine this with a visit to the fish market where you can get lunch.


There’s a free Teamlab exhibit at the Samsung Galaxy building Harajuku. The website says it’s expired, but as of July 2023 it was still there. You can reserve a spot online (not sure what site) or you can show up and they’ll give you a time slot. It’s well worth trying if you’re in Harajuku. You’re in a room full of (projected) dinosaurs and use the newest Galaxy phone to capture them and release them.

Teamlab Borderless closed in Odaiba in 2022, but it is supposed to be relocating in the Fall of 2023 in Toranomon-Azabudai. Borderless was much more expansive than Planets. You could easily spend 4-5 hours there wandering and discovering in the non-linear exhibit. I hope the new one is similar or better.

JW in GA

Even before this post with your previous minor mentions, it was definitely on my list for an ANA RTW trip including Tokyo this fall!

Can’t wait. Please keep these random gems coming for trip planning!


Loved my visit in February! Friendly tip, wear or bring shorts, you’ll be walking in knee deep water.


Knee deep if you’re two feet tall


Yes yes yes! This is one of the most interesting art installations in Tokyo now and highly recommend, especially on a hot summer day with kids.