teamLab Borderless vs. Planets. Which one is better?

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

        Hey guys! You may or may not remember the blog post I wrote on my experience at teamLab Borderless from last year, but I recently visited teamLab Planets as well and I have gotten a lot of requests to talk about what the differences are! Many of you have asked me whether Borderless or Planets is more worth seeing, but I think the answer differs depending on what you're looking for. So, as someone who has visited both, I've listed the major differences and similarities between these two exhibitions!


1. Size & Layout

       I definitely found Borderless to be larger than Planets. Borderless took me about 3 hours to experience the whole thing, whereas Planets took closer to 2 hours. Although Borderless had more installations than Planets, I found that Planets did a really good job with the transitions between the main installations (in other words, the hallways between them).
       In terms of layout, Borderless had an open concept, whereas Planets was unidirectional. For Borderless, once you enter the exhibition there's many paths you can take. The great thing about this is that you can choose where to go first and you have free rein over how you want to explore the space. However, this also means that there is the possibility of missing out on installations since it's almost like a maze in there. My advice is to make sure you familiarize yourself beforehand with all of their installations! That way if you know you're missing something, you can ask an employee to direct you there.
       In contrast, when you walk into Planets, it immediately leads you down one path. The good thing about this is that you definitely won't miss anything! The downside of this, however, is that it's difficult to go back to a particular installation that you walked by already (I'm not quite sure if they even allow you to backtrack). So, I would advise you to get the most of out each one and then move on so you don't regret it!

2. Experience

       What I noticed was that Borderless catered primarily to our visual senses, whereas Planets focused more on our sense of touch. I would say that this difference in experience is one of the biggest contrasts between the 2 exhibitions. When you first enter Planets, you are asked to remove your shoes and socks. It is mandatory to be barefoot for Planets and they also require you to be able to lift your pants/skirt to around knee-level. But don't worry, if you end up wearing bottoms that are too tight to roll up, they will lend you shorts! Also, a majority of the rooms are composed of mirrors on the ground so, ladies, I would probably avoid wearing a short skirt! Again, they will let you borrow shorts if needed. The reason why you can't wear shoes in Planets is because they focus a lot on texture. A large part of the exhibition is dark, if not almost pitch black, resulting in a heightened sense of touch. You'll notice different textures as you are walking and there are also areas filled with water! This is why you need to be able to lift your bottoms up to your knees. I personally found this aspect of Planets really fun and satisfying.
       On the other hand, Borderless does not have restrictions on what to/what not to wear. Although I still would be a bit mindful since there are areas covered in mirrors. There are a couple sections in Borderless where you get to toss your shoes off and get hands-on with the installations, but most of them are visually focused.

3. Price (2,700 vs 3,200 JPY)

Borderless is slightly more expensive, with ticket prices sitting at 3,200JPY (about $38CAD). Tickets to Planets cost 2,700JPY (about $32CAD).

4. Unique installations

       Although there are some similar installations between the two, a good chunk of the installations are unique to the particular exhibition.
       My favourite unique installations from Borderless would be "Forest of Resonating Lamps" and "Black Waves". I don't want to be repetitive with the photos, so click here to see my post dedicated to Borderless, if you want to check out all their installations!
       For Planets, my favourite unique installation was "Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People". This was a large room with water filled up almost to my knees. The lights painted beautiful colours onto the water, switching from abstract lines to a koi pond. It was actually so mesmerizing and such a cool experience.

       As I mentioned in the Size & Layout section, Planets doesn't have an many "installation rooms" as Borderless. I believe there's actually only 4 "rooms". The rest of the installations are spread throughout the hallways and paths between these rooms, and are meant to be a passing-by experience as opposed to the rooms where you can stand around and spend time in.

       For example, this is one of the hallway installations called "Waterfall of Light Particles at the Top of an Incline". There is flowing water and it seems to replicate a river. How cool is that? You probably have noticed that water is a recurring theme in Planets!

Image found online, and is not mine.
There are 2 other main "hallway installations" that also focus heavily on texture.

Image found online, and is not mine.

Image found online, and is not mine.


1. Similar Installations

       Although a lot of the installations were unique, there were a a couple that seemed similar, if not almost identical. The main one being the room with the string of lights. At Borderless, it is called "Crystal World" and at Planets, they call it "The Infinite Crystal Universe". Aside from the positioning and layout of the strings of lights, I'm pretty sure they're the same in terms of the technology behind it and materials used (please correct me if I'm wrong).

Here's a look at "The Infinite Crystal Universe" at Planets.

In comparison, here's a photo from "Crystal World" from Borderless. Hard to tell the difference, right? Again, you can find more photos from Borderless in my other post!

       The other similar installation was the one with the balloon-like objects. The Borderless one is called "Weightless Forest of Resonating Life" and the Planets one is called "Expanding Three-Dimensional Existence in Transforming Space". Both had floating balloon-like objects, although the Borderless "balloons" were more irregularly shaped whereas the Planets ones were perfectly round. Another difference was that the "balloons" in Borderless weren't free floating, as most were attached to something. The "balloons" in Planets were completely free...maybe a little too free haha. It was a really fun installation, but I did almost get knocked out by one when kids were running around and kicking the balloons left and right.

Here's some photos of me at the Planets installation.

Meanwhile, this is what the Borderless one looks like! (The Planets one is definitely nicer for photos haha)

2. Location

       I was actually very surprised at how close these 2 exhibitions are. When I first googled how to get to Planets, I kept thinking it was bringing up directions to Borderless because of how similar their location is. Planets is located at Toyosu 6-1-16, Koto-ku, Tokyo. Borderless is located at Odaiba Palette Town 2F, 1-3-8 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo. By train, they're just 12 minutes away from each other!

So, What's the Verdict?

       Like I mentioned at the beginning, both exhibitions are great and it's hard to say which one is better. It really depends on what you are looking for! What I can say is that Borderless seems to be more widely and popularly known, so I did notice that it was a bit more crowded at Borderless than it was at Planets. For me personally, if I could only choose one, I would go to Borderless simply because they have more installations. All in all though, I would weight out the differences and similarities that I listed above and see which one seems better fit for you! But I can tell you that whichever one you do go for, you won't regret it.

Hope this helps! If you've been to these exhibitions before, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Love, Lena 


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