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Kyoto Summer 2021 Part 1: teamLab Digitalized World Heritage Site of Toji

Kyoto Summer 2021 Part 1: teamLab Digitalized World Heritage Site of Toji

Tako Tako 4 min read

We got free Amex member limited tickets to a summer special event in World Heritage Site Toji.

Part 2 here
Part 3 here

Driving from Tokyo to Kyoto

Mid-Covid and unvaccinated, we decided to make the trip by car. Driving from Tokyo to Kyoto takes around 6 hours. We do not recommend it unless you are used to long distance driving or have a co-pilot to takeover. In our case, only Pancake had a driving license so he had to make the sacrifice whilst I slept.

Tako: How long did it take to drive to Kyoto from Tokyo?
Pancake: Too goddamn long.

Nagoya Lunch Break

Pancake's favourite Tsukemen and Maze Soba restaurant when he was living in Nagoya. We couldn't resist dropping by for a bite when passing through Nagoya. Still the best Maze Soba we've had till now, they also have a branch in Chiba-ken.

フジヤマ55 Fujiyama55
フジヤマ55 Fujiyama55

Day 1 To-Ji teamLab Illumination

We were a little late for the event that started at 8pm due to the nearby parking bays all being full. From a distance, we could see Toji's pagoda flashing multicolour lights.

For Amex members, there was a separate lane and free gift! (^v^)

Highlights of the Event

What exactly makes this event so special?

As stated on the event's page:

"This exhibition is a part of teamLab’s Digitized City art project. The concept behind the project is that non-material digital technology can turn buildings or places into art without physically altering them."

Could not have put it better myself. The entire temple complex was pretty much pitch black with only the colourful but dim lighting around us. Gentle music was playing throughout to create atmosphere.

Squishy egg balls that change colour and sound when touched.
Floating glowing lanterns in Hyotan Pond
Abstract lighting forming lines on the trees makes for a mind-boggling scene

My favourite part of the event was the visual representation of life and death through the life cycle of flowers on the temple's halls. From barren wasteland, to a budding seed, growth and increase in numbers, peak of beauty, and finally the gradual end of life. It was a remarkable and touching experience. We witnessed the growth and demise of around 5 types of plants before moving on.  

Don't let the photos fool you. It was super dark, and Tako was trying really hard not to trip over the uneven ground. (˚ ˃̣̣̥⌓˂̣̣̥ ) The lights were ever changing from blue to red, yellow to green, purple to orange, there was no fixed colour. Each hue gave a different feeling to the world around us.

Reflection of light and trees on Mirror Pond

Look at this! It's gorgeous! We took a lot of photos of the Mirror Pond in various colours, but my favourite is the one above when the lights were transitioning from blue to green.

The event ended around 9pm. Pancake suggested we go to an Izakaya for dinner and so we looked around.

But! We forgot! It's COVID! That means everywhere closes early. ∑(; °Д°)

In the end, we just did a konbini run before checking into our hotel. It wasn't too bad as Kyoto's konbini had stuff we don't usually see in Tokyo. Like omelette sandwich and salted seaweed takana onigiri.

Konbini dinner/supper for first night in Kyoto

以上 Until next time ヾ(^∇^)

Curious how the event looked like in video? Hit us up and we'll post them on Instagram.