TeamLab Digital Wonderland at the Tadasu-no-mori Light Festival in Kyoto



Colloquially known as raitappu (‘light up’) or irumineeshon (‘illumination’), the use of artificial lighting to create dazzlingly beautiful – sometimes garishly so – art displays for people to escape into after a hard day’s work, is something of a seasonal staple across Japan. Teamlab creates such illumination events. I’ve seen a fair few such displays myself, but none so far that compares to teamLab’s hikaru-no-matsuri (Light Festival) project, which recently took place at Tadasu-no-mori, Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto.
A place steeped in quiet mystery, a shrine is perhaps the ideal location for a digital art display, due to the ease at which a harmonious contrast between ancient spirituality and the lurid, neon – Tokyoesque colors of the present day can be created.

History of the Festival

The digital art-collective teamLab organized the first of such Light Festivals back in 2016. The event takes place irregularly and took place for a second time from the 17th August to the 2nd September 2018.

What Happens?

Taking place in Kyoto’s World Heritage designated Shimogamo Shrine, the festival features hundreds of giant balls of light. These are illuminated in changing colors against the nighttime backdrop of the surrounding shrine. With music somewhat reminiscent of traditional Japanese instruments reverberating among the outer reaches of a fairytale realm emanating from strategically placed speakers, the combined effect is that of a breath-taking audio-visual invasion of the five senses.
You can access the festival area via two means – along with the shrine approach, or through the tower gate located in the main part of the shrine.

Interesting Facts About the Festival

The concept behind the Light Festival is that of awareness of others – exemplified through the light balls’ changing colors whenever a person approaches or touches them.
If you stand in the main area of the shrine, the gradual change in surrounding colour signifies that you are not alone (a message, perhaps, that we can all benefit from, and one that strikes me as especially poignant coming from a country such as Japan, where loneliness seems to have become a problematic social phenomenon in its own right).

Information and Advice for Spectators

Such light festivals are immensely popular –, especially at weekends. I’d advise arriving earlier to minimize queuing time and to allow yourself more time to enjoy the festival.
As the displays take place irregularly, please check the website for updates regarding future schedules.

Tourist Information About the Area

Shimogamo Shrine is located in the northern part of Kyoto city, about half an hour by a bus from JR Kyoto station.
Surrounded by a deep forest called Tadasu-no-mori, the main shrine boasts 55 shrine buildings in total and was registered as a World Heritage site in 1994.
Shimogamo Shrine is also home to the Aoi matsuri (‘Hollyhock festival’), one of Kyoto’s three main festivals, which takes place there every year. The festival features a procession from the Imperial Palace of people dressed in traditional clothing from the Heian period (794 – 1185 CE), each member of the parade sporting hollyhock leaves.

Useful Information

• Venue: Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto
• Address: Kyoto-fu, Kyoto-shi, Izumigawa-cho 59
• Entrance fee (previous occasion): weekdays – 1,000 JPY per person; Saturdays – 1,200 JPY per person
• Directions: approx. 12 min. walk from Demachiyanagi station (Keihan line)
• Official Website:

Closing Remarks

To foreign visitors, Japan can come across as a melting pot of unique (and at times bizarre) culture, history, ancient spirituality, tradition & modernity – and quite accurately so. Though famed for its preserved architecture and quieter, ‘older’ feel, projects such as teamLab’s Light Festival are proof that the digital and the futuristic are not simply a Tokyo cliché, but can also coexist harmoniously among and within the most beautiful of ancient locations.

An Ultimate Idea Source for Your Kyoto Stay!

Kyoto is an old capital of Japan and a cultural and historical mecca for everyone who visits this country. It is the most popular city among tourists and a must-see destination indeed. Kyoto boasts over 4000 historical places including shrines, temples, and attracts visitors with its charming atmosphere of an ancient city. This city is great for shopping, bicycling, hiking, museums, galleries, green spaces, and features many famous festivals. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Kyoto! Please, have a look, URL:

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Winter might be not the most popular season to visit the ancient capital of Japan. Indeed, the weather is severe and it is much colder in Kyoto than in Osaka or Tokyo. However, this season allows you to avoid big tourist crowds, see famous sightseeing spots from a different perspective, and feel the atmosphere of this charming city even deeper. The following article summed up the most interesting events happening in Kyoto this winter. I am sure, you will find something to fit in your travel plans!


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I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Of course, Kyoto boasts many outstanding events to watch and participate, and you should do it when you have a chance! However, the original Gion festival with much bigger floats takes place every year in Kyoto in July. I am sure you will enjoy one of the most popular Gion festivals in Japan! For more information about Kyoto`s Gion Matsuri click on the link below!

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!


Sakura in Kyoto

Cherry blossoms are an essential part of Japanese culture. And, viewing cherry blossoms (Hanami) is very popular in Japan during the spring. This is because cherry blossoms, which the Japanese call “Sakura” are stunning in Japan at the time.

If you are planning to visit Japan this spring, and if you want to see more cherry blossoms in another area. I would like you to check the Best cherry blossom spots in Kyoto. Kyoto is one of the best places to see cherry blossom and Japanese culture.

Here`s the link. URL: 

Osaka is very close to Kyoto. It will be a miss if you don’t visit Osaka to see cherry blossoms when you are in the Kansai area in spring. Please check the following article to find out the best cherry blossoms viewing spots in Osaka and Kansai!


Kyoto and Osaka have many beautiful spots to see Cherry blossoms. However, other areas also have excellent places for hanami. Tokyo features many of those spots as well! If you are in Tokyo around spring and looking for a place to see cherry blossoms, Why don’t you check the following article?



Despite having lived here for four years as an English teacher, Japan never ceases to both surprise and delight me.

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