Monday, May 11, 2020

Saga, Kyushu [Day 5 Part 2] - teamLab Borderless at Mifuneyama Rakuen

Welcome to Day 5 of my journey through Kyushu...part 2.

I must say I do wished that I had spent more time in Nagasaki. The city had a charm of its own - a blend between Western and Japan, further made more sobering by the bombing. As we departed to head to Fukuoka, I told myself I would come back to explore more. My drive on this day would take us from Nagasaki to Takeo city in Saga Prefecture followed by a half day trip to Itoshima and finally to Fukuoka to check in at our hostel, the Life Hostel and Bar lounge (review is up here) As we visited multiple sites in Itoshima, I will save a rundown of those things in a separate post and dedicate this post to our visit to Saga, specifically Mifuneyama Rakuen and the teamLab interactive display.

The drive from our hotel to Mifuneyama Rakuen took only an hour and it was a stunning beautiful scenic drive taking us along hilly villages and the coastline of Omura Bay. The most popular season to visit Mifuneyama Rakuen is in spring to see thousands of cherry blossoms, azaleas and plum trees in full bloom over 120 acres of land at the foot of Mount Mifune.

There are even night viewings thanks to teamLab so spring is a great time to stay overnight at the attached hotel, Mifuneyama Rakuen Hotel. Autumn is also another great time to visit to see a spread of gold, red and yellow. Unfortunately, it was summer during my visit there but I had little to complain about for the day we visited Mifuneyama Rakuen, it was the sunniest day we had of our entire trip. I will just let my photos do the talking.

Adult tickets for the park was JPY400, free of charge for guests staying the Onyado Chikurintei and Mifuneyama Kanko Hotel. Bring a portable fan and a bottle of water. Comfortable shoes are recommended. Free parking is available but limited. More info can be found at their official website here:

Now the main reason I wanted to visit Mifuneyama Rakuen wasn't just for its park but also to visit the teamLab art display in the lobby of Mifuneyama Rakuen Hotel. Now many people have probably heard and visited the teamLab exhibition in Tokyo but not many know of this hidden secluded one in Saga. While not as extensive and as stunning as the Tokyo one, this exhibit was memerising in its simplicity. 

The hotel itself wasn't much to behold on the outside and even the lobby doors were borderline dodgy for it was tinted black. But there was a purpose to that because as soon as the door opened, it transported us to a magical world of slow illuminating lanterns dangling all around the hotel lobby. The lamps will light up whenever there is a person next to it and it will ripple out to the two lamps nearest to it, creating a magical optical illusion of dancing lights.

But to discourage day-trippers and wannabe instagrammers from taking up the space, the exhibition was only open to guests of Mifuneyama Rakuen hotel and Onyado Chikurintei and patrons of the lobby cafe, En Tea House-Otoro. We as a group of four were required to order four drinks each for us to sit in the lobby and appreciate the art display. The staff was pretty strict about it but it was understandable, given how many visitors they must have gotten when the display was first installed.

On the plus side, the drinks (JPY600 onward) and desserts (starting at JPY650) were pretty good and well worth it after a hot stroll around the park earlier. To make my yen's worth, I took a lot of photos of the display and even....did a wardrobe change. That's right. I did the Instagrammer thing so sue me. But thankfully because it was midweek, there weren't other guests or visitors there.

Enjoy these photos galore! I wonder what the staff thought though but I guess they must be used to it by now.

Next up, on to Itoshima and Fukuoka!

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