A Taste of Japan: Immersive Animated Restaurant Shifts with the Seasons

The exclusive experience of dining at this Tokyo restaurant, which serves just eight patrons a day, is not really about the food – though Saga Beef restaurant Sagaya-Ginza is not necessarily lacking in quality. It’s just that watching nature spring to life all around you, cycling through the seasons to represent some of Japan’s most striking natural beauty, tends to eclipse whatever’s on your plate. Art collective teamLab, known for their creative projection-based installations, created a multi-sensory immersive experience with ‘Worlds Unleashed and Then Connecting.’

In classic teamLab form, this projection is not just immersive, but also interactive, responding to the dishes as they’re placed on the table as well as movements of the diners and servers. While other well-known works by the collective tend to unfold within a larger space, like a warehouse or gallery, this installation is private and intimate.

“When a dish is placed on the table, the world contained within the dish is unleashed, unfolding onto the table and into the surrounding space,” the artists explain. “The worlds unleashed from each dish connect in the external space creating a new larger world. The worlds unleashed are affected by the other dishes on the table.”

“For example, a bird unleashed from one dish can perch on the branch of a tree unleashed from another. The trees that grow from each dish are not identical; their sizes and shapes are affected by the worlds unleashed by the other dishes on the table. These unleashed worlds are also affected by your behavior. If you stand still, a tiny bird might alight on your hand; if you move suddenly, it might fly away. The worlds unleashed from the dishes on the table influence each other, react to the actions of the visitors, and combine to create one single continuous world. The world is constantly changing from moment to moment and no two moments are alike.”