Destination Japan

Since our return from a recent trip to Japan, I’m incapable of answering the simple query So, how was it? with a simple reply. Describing the excitement of 3 weeks of daily doses of wonderment, newness and discoveries cannot be shared in a few words. Over a bottle of wine, perhaps.

Japan so tantalizes the senses, our group of 4 agrees that it’s impossible to choose a favorite city, site, experience or cuisine, but with two exceptions: dry sake over sweet and Tokyo’s Digital Art Museum.


Just opened June, 2018, the Mori Building Digital Art Museum is undeniably Tokyo’s most exciting museum. Dedicated to digital-art-as-experience, it is also the first museum of its kind…in the entire world!

Digital Art Museum’s landmark location is next to the ferris wheel at Palette Town, Odaiba, Tokyo


Envisioned by the digital art collective  , the Digital Art Museum (DAM) is the result of a three-year collaboration between artists and technologists. From the genius of such an alliance emerged a morphing of art and technology, and the result is like nothing you’ve ever known before. To put heft behind such a declaration, take a peek at this:

Watching this 58 seconds of video, my reaction is pure Pavlovian – I’m immediately back in the corridors, heart racing with anticipation.

Unlike a circus – where the performances unfold before a seated audience – DAM encourages active engagement with mind-boggling digital installations further enhanced by Hideaki Takahashi’s gloriously synchronized music.

The music does not blast as at a rock concert; rather, the volume is modulated so those sharing the experience can be heard but not prove distracting. Conversation isn’t really a factor, as the commonality of expression is pretty limited to lots and lots (and lots) of WOWS!

Shimmering lights and forms dance across walls, ceilings and floors, responding to and set in motion by your touch. Touch! The big no-no at most museums, touching the art is the whole point at DAM. In touching the art, you become part of it.

“To my amazement, touching the wall unleashed an explosion of color and movement that put me in the center of the experience.” EllynAnne Geisel



DAM‘s multi-level interior is ginormous and provides opportunity for endless exploration. The 60 digital art works are somehow connected and magically transform and interact according to the presence of people and their touch. Math isn’t my strength, but this factoring is my kind of calculation: 6000 visitors a day x their touches = explosive awesomeness.



Japan is extremely family-friendly and DAM is proof. The interior is divided into five zones – Borderless World, Athletics Forest, Future Park, Forest of Lamps, and En Tea House –   the Athletics Forest zone specific to children, with a section just for babies and their watchers, and a section only for kids. This zone is perhaps the happiest place on the planet!

Children poke and play with lighted spheres in a dedicated kid space.



One further indulgence as I share this zone, which is breathtaking. Imagine a mirrored floor, walls and ceiling, the space hung with 1000 Mirano-shaded, motion-sensitive lamps. At different heights, each lamp is touchable and changes colors. Surrounded by thousands of mirrored images, the room is all warmth and wonder.

Put away the camera and experience the warmth and wonder of the lights.



  • Buy tickets to DAM in advance – At 6000 visitors a day, chances of securing tickets the day of your visit will leave you crushingly disappointed
  • Dress for active participation. Think: sensible clothing and footwear. The Athletics Forest requires soft sole shoes
  • While the average visit is 2-3 hours, plan to spend the day. The DAM opens at 10 am and closes at 7/9 pm. Take a lovely lunch break mid-way.
  • Photos are allowed – selfie sticks are not! At some point, put away the camera…this museum is so much more than posing for Instagrammables.
  • For armchair travel, visit the website.
  • There is no gift shop (insert my tears, for I so wanted the tee shirt worn by staff)


Japan is a smorgasbord of fabulousness, a country so filled with tantalizing wonders, it deserves Travel & Leisure’s 2018 awarding of destination of the year. Any year you can get there, however, will have you in my shoes – incapable of answering the simple question So how was it? with a simple reply.

So I lose a few friends. Japan is so worth it.








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