Tokorozawa Sakura Town + teamLab: A Photographer’s Dream

Tokorozawa Sakura Town and teamLab are turning a quiet suburban city in Saitama Prefecture into one of the coolest sites around the capital. A joint project between Tokorozawa city and the publishing house Kadokawa Corp., the sprawling complex features modern architecture designed by the famous Kengo Kuma and plenty of novelty for anime fans.

The Kadokawa Culture Museum looming ahead in Tokorozawa Sakura Town.

Although the facility was originally scheduled to open in summer 2020, its grand opening was pushed back to November 2020 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. However, some areas, including parts of the Kadokawa Culture Museum and the teamLab Acorn Forest, were pre-opened in August. So I decided to go grab a few cool photos before the crowds hit.

Areas of interest within Tokorozawa Sakura Town

Kadokawa Culture Museum (partially open)

Shallow pool outside the Kadokawa Culture Museum in Tokorozawa Sakura Town.

This granite polyhedron-shaped building designed by Kengo Kuma is undoubtedly the most eye-catching landmark of the complex. Although it houses five floors of books, pop culture and more, only the first two are currently open to the public. The remaining floors will open in November during Tokorozawa Sakura Town’s grand opening.

1F: Grand gallery, manga and light novel library, Genyoshi Garden
2F: General information , KadoCafe, Rock Museum Shop
3F: EJ Anime Museum
4F: Edit Town (library), Aramata Wunderkammer Museum, art gallery, workshop and lecture rooms
5F: Musashino Corridor and Gallery, restaurant/cafe

The highlight of the museum, the Bookshelf Theater Library, spans both the fourth and fifth floors. Massive 8-meter high bookshelves house around 50,000 books, and special projection mapping shows turn the library into a “bookshelf theater.”

General admission costs 1,600 yen for adults, with bookings compulsory to prevent overcrowding amid the coronavirus pandemic. Ticket prices vary for special tours and events periodically held in the venue. Annoyingly, you have to make an account on the official website in order to book tickets.

Opening hours: 10am to 6pm, except on Fridays and Saturdays, when it closes at 9pm (last entry 30 minutes before). Closed Tuesdays.

In front of the museum is also a shallow pool were children can wade and play in during those hot summer days. Taken at the right angle, it even looks like an infinity pool.

EJ Anime Hotel (opens Oct. 1, 2020)

Located on the top floor of the largest building on site that is technically Tokorozawa Sakura Town, this immersive hotel is built around the concept of “staying in your favourite story.” There are a total of 33 guest rooms, with five different types on offer, including Japanese-style rooms.

All rooms feature a 150-inch projector, 7.1.2ch 3D surround sound system, cinema lights and other nifty features to enjoy watching your favourite anime, in addition to standard hotel amenities. Prices start from 19,800 per person per night, inclusive of two meals.

Note: EJ stands for Entertainment Japan.

Kadokawa Shokudo

Located in the same building as the EJ Anime Hotel, this daytime cafeteria is actually for employees of Kadokawa, but also serves the general public. With Tokorozawa known for its vegetable produce, the restaurant uses fresh ingredients from local and neighbouring farmers in its nutritious and delicious-looking dishes.

The restaurant is fairly large at around 380 sq meters and 170 seats. It also contains a kids space and sofa seats. Free Wi-Fi and charging ports are available.

Opening hours: 8:30am to 5pm weekdays. Closed on weekends and public holidays.

Da Vinci Store (opens Nov. 6, 2020)

Kadokawa Shokudo is just one of the 10 stores making up the shopping and dining areas on the second and third floors of Tokorozawa Sakura Town. Another point of interest is the Da Vinci Store, a bookstore operated directly by Kadokawa with an event space and exclusive goods.

Japan Pavilion

This diamond-shaped building consists of two halls for holding concerts, stage shows, exhibits and other local events.

Sennin Terrace and Central Square

As its name suggest, this is an open-air space with a capacity to fit 1,000 people. Various local events are likely to be held here in the future.

Musashino Reiwa Shrine

This hyper-modern shrine, which was also designed by Kengo Kuma, features a short row of red steel torii gates leading up to the main building.

teamLab Acorn Forest

Although technically not a part of Tokorozawa Sakura Town, this permanent teamLab exhibition is located right across the street in Musashino Woods, Higashi-Tokorozawa Park.

Based on the theme “Resonating Life in the Acorn Forest”, its features dozens of shiny ovoids that hum with sound and respond to the presence of people. At night, the ovoids and surrounding trees blink in a plethora of psychedelic colours to create a truly surreal atmosphere. The ovoids can emit up to 57 different “liquified light” colours, according to the official website.

Given all the extra effects you get after dark, ticket prices are double at night than during the day. An adult daytime ticket is 500 yen on Mon-Thu, and 600 yen on Fri-Sun & holidays. For nighttime ticket this becomes 1,000 yen and 1,200 yen. The cut-off time for daytime and nighttime depends on the season.

You can get a 100 yen web discount if you purchase tickets off the Kadokawa Culture Museum website. And if you happen to be a resident of Tokorozawa, you can get a 200 yen discount.

However, it is actually not necessary to enter the woods in order to the see the ovoids. There is no fence or wall surrounding the attraction. In fact, I took all the pictures above from the footpath alongside the woods. So if you’re not fussed about touching them, or getting an Instagrammic shot among the ovoids, then there really is no need to buy a ticket in my opinion.

Opening hours: 12pm to 10pm everyday. Closed Tuesdays.

Getting to Tokorozawa Sakura Town

The closest station to Tokorozawa Sakura Town is Higashi-Tokorozawa on the JR Musashino Line. I say closest, but even then it’s a good 1-kilometre walk. If heading there from central Tokyo, your best bet is to either take the JR Chuo Line and change at Nishi-Kokubunji Station or the Keihin-Tohoku Line and change at Minami-Urawa Station, If coming from the west-side, you can take the JR Saiyo Line from Shinjuku Station and change at Musashi-Urawa Station. The one-way journey will take at least an hour, depending on the route.

Address: 埼玉県所沢市東所沢和田三丁目31番地3
3-31-3 Tokorozawa-wada, Tokorozawa-shi, Saitama Prefecture

Final thoughts: Tokorozawa Sakura Town

Since almost everything was yet to be open, I spent my time there admiring the architecture during golden hour. Urban photographers would have a field day here.

I would be interested in heading back checking out the complex once it fully reopens, but would probably not go out of my way to do so. If I do find myself in the area again, though, I have my eye on the Bookshelf Theater Library and the teamLab Acorn Forest at night.

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