The year begins with a few beloved venues and attractions closing their doors forever. This includes places surrounding the the Odaiba entertainment complex Palette Town such as Zepp Tokyo, Venus Fort and TeamLab Borderless (stylized as teamLab). All Gundam establishments will be ceasing operations as well.
But fear not – TeamLab has plans to relocate and there are exciting openings to look forward to in 2022. Some scheduled developments for this year include the long-awaited Ghibli Park, Netflix’s first-ever brick-and-mortar shop and a new look for Yokosuka Port Market. Here’s a complete tour of the places everyone’s buzzing about.
Palette Town, TeamLab Borderless, Venus Fort and Zepp Tokyo
We will say goodbye this year to a number of familiar venues that are ceasing operations. After Palette Town closed last December, other entertainment facilities at the same location are following suit this year. That includes live music venue Zepp Tokyo which shut its doors on January 1. There’s also the shopping mall Venus Fort which will close on March 27 and TeamLab Borderless on August 31. The site will undergo massive redevelopment plans to be completed by 2025. Before the closing of the entertainment complex, you can enjoy Venus Fort’s Thankful Carnival Fair, with special events, menus and limited-edition products that are only available at the site.
Gundam Café and Gundam Factory Yokohama
Much to the disappointment of fans of the franchise, Gundam Café is closing all of its branches across Japan for good. Osaka’s Gundam Square café will close on January 10 while the Gundam Café in Akihabara and the stores in Odaiba and Fukuoka will remain open until January 30. Fans can still enjoy the Gundam Café Yokohama Satellite for a little while longer but only until March 31 when Gundam Factory Yokohama (including the life-sized Gundam) will close.
Life-size Gundam statue and Gundam Park in Fukuoka
Though all Gundam cafés are shutting their doors, fans have a big (literally speaking) attraction to look forward to this April. A Gundam statue of RX-93 V Gundam will be built in front of Fukuoka’s Mitsui Shopping Park Lalaport, which is also scheduled to open its doors this spring. This is Japan’s third life-size Gundam character and Kyushu’s first full-scale statue of the giant robot. The mall also plans to open a Gundam Park where visitors can experience the futuristic world of Gundam through a mini-museum and specialty store.
TeamLab: Digitized Kairakuen Garden in Mito
Among the limited-time TeamLab installations, one you should not miss in 2022 is TeamLab’s Digitized Kairakuen Garden in Mito, Ibaraki. It runs from February 1 to March 31. This time, TeamLab transforms the almost 200-year-old garden, which is part of the Three Great Gardens of Japan, into an interactive art space where you can enjoy the combined wonders of nature and technology. Among the eight different attractions at the site, the event will shed a special light (pun intended) on the 3,000 plum trees of about 100 varieties that are planted in Kairakuen Garden. Each one is decorated with colorful, resonating lamps.
Ghibli Park in Nagoya
The much-anticipated Ghibli Park will finally open its doors this fall. A 1.5-hour bullet train ride from Tokyo, Studio Ghibli’s first theme park is located at the Aichi Earth Expo Commemorative Park near Nagoya. Each attraction in the park will be based on the studio’s most popular titles, including My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997) and the Oscar-winning Spirited Away (2001). Just as in Hayao Miyazaki’s nature-filled films, the park plans to preserve the existing trees surrounding its facilities. There will be five different sections to explore: Hill of Youth, Mononoke’s Village, Ghibli’s Large Warehouse, Valley of Witches and Dondoko Forest.
Social Good Roasters branches in Honancho and Kamakura
At Social Good Roasters, you can enjoy a hand-picked, freshly-brewed cup of coffee while supporting an important cause. Run by disabled baristas and roasters, this welfare facility with a roastery café provides opportunities for people with disabilities to work and develop talent and skills through coffee making. Currently located in Chiyoda-ku, Social Good Roasters plans to open a brewery in Honancho in March. That will be followed by a new store in Kamakura later this year. In the meantime, you can bring home the shop’s latest winter releases. That includes the “Home Latte Base” and the award-winning “Fuyu Blend.”
Netflix’s worldwide-first shop in Tokyo
Netflix plans to open its first physical store in Tokyo by mid-2022. The shop will feature recreated sets of TV shows and sell related goods so you can feel closer to your on-screen favorites. With the recent increase in paid subscribers nationwide, the streaming giant has been releasing more original titles in Japanese. One of the most popular is, of course, The Naked Director starring Takayuki Yamada. There are also plans for an exhibit on how Netflix’s algorithm personalizes and recommends programs to its viewers.
Revitalized Yokosuka Port Market
Former Yokosuka Port Market is undergoing major renovations and plans to reopen this May as Ichigo Yokosuka Port Market. The revitalization project, inspired by similar large-scale markets across the world, aims to turn the marketplace into a bustling commercial and food-oriented creative hub for shoppers and local entrepreneurs alike. There will be a wide range of fresh, locally-harvested produce, seafood and other specialties. On top of that, you can expect events and collaborations with nearby tourist and historical sites.
An art-focused ryokan on Naoshima
Naoshima, the island home to many famous artworks including Yayoi Kusama’s iconic “Yellow Pumpkin” (currently under repair), is the site of Roka, a new luxurious, art-focused ryokan. The inn displays works of young Japanese contemporary artists in its 11 rooms. Each one is equipped with open-air baths. Art pieces also decorate the restaurant, which serves a variety of local seafood delicacies in a kaiseki-style. The establishment will open its doors this April in time for the Setouchi Triennale. Guests will have the opportunity to meet different artists through events organized by the hotel.
Toy Story Hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort
Inspired by Disney’s beloved franchise, the new Toy Story Hotel at Tokyo Disney Resort will be hosting guests from April 5. The colorful, toy-decorated hotel welcomes visitors to immerse themselves in a world filled with childhood dreams and imagination. All the guest rooms are designed after Andy’s bedroom and the Lotso Garden Café offers a buffet service that features the cuddly pink-and-white teddy bear. With easy access to the Disney Resort Line, the Toy Story Hotel is a friendly option for both fans and families staying at Tokyo Disney Resort.