The world’s largest projection mapping was …?

The world’s largest projection mapping is in Nishi-Shinjuku. This event is called “Tokyo Night & Light”. It takes place at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building. Actually, it is on it!! When I heard about it, I was excited. Would I stay that way? That was the big question.

What is the outline for this event?

It started on February 25, 2024, and plays year-round. The venue is the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s Main Building No.1. That’s city hall. It is a 48-story twin tower with observatories. Godzilla often destroys it whenever s/he visits the city. Or does it use pronouns? I’ve got no idea.

Anyway, images are projected against the building’s east side from the fourth floor. They go up to the 32nd floor and cover an area 127 meters high by 110 meters wide. That is big! Tokyo Governor, Yuriko Koike, said tourists and locals will come to see it.

The nightly shows are different, depending on when you go. There is ‘Evolution’ and ‘Lunar Cycle’ on weeknights. Weekends and holidays have ‘Tokyo Concerto,’ ‘Zankyo Sanka (Aimer),’ ‘Evolution’ and ‘800 (Aimer)’. 

What time does Tokyo Night and Light start?

There are five shows per night and they start at 7 pm. Each performance takes about ten to fifteen minutes.

What was the projection mapping like?

  • Technically, the projection mapping was great. It was colorful, and so many patterns appeared on the building.
  • The mapping was beautiful, but it was just random shapes, colors, and patterns.
  • The sound was good. But it seemed to have a few problems on the night I went. I felt it didn’t synchronize well with the projection mapping.

How did it compare to other big Tokyo events?

  • Tokyoites love big events. Look at sports. Fireworks, summer festivals, and awa odori are the same. I had big expectations. 
  • At the starting event, over 1000 people attended. This time, there were only 200. That was a pity as the plaza in front of the building could hold many times that. It was mid-March, a weekday, and a little cool, which might help explain the low numbers. I feel there was more to it than that, though.

How was the crowd’s reaction?

As you might know from previous articles, I am an occasional tour guide. One of my clients asked me to take them to this event. So, I checked it out on March 11 before that happened. I could also get some photographs for this article. It was a kill-two-birds-with-one-stone type of situation.

While waiting for the event to start, I talked to people near me. One couple said they had watched Tokyo Night and Light the previous weekend. According to them, it was awesome. The images were so cool. The crowd had clapped and cheered at the end of each performance. Others said the same. Hearing those comments got me excited.

Have you ever been to a big event in Japan? Fireworks and Awa Odori are good examples. When a Japanese crowd is impressed, they let the performers know. They clap and cheer like there is no tomorrow.

What we saw was underwhelming. There were some color patterns on the building. The sound system seemed to have problems. Then, there was the ocean scene with a whale and fish. It seemed random stuff. Then it finished.

Well, there was complete silence. There were no claps or cheers. The audience of about 200 people wasn’t impressed. After two performances, most of them had left. That was enough for me, too. I packed up my gear and went home. Hardly anyone remained. The couple next to me said I should go on the weekend.

Wrapping up

Shinjuku has the world’s largest projection mapping. But Tokyo Night and Light, as an event, is underwhelming. It was disappointing, and it pains me to say that. I’ve never said that about an event here on the blog. So why am I putting this article out?

In its current form, Tokyo Night and Light won’t attract crowds of people. It won’t hold their attention. That’s my prediction. I could be wrong, and I hope I am because I love this city. But it needs big, entertaining events, which is not what I saw.

Having said that, I was surprised when I got home. I looked at the photos, and I was impressed. The Tocho (as locals call the building) looked good with all the projection mapping. From that point of view, I was glad I went. Photographers might well love it.

Recommendations for this event

Tokyo is a big, exciting city. People from all over the world want to come here. A whale with fish and some random patterns and colors is old school. Twenty years ago, it might have been cool.

But this is 2024, and we need to move with the times. Images of our age should be used. Things that are distinctly Japanese or about Tokyo. Actually, I understand the whale usage, but is it relevant today?

I expected to see Mount Fuji at least. What about a scene from Shibuya, Shinjuku, or Odaiba? Imagination is limitless. We got a whale and fish. Lift your game, Tokyo! Everyone knows you can do it.

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