By Mickey Hoyle
We eat seeds all the time. Yet, from spitting sunflower shells at baseball games to happily munching everything bagels in the morning, we rarely notice the beauty behind what we’re actually consuming.
Tree by NAKED yoyogi park seeks to address this gap in our collective knowledge. This restaurant combines VR and projection mapping to take their diners on a journey through the life cycle of a tree, from a seed to a tall, proud plant.
The technology ensures that all five senses are stimulated during the eight course meal. It also furthers the perception of a journey by moving the customer from room to room throughout the evening, keeping the experience exciting and heightening the diner’s sense of curiosity.
Visual effects are everywhere, from the physical props used to enhance the experience to the digital illusions projected on the table. Same for the accompanying music and food, which is handpicked to accentuate each stage: birth, spur, expansions, phantasm, unity, and rebirth.
Some parts of the experience are even tactile, such as a fish projected into a real bowl of water. If somebody tries to touch the fish or cover it, it swims away from them! They also blur the line between the real and digital elements of the experience with various smoke effects, where flint-induced smoke radiates outwards into the table display.
The restaurant also stages two performances throughout the night. These spectacles incorporate various themes like the Japanese art kudo or the recurring Japanese motif of the bamboo tree. Far from interrupting the narrative woven by the food and technology, the performing arts intensify it by preventing viewers from acclimating to the virtual displays.
Finally, the company uses seasonal ingredients to provide the freshest and most delectable gustatory experience possible. They even bring in a tea master for the delectable “rebirth” green tea served at the end.
The cost for this experience is a hefty ¥23,000 per person. The restaurant only accepts restaurant reservations online, and will seat a maximum of eight people per group.
Tree by Naked is just a three-minute walk from Yoyogi-koen station.
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