Odaiba began as a six-gun battery barrier put in place by an Edo Shogunate to protect it against foreign ships in the late Edo Period. The third battery remains below Rainbow Bridge, and has been designated a national historic landmark, which is still open for observation. You can venture around down there; it makes for a good walk.
Before, the area was just a landfill, but has now grown into a place with a range of facilities. Now, new and interesting attractions pop up one after the next, for all to enjoy. In Odaiba, though very close to Central Tokyo, extraordinary experiences await you. To most, Odaiba is a day-trip experience, but there are enough things to see that a one or two night stay is by no means out of the question.
The First day of the trip – All aboard the Yurikamome!
There are several ways to access Odaiba including buses, and waterbuses (ferries). The Rinakai Line has come to be convenient. Try the Yurikamome, a line running from Shimbashi Station. After passing Shibaura-futo Station, and crossing the Rainbow Bridge, the scenery of Odaiba floating on Tokyo Bay comes into close view; together they make for magnificent scenery. You can see Mt. Fuji in the still air of a clear winter’s day.
Going to Pallet Town? Get off at Aomi Station, the nineth stop from Shimbashi. When you see its giant ferris wheel up-close, you realize just how big it really is. This is a landmark of Odaiba.
Begin by going to VenusFort. Once inside, you will slip into an astonishing Medieval European town. This is a theme park interspersed with fountains, real wedding chapels, and their plazas. It is decorated with 170 shops – from fashion, jewelry, cosmetics, and designer variety goods, to coffee shops, and restaurants. The ceiling continuously changes its appearance, expressing blue morning sky, sunset, and nightfall. A day in Venus Fort is like a day in a town in 18th century Europe. Just walking through is fun.
From November eighth to February fifteenth, come see an elegant display of illumination and lights under the theme “Star Cocktail,” a Milky Way of stars in Venus Fort’s ‘other sky.’ This infinity of stars will intoxicate you with their fiery twinkling colors.
Next, go to Sun Walk, located below VenusFort. The concept of this shopping mall is “a walk on a sunny path,” but this mall is certainly huger than a mere path. Its numerous shops are enjoyable even just to look at. Check out the biggest pet shop in Tokyo, and buy an official all-star soccer uniform. For the sports fanatic, stop by the mall’s sports specialty shop that carries around 50,000 popular items. It’s also fun to stop by the Tokyo-typical, stylish, urban-style interior shop there.
MEGA WEB is a car theme park. You can try out electric cars as well as try Toyota’s latest makes and models on for size, and be captivated by the popular vintage cars and race cars from the past on display.
The giant ferris wheel boasts a 115-meter height and 100-meter diameter, and is one of the largest-scale Ferris wheels in the world. Atop the wheel you can see Rainbow Bridge, Shinjuku high-rise complexes and as far out as the Boso Peninsula on a sunny day. The ride takes just 16 minutes, so give it a go.
Odaiba Marine Park Station, Daiba
Walk down toward and pass Tokyo Rinkai Line, Teleport Station, and walk on Teleport Bridge. Before long, you will find yourself at Yurikamome Odaiba Kaihin Koen Station. Daiba Park, or Daiba Historic Park No.3, is where the third gun battery is mounted. It is close to the station on foot. You can get a close-up view of Rainbow Bridge from here.
Gazing out at the sea from the wooden deck terrace of DECKS Tokyo Beach, comes the sudden excitement that you are on vacation at a resort. There are two shopping malls: “Seaside Mall” and “Island Mall,” where you can enjoy shopping, eating, and entertainment. Feel the exoticism of “Little Hong Kong, Odaiba” and check out “Daiba Ichome Shopping Street,” where the fun never dies. Streets seen in the mid- 50’s in Tokyo have been replicated down to old shops carrying trinkets and apparel of the era, and classic Western restaurants where you can taste Japanese style Omelet Rice, and Curry. Here you can feel the real old-town atmosphere and mood. On the first weekend of the month, is a big sale of bananas sold in the old Japanese selling style, and the Begoma Dojo (old Japanese toy school), open every second weekend. These are some events that add to the mid-50’s atmosphere.
“Tokyo Joypolis” is the biggest indoor theme park in Japan and has over 20 kinds of high-tech attractions. Break through the boundaries of the everyday and explore the world of virtual reality. Relax to that movie you’ve been wanting to watch at Cinema Mediage.
If you’re hungry, Odaiba’s Aqua City is the place to go. The hardest part is the perplexing choice faced with some 60 restaurants to choose from. Restaurants in Aqua City range widely in genre from Japanese, Sushi, Western, Italian, Chinese, ethnic, and Korean Barbeque, to cafes, and a food court. A large number of these restaurants offer enjoyable scenery of Tokyo Bay as well. There are also over 80 shops where you can find unique variety goods, fashion shops, food, and souvenirs. These shops have a wide range of interesting goods for children and elders alike, regardless of gender. Useful, and easy to understand floor guide pamphlets are available in English, Chinese, and Korean. The outlook from the third floor Statue of Liberty Terrace is remarkable. You can take some pictures of yourself with the Statue of Liberty and Rainbow Bridge in the background. These are two highlights of Odaiba. The view of Mt. Fuji on a clear day triggers an instinctive oohing and aweing. Sunset and night cityscapes under the stars are stunningly romantic sceneries.
Every Wednesday in Odaiba is Ladies Day. Women get discounts on movie tickets at the Cinema Mediage and have many benefits available at Aqua City Odaiba, DECKS Tokyo Beach, and Hotel Nikko Tokyo. What a deal.
On the other side of Aqua City, is Fuji Television Building. It has 25 floors, and is 100 meters in height. The panoramic oceanfront view from the spherical observation deck is fantastic.
A full day of Odaiba fun can be tiring. Good thing you decided to stay at a local hotel. Now all that’s left is that relaxation yet to come. Hotel Nikko Tokyo and Le Meridien Grand Pacific Tokyo are just a couple to choose from. Hotel Nikko Tokyo offers an ocean view from every room and a vacation getaway atmosphere to go with it. From each room, you will find breathtaking sceneries of Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo Bay. Le Meridien Grand Pacific Tokyo was designed with the notion of becoming the 21st arrondissement of Paris. Its European atmosphere is simply elegant.
On the Second Day – Museum of Maritime Science, Telecom Center
After finishing breakfast at the hotel, why not take a leisurely walk to the Museum of Maritime Science? The Museum was built on the theme “culture of the sea and ship.” Many items and models explain the mechanisms and layouts of ships and their histories, exhibited throughout the museum. You can also see the Antarctic exploration ship, “Soya,” in the museum.
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation is a hands-on museum where visitors can touch state-of-the-art science and technology. Various events are held based on the theme of “creating a new dream for the 21st century.” Many events are held – feel free to join any one of them if it so strikes your interest. Astronaut Mamoru Mori is this museum’s curator.
Tokyo Port Museum is a museum where visitors can learn about the history of Tokyo Bay and future plans for the Tokyo Bay redevelopment area. You will learn about the featured Tokyo Bay through large-scale models, films, and aerial photos. The museum is located 100 meters above ground and its front area is glass-walled, so the museum offers great views of the Bay. Take some time to enjoy the view.
Walk for 2 minutes from Yurikamome Line, Telecom Center Station to Oedo-Onsen Monogatari (Hot Spring). It is a theme-park hot spring of Edo culture motif. After you receive a paper key (a ticket of sorts) at the front desk, chose your favorite yukata at “Echigo-Ya” and change into the yukata. Then, your “tour of Edo” begins. You can enjoy various baths, such as the “Natural Hot Spring Big Bath” which brings you back to a public bath in the Edo period. Other baths include the “Outdoor Hot Spring Bath,” and “Mist Sauna.” “Foot Bath,” is where you walk barefoot in a shallow bath while wearing Yukata. It is to stimulate energy centers in your feet. It effectively recovers your energy, especially when you are exhausted. Walking the streets, taking in the old atmosphere of Edo, will have you feeling just like an Edo native.
Now we head towards Kokusai Tenjijo Seimon Station from Telecom Station.
International Exhibition Hall, Ariake
Get off the Yurikamome at Kokusai Tenjijo Seimon Station. Unique architecture, this is Tokyo Big Sight. Tokyo Big Sight is the largest convention center in Japan, fully equipped with restaurants, and shops. Over 250 exhibitions and events are held throughout the year. Find an interesting, upcoming event and check it out.
Shower Tree 35, one of the largest indoor waterfalls in the world, can be seen at Wanza Ariake Bay Mall. About 2 tons of water pours down from a height of 35 meters for 7 minutes. The magnificent water show with lights and music can be seen every hour.
Panasonic Center offers a hands-on experience, where you can see and touch the latest Matsushita products. At the Nintendo Game Front, you can enjoy Nintendo game software. Let’s go to Dinosaur Factory inside Panasonic Center and experience dinosaur fossil research.
2 days in Odaiba just fly by. It’s already time to go back to the center of Tokyo from Rinkai Line, Kokusai Tenjijo Station.
(att.JAPAN Issue 14, December 2003)