When you are European and visit Tokyo, you are amazed at every step and every moment. Mainly, two things fully contribute to Japan’s differentiation from the rest of the world: Japanese culture and tradition and the inclination towards science and technology. At least that’s how I saw it …When you have visited all the iconic places in Tokyo that you have proposed, you cannot go home without seeing another place: Odaiba Island.
Odaiba is a popular shopping and entertainment district on a man-made island in Tokyo Bay. It originated as a set of small man-made fort islands (daiba literally means “fort”), which were built towards the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868) to protect Tokyo against possible attacks from the sea and specifically in response to the gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Perry. More than a century later, the small islands were joined into larger islands by massive landfills, and Tokyo began a spectacular development project aimed to turn the islands into a futuristic residential and business district during the extravagant 1980s.
Access to Odaiba can be an attraction in itself, as the views of the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo’s harbor and waterfront area from the Yurikamome elevated train and boats are quite spectacular. Furthermore, it is also possible to walk across the Rainbow Bridge.
The Yurikamome is an automated, elevated train with rubber tires, which connects Shimbashi Station on the Yamanote Line with all of Odaiba’s attractions and Toyosu Station on the Yurakucho Subway Line. Trains depart every few minutes, and a ride between Shimbashi and Daiba Station takes 15 minutes and costs 330 yen. If you ride the Yurikamome more than twice, a 1-day pass for 820 yen is likely to pay off. The Yurikamome is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass. The Yurikamome crosses the Rainbow Bridge to get to Odaiba and offers spectacular views of the harbor and the Tokyo waterfront. Sit or stand at the very front of the train for the most impressive views.
Once you cross the Rainbow Bridge, step as if in the middle of the action of a science fiction film. Looking out the window of the suspended train, at every turn you expect to see a flying vehicle coming after a futuristic building, with robots that have a human appearance. This is the image I kept in mind about the island of Odaiba.
Here is what you can visit on this island:
Rainbow Bridge – The Rainbow Bridge connects Odaiba to the rest of Tokyo. The two-story bridge is an iconic symbol of the bay and is especially beautiful during its nightly illumination. The bridge supports an expressway, a regular road, the Yurikamome train line, and pedestrian walkways along both sides.
Fuji TV Building – The headquarters of Fuji Television, one of Japan’s private, nationwide TV stations. You can see some exhibits on popular programs, buy Fuji TV goods at a shop, and access the futuristic-looking building’s observatory deck housed in the sphere-shaped part of the building.
DiverCity Tokyo Plaza – This shopping, dining, and entertainment complex opened in 2012 and features attractions related to the Gundam anime series, including a large, “life-size” Gundam statue in front of the building and Gundam Base Tokyo, a shop dedicated to plastic models.
Tokyo Big Sight – Also known as Tokyo International Exhibition Center, Tokyo Big Sight is Japan’s largest exhibition and convention center and one of the bay islands’ boldest architectural creations. A wide array of events are held at the Big Sight throughout the year including the Tokyo International Anime Fair, the Comiket comic fair and the Tokyo Motor Show.
Telecom Center – The Telecom Center is a major hub on the information highway with several large satellite antennas on its observation deck. The observation deck also offers a nice view of the bay area and as far as Mount Fuji on clear days.
National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation – Also known as the Miraikan, this well done, highly interactive and bilingual science museum includes exhibits about environmental issues, robots (starring ASIMO among others), information technology, biology, and space exploration.
Venus Fort – Venus Fort is a shopping mall in the style of an 18th century South European town. The mall features over a hundred shops, fashion boutiques, cafes, and restaurants on three floors including a few outlets shops on the upper floor.
Toyota Mega Web – Mega Web is a giant Toyota showroom that shows off all of Toyota’s latest models, car accessories, and technologies. Attractions include test driving of cars (requires driving license valid for Japan) and a museum exhibiting cars from past decades.
teamLab Borderless – Borderless is a popular, new type of attraction featuring digital art. It is housed in a spacious building with multiple, dark rooms that are illuminated by colorful digital images projected on the walls, floors, and various objects. Some displays react to visitors’ movements. It is possible to spend several hours exploring the labyrinth of rooms. Advance ticket purchase is recommended on busy days, as tickets can sell out.
Ferris Wheel – This 115 meter tall ferris wheel is one of the world’s largest and offers nice views of Tokyo Bay and Odaiba below. Each cabin seats six (or four in the all-glass cabins), and the complete revolution takes about 15 minutes.
Hotels to stay on Odaiba island, you can find here!