Tokyo Guide: Odaiba
Tokyo Area Guide: Odaiba お台場
Odaiba (or Daiba), built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, is a new high-tech shopping, restaurant, residential and entertainment area in south-west Tokyo.
You can catch Japanese TV dramas in the making at the wildly futuristic looking Fuji TV studio, meander through Venus Fort: a "theme park for ladies" built in the style of an eighteenth century European city, or pay a visit to the Maritime Museum (Tel: 03 5500 0011), housed in a reproduction of a cruise ship, and there's a great view of Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge. Not surprisingly, Odaiba is popular with the young and dating couples.
Odaiba's name (お台場) comes originally from the gun emplacements built here to protect Tokyo Bay in the Edo Period of Japanese history. Only six of the planned eleven island fortresses were completed in a futile attempt to ward off the return of Commodore Perry and his "Black Ships" in the 1850s. Battery number 6 remains in Tokyo Bay and battery number 3 became Metropolitan Daiba Park in the the 1920s.
In the late 1980s "Bubble Period" of Japan's economy the Tokyo Metropolitan Government began a huge development of the site, but the subsequent economic slump put paid to the original grandiose plans.
Since the late 1990s, Odaiba has made a comeback as a fashionable leisure and shopping area for young Tokyoites.
Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba
Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba, Tokyo
Odaiba's shopping and entertainment options include Tokyo Big Sight - the country's largest exhibition center. The annual Tokyo Anime Fair is held here in March. Tokyo Big Sight is also the venue for the biannual Design Festa.
Tokyo Big Sight is accessible from both Kokusai Tenji-jo Seimon station (Exit 1) on the Yurikamome Line, and Kokusai Tenji-jo station on the Tokyo Rinkai Line.
DiverCity Tokyo Plaza is a new retail and entertainment complex with an 18m-tall Gundam figure outside. The DiverCity Tokyo Plaza complex contains Bandai's Gundam Front Tokyo dedicated to all things Gundam including Gundam scale models such as a full scale Core Fighter Ver. GFT "mecha" and a 1/3000 A Baoa Qu Space Fortress. Also on display are original drawings by robot designer Okawara Kunio and animator Yasuhiko Yoshikazu. Another section of the museum contains over 1,000 Gunpla plastic models of robots and battleships. Retail outlets at DiverCity include Uniqlo, Zara, Armani Jeans and H&M.
The nearby Panasonic Center (03 3599 2600) is dedicated to the technology of the Osaka-based electronics giant Matsushita. The center showcases cutting-edge electronics (HD TVs, Blu-Ray, DVD etc), eco-homes, product design and includes a Nintendo games center and RiSuPia: "an experience-oriented museum for visitors to experience the fun of science and mathematics." Entrance to the Panasonic Center is free though there is a 500-yen charge for adults to RiSuPia. There are other Panasonic Centers in Osaka and Beijing.
On the other side of National Highway 357 from the Panasonic Center is the Ariake Tennis-no-Mori Park and Ariake Colosseum. Ariake Colosseum (Tel: 03 3529 3301) hosts the Japan Open Tennis Tournament in October as well as other sports and music events. The 10,000-capacity building has a retractable roof. Kokusai Tenji-jo station on the Tokyo Rinkai Line is the nearest access point.
Tokyo Big Sight, Odaiba
One stop west at Aomi Station on the Yurikamome Line is Palette Town - home to Venus Fort, a European-theme mall, the 115m-diameter Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel, Megaweb - a high-tech Toyota car showroom and the Zepp Tokyo concert hall.
Further west is the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (MeSci) - Nihon Kagaku Miraikan - (Tel: 03 3570 9151) - an excellent, interactive museum dedicated to robotics, space travel and superconductivity.
A short walk north from MeSci is the Museum of Maritime Science with two real ships, the Antarctic exploration vessel, Soya and the ferry Yotei Marine docked outside the cruise-ship shaped museum building. Inside the museum and its grounds are model boats, submarines, a flying boat and two outdoor swimming pools open in summer.
The Oedo Onsen Monogatari (Tel: 03 5500 1126) at Telecom Center Station on the Yurikamome Line is a kitschy reconstruction of Edo Period onsen bathhouses. A hot-spring theme park, Oedo Onsen Monogatari offers various types of baths, footbaths, sandbaths and massages as well as a restaurant and relaxation area. There are free shuttle buses from Tokyo Station, Shinagawa Station and Tokyo Teleport Station on the Rinkai Line.
Odaiba's man-made beach in Odaiba Seaside Park is near to Rainbow Bridge and includes a scale copy of the Statue of Liberty. Swimming in Tokyo Bay is not recommended however.
Fronting the beach are two shopping malls: Decks Tokyo Beach (Tel: 03 3599 6500) and Aqua City (Tel: 03 3599 4700). Decks includes the Hong Kong food theme park "Daiba Little Hong Kong" and "Joypolis" a mega-arcade of games from Sega. Aqua City has a food court, two floors of restaurants plus brand shops and Mediage. Mediage (Tel: 03 5531 7800) incorporates a multiplex cinema, a wedding chapel, Sony ExploraScience technology museum (admission 500 yen adults) and more shops and restaurants.
Behing Aqua City is Tange Kenzo's futuristic Fuji TV Building complete with a giant sphere incorporated into the building as an observatory on the 25th floor (500 yen) and gift shop.
Fuji TV Headquarters, Odaiba
Odaiba has a number of hotels mostly in the medium to higher price range. Recommended hotels include: Grand Pacific Le Daiba Hotel, Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel, Hotel Nikko and Hotel Sunroute Ariake.
Access to Odaiba is by the Rinkai Line to Tokyo Teleport Station or by the Yurikamome monorail to Daiba Station, across Rainbow Bridge from Shinbashi Station. There are buses from Shinagawa Station or a ferry from Hinode Sanbashi.
To get to the Maritime Museum (Fune no kagakukan) alight at Fune-no-Kagakukan Station on the Yurikamome Line.
Odaiba Sunset, Tokyo
Odaiba Ferris Wheel, Tokyo