Tokyo Guide Part 5: Odaiba
We continue to talk about Tokyo neighborhoods in a joint piece with KiMONO magazine. Today it’s Odaiba Island.
From the Editor: Tokyo is a state within a state. And if you don’t delve into the history, culture and traditions of the country and the city, you won’t understand anything about Tokyo. We were lucky to find an awesome guide through Tokyo – Ekaterina Stepanova, publisher and editor-in-chief of KiMONO magazine. Each week we’ll publish an itinerary for one of Tokyo’s neighborhoods. This week it’s Asakusa.
The artificial island of Odaiba looks like a futuristic city: modern buildings, unusual shopping malls, and views that take your breath away. Built only 20 years ago, it has become not only a center of technological progress, but also a favorite place for family recreation and entertainment for Tokyo residents.
Administratively, Odaiba belongs to three metropolitan areas: Minato, Koto, and Shinagawa. Only a small part on the northern shore of the island is named Daiba and translates to “fort with guns.” Its history began in 1853, when the American flotilla of Commodore Matthew Perry first appeared in coastal waters off Edo (formerly known as Tokyo). The Commodore intended to make several strategic agreements with Japan, but the deal fell through, and he threatened to return a year later.
To protect against the belligerent Americans and their “black ships,” the Shogun government ordered batteries with cannons to be installed right in the center of the bay. For this purpose, elaborate embankment work was carried out. But the islands, though confusing to Commodore Perry, could not prevent trade relations between the two countries. From those days on, Japan was the talk of the world.
Major embankment development in Tokyo Bay began in the 1990s. The first to appear were a few warehouses. Then the area was empty, and on the largest of the islands garbage was stored. But in 1993, after the construction of the Rainbow Bridge, which connected part of the Minato District and Odaiba Island, several large companies became interested in the place. One of the first to move its office was Fuji TV, and now the building with the big ball between the rectangular bars is one of the area’s landmarks.
The Yurikamome Line’s driverless trains leave for Odaiba Island from Shimbashi Station. Try to find a seat near the windshield of the first car and the views are guaranteed. The Yurikamoe line is named after the seagull that lives in the Tokyo Bay area and was chosen as the symbol of Tokyo Prefecture. The line is designed so that during travel, the train cars can barely be heard hovering above the city at third-floor level of the buildings flying by. For a full-day trip around Odaiba, it makes sense to buy a day pass, which costs 820 yen.
Miraikan Museum of Science and Technology
To get to the National Museum of Advanced Science and Technology Miraikan, drive to the Telecom Center station and then walk through the green square to the museum’s ticket office. One of the main exhibits of the museum is a model of our planet, the way the astronauts see the Earth, being on the near-Earth orbit. It was designed by the Japanese astronaut Mamoru Mori, who heads Miraikan. You can also see how astronauts live away from home in a compartment of the space station.
The best way to move around the museum is sitting on the UNI-CAB. This robot stool was created by Honda to allow a person to move around the museum with a simple tilt of the body. Visit the interactive exhibitions and, of course, the most popular show – a ten-minute performance of the robot Asimo. He runs, dances, talks and even plays soccer. The show starts at 11:00. The ticket price for adults is 620 yen and 210 yen for children under 18 years old.
Venus Fort Shopping Mall
You can get there by taking the same Yurikamoe Line train to Aomi Station. From the outside, the mall looks like an airplane hangar, but inside it looks like an Italian Renaissance town with a medieval church and a fountain with marble goddesses. Its ceiling imitates a blue sky with white clouds, and every hour the sky begins to darken and the streets of the city plunge into twilight. It is believed that shoppers are more willing to spend money when it is evening.
Venus Fort has three floors, each with its own specifics. The first floor is called Venus Family. It sells home goods, baby products, and pet supplies. Do not be surprised if you see customers walking their dogs here, it is allowed on the first floor. The second floor, Venus Grand, has trendy boutiques and famous brand stores. On the third floor, Venus Outlet, you will find clothes, shoes and accessories at great prices.
After shopping, have lunch at Café Uokomeya. It is located on the second floor of Venus Fort. At a round table on a balcony with marble columns, you can enjoy the view of the medieval town square. Despite the atmosphere, Uokomeya offers Japanese cuisine: a variety of fresh fish and other seafood, marbled beef, vegetable dishes and tofu, plus a large selection of sake. Lunch costs 1,300-2,500 yen.
There is a transition from the mall to the Toyota Megaweb showroom. This is the country’s premier car attraction and Toyota’s showroom. More than 60 of the most modern car models are on display on the first floor. You can not only look at them, get inside and explore everything, but also drive any car you like along the 1.3 kilometers long track. Do not forget to bring your international driving license. The price of a test drive is 300 yen.
On the second floor there are new designs of cars that look like spaceships, as well as sports and racing cars. If you come with children, they can also take a ride in small cars like the Camatte, Pius and Kids Hybrid Car. In the same building, you can also check out the “Historic Garage,” where models of cars from the 1950s and 1970s are on display.
Japan Part IV, Island of the Technological Future – Odaiba
Let’s go with you to Odaiba, and not the last time I think.
So what is Odaiba.
From what the Japanese told me:
In the early 19th century, at the entrance to Tokyo Bay, the emperor was ordered to erect protective pile fields, to make it difficult for enemy ships to pass through the bay and better control its fairway. By the end of the century, islands were piled on the piles and several gun batteries were installed. The batteries were replaced by warehouses, and port facilities, those by a grandiose dumping ground, which in turn was turned into Tokyo’s largest shopping and entertainment complex.
This is a dry historical reference.
What is most likely the famous and remarkable island (although to be precise, there are several), for the average citizen of the CIS countries? Probably the “Fuji TV” building and the “Rainbow Bridge”, which spectacularly crushes a huge pterodactyl in the Godzilla movie! And that’s about it!
Although no, in the age of the Internet, it has become fashionable to go to the high-tech Toyota Museum and write rave reviews about it!) Now that’s definitely it!
But why does everyone so insistently recommend to go there! Let’s get to the bottom of this.
(I remember exactly after the ascent to Fuji, where I wore new sneakers and they grated on my legs.) So my impressions of this advertising island of prosperity and high-tech of the late 90’s are a little different from those generally accepted.
The subway to Odaiba is not connected with the island by a monorail, as they call it, although in fact it is an automatic train which runs with rubber wheels on concrete rails. Also, you can get there by steamboat, which looks very similar to our “Rocket” and “Meteors”, but not the quality)))
This time we go by monorail. I remember exactly what I photographed from the window, because we were standing in the first car right in front of the glass, but for some reason no photos were left.
Going out of the station through the glass passages and… I still have that feeling – “not a delight”, when so much is told and suggested, but in fact… See for yourself.
We unfortunately did not get to see all 4 attractions on the island. One was taken for a drive around the country. But first things first: 1) The building Fujii TV, visible from Tokyo, zalyavshis in almost all the movies 90 and many 2000’s, All square and rectangular, and the top, suddenly – the ball!(first photo) In the ball, as usual, cafe, exhibition, scratched plastic windows and a paid entrance, the ball rotates by the way!)
But for those who are not interested in visiting the egg, and just want to look at the panorama of the city, you can use the service elevator and climb to the same height (-2.5 meters to be exact) with the same crooked, scratched glass, but completely free.
Right under the windows of FujiTV, work is boiling on the new foundations, the island is once again booming
Don’t be surprised, there will be people walking and working around, but no one will chase you away.(It was and most likely is now)
2) Statue of Liberty! No, it’s not a gift from the U.S. and not a sign of commitment to its values and ideas, it stands here in honor of the year of France in Japan (Unexpectedly, right?!), At first it was temporary, and then settled down…)
3) Museum and headquarters of Toyota! Here about this high-tech and super-duper museum will tell separately! Although no, here are the most interesting exhibits:
One of them Ilya even tried on himself!))
Even though we didn’t get to see the fourth attraction, but I’ll tell you a little bit about it anyway.
This is 18 meters long mockup of Gundam robot from popular Anime in Japan!
No kidding, it was and still is one of the most popular Place of interest in Tokyo! And in the year of its creation it was not only the center of an exhibition named after itself, but also the cause of scientific symposiums, where they talked about the advanced technology and abilities of this character!
I saw it now, and it was a shame I hadn’t seen it… the smoke from the body, the lights, and the rotating head!
To summarize the above, I would like to say. If you want to experience the atmosphere of Japan in the late 80’s and early 90’s, to remember your youth and to see film footage with your own eyes, you should definitely come here. It is also worth a visit if you are a fan of urban leisure and shopping. You can go to the aquarium, wander the malls, like our “Mega”, take a ride on the tired Ferris wheel, to eat at a cafe with a view of the rainbow bridge. After all that will probably be cool to fall on a special bench and take a nap to the chirping of cicadas in the coastal park (the shopping and stuff do not worry, no one will not take them here).
But if you go especially to see the Toyota Museum or the headquarters of Fuji TV, then I would not waste time, there are many other interesting places in Tokyo.