Fuji TV building at Odaiba
Odaiba (north of Tsukiji, reached by Yurikamome monorail from Shimbashi Station) is a futuristic shopping and entertainment center built on an island reclaimed from a landfill and Tokyo Bay in the 1980s. Comprised of glass-and-steel towers, geometric structures and covered walkways, it draws large crowds and brings to mind a settlement on another planet.

Sometimes called Daiba, Odaiba contains themed shopping malls, a museum, a television broadcast center, various sports facilities, an exhibition center, theme parks, two virtual reality entertainment centers, a vehicles-of-the future display, a brewery, a waterfront replica of the Statue of Liberty, restaurants, hotels and what used to the world's tallest Ferris wheel. The major landmark at Odaiba is the ball-topped Fuji Television building designed by the famous Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. Opened in 2002, the building is home to Fuji TV’s main offices and lots of other stuff.

The main access to Odaiba is via Yurikamome, a computerized unmanned transit system that crosses Rainbow Bridge at its entrance and runs through the area. The Yurikamome monorail to Odaiba travels 14 meters (45 feet) above Tokyo for much of the way, offering interesting views of the Tokyo Bay area and spirals up a large loop before crossing the Rainbow Bridge. A round trip from Shimbashi Station costs US$8.

Odaiba is part of Tokyo Bay Development Area, also known as Rinkai Fukutoshin. It was supposed to be centerpiece of this garden development scheme for Tokyo Bay but the scheme was scaled down after the bursting of the Bubble Economy in the early 1990s. The apartment complexes initially had a hard time attracting buyers and renters but now are largely full. Those that live there like modern conveniences such as trash shoots that deliver garbage in a cushion of air to an in-house recycling plant. Websites: Wikitravel Wikitravel ; Japan Guide japan-guide.com Odaiba suggestions Sugihara.com Odaiba Map: Japan National Tourism Organization tokyo.grandnikko.com

Places of interest include Odaiba Kaihin Park, Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation), Museum of Maritime Science, Telecom Center Observatory, Fuji Television, Tokyo Big Sight (exhibition hall) and Panasonic Center.

Rinkai Fukotoshin (or Rainbow Town, on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay). The good views from the observation deck of the ship-shaped maritime museum.

Rainbow Bridge is gleaming, relatively new, 798-meter-long suspension bridge that connects mainland Tokyo with the Odaiba area. Its named is derived from its changing color lights. In 2000, a Japanese man hijacked a 747 and killed the pilot on the plane in an effort to steer the plane towards Tokyo and fly it under Rainbow Bridge. Website: Wikipedia Wikipedia

Shopping at Odaiba

Rainbow Bridge
Venus Fort is a shopping mall oriented towards women. Featuring squares and fountains in an attempt to evoke the atmosphere of an 18th century European, it contains expensive restaurants and upscale shops. It is popular place for dates and lady's days out. Every two hours the cloud-painted ceiling simulates a sunset. One reason for this is that studies have shown customers spend more money near dusk.

Decks Tokyo Beach features Sega’s Tokyo Joypolis (indoor theme park), many shops and restaurants. Diver City Tokyo Plaza, is shopping complex adjacent to the 20-meters (65 feet)-high Gundam statue. Donguri Kyowakoku sells a wide range of original character goods modeled on Hayao Miyazaki’s works. Donguri Kyowakoku means “Republic of acorns” in English.

Other themed shopping areas include Aqua City, and Palette Town. Almost every week one of them sponsors some kind of event and entertainment. Worth checking is large manga and anime themes shop with lots of books and magazines as well as all kinds of merchandise with favorite manga and anime characters.

Rides and Baths at Odaiba

Aqua City Odaiba is an entertainment complex (large cinema theaters). The 25-floor observation deck on the Fuji Television building is inside the metallic ball. The Wonder Wheel Ferris wheel is 376 feet high and carries 384 people, six to a gondola, for 16-minute rides for $6.50. On clear days you can see Mt. Fuji. Cruises to the mainland are available on weirdly-designed boat that looks like something out of Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”.

Neo Geo World is a virtual reality museum organized by places. New York Get Away is a mini-roller with taxi cabs driven by maniacal drivers. Mind Planet is a visit to a "virtual car." The Peep Ge, is a 3-D theater with awesome special affects. Particularly exciting is when a Japanese actress throws a 3-D bomb that explodes right in your face.

Inside the Fuji building
Toyota City Showcase and Toyota-operated Mega Web run a small track where visitors can test drive cars, including a kid'-size car with an automated driving system, and use virtual reality driving simulators. Visitors can also design cars using computer simulation. Nearby their a Hyper Drop ride, which raised people slowly to 58 meters and then drops them suddenly to the ground. Sometimes bungee jumping is done indoor from a 30-meter-high platform

Joypolis (at Odaiba) is a huge arcade operated by Sega with life-size versions of its video games along with virtual reality white water rafting, skateboarding, searching for treasures and fighting monsters in a medieval castle. In one ride you and six other people cruise around in a submarine and shoot at giant octopuses and other creatures with an electric gun.

Murder Lodge is considered so scary visitors are advised to take off their headsets if they get too frightened. There are also cheap gags like benches that makes toilet flushing sounds and trash can that complains whenever they are used. About 1 million people use Joyopolis every year. The entrance fee is $32 and popular rides cost an additional $4 to $6 each. There is also a Joyopolis in Shinjuku and another in Umeda in Osaka.

Joypolis recorded more than 50 accidents between 1996 and 2004 when a visitor died in the skydiver tower. The accidents included broken bones and getting wedged between equipment. The death was caused when a disabled man fell to his death his because his safety harness was not set correctly, leaving enough space for him to slip out. Website: Joypolis site tokyo-joypolis.com

Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari (in the Odaibo area) is one of Tokyo’s biggest spas. A hot springs theme park where you can enjoy a variety of hot springs as well as the traditional lifestyle and culture of the earlier Edo Period, It has indoor and outdoor baths of varying sizes, temperatures, landscapes and designs fed by an ion-rich spring more than 4,600 feet below the surface. Among is oddest treatments are the Doctor Fish “pedicure” featuring small fish imported from Turkey that eat away the skin of the bather, and a sand bath, where customer are buried except for their face under three feet of very hot sand . The facility is open 22 hours a day (closed from 9:00am to 11:00pm) and tatami mats and blankets and reclining chairs with entertainment systems for relaxing and taking a nap. Website: Ooedo-Onsen-Monogatari site daiba.ooedoonsen.jp

Madame Tussauds Tokyo

Madame Tussauds Tokyo (in Odiaba, Odaiba-KaihinKoen Station, Yurikamome line) is a wax museum featuring over 70 celebrities and historic figures with opportunities to snap photos adjacent to your favorite stars Japanese stars including Olympic figure skaters Mao Asada and Yuzuru Hanyu. In the Explore Zones — History and Culture, Sports, Fashion Zone , Celebrities, Film, Leaders, Music — you can find Yayoi Kusama, Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein,, Becky , Rola, Atsuko Maeda, Danmitsu, Brad Pitt, Matsuko Deluxe, Marilyn Monroe Sakamoto Ryoma, Leonardo Di Vinci, X Japan’s Yoshiki, Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Oshima Yuko, David Beckham, Maria Sharapova.Angelina Jolie, Madonna, Messi and Lady Gaga.

Sit in the Oval Office with Barack Obama and have a phot op with Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge, Junichiro Koizumi, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. You can drink tea with Audrey Hepburn in her Breakfast at Tiffany’s cosume, jump on the back of Tom Cruise’s motorbike, audition for film director Steven Spielberg, or get ready to "Die Hard" with Bruce Willis. At the Hologram Dance Theater you can get your celeb dance on

One person posted on Trip Advisor: “Chance to create a wax model of your own hand as a souvenir Amazing place - you can make your own wax hands for 1000Yen, and interact with all the figures ie pretend to write on Einstein’s blackboard, have a portrait painted by Leonardo, read a UN speech on TV, play tennis next to Maria Sharapova. A good mix of famous people to interest everyone.”

Shoji Ichihara wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “On the day I visited, the real Yoshiki from the visual-kei rock band X Japan was taking a picture with his "alter ego" to celebrate the unveiling of his wax figure. "It looks so realistic that it’s a bit scary. I might see it in my dreams," Yoshiki mumbled. The production of the Yoshiki figure started in June. Between his busy schedule on tour in Europe, staff took between 150 and 200 measurements of Yoshiki’s body in Paris and London. "I had to stand still, but it tickled," the band leader said. Based on the measurements, dozens of workers molded and colored the figure, spending about three months and 19 million yen to finish it. [Source: Shoji Ichihara, Yomiuri Shimbun, December 16, 2011]

“Being displayed at Madame Tussauds means being recognized as a global celebrity. It is considered an honor to have a figure done by them, even though the models are not paid. The figures on display in Tokyo are true superstars — Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio and Lady Gaga, just to name a few. The display also features popular fictional characters such as Spider-Man and Astro Boy. The realistic and lifelike figures look as if they have just stepped out of a movie or manga. The figures, including Yoshiki, in the display are not cordoned off from visitors. Tony Morris, global customer experience manager at Merlin Entertainments, which operates Madame Tussauds, said visitors can take pictures with or touch the figures to enjoy the feeling of meeting real celebrities.”

Location: Madame Tussauds are located within Decks Tokyo Beach in Odaiba, Tokyo, right next to the Legoland Discovery Center. Address: Odaiba 1-6-1 Decks Tokyo Beach Island Mall 3F, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 135-0091, Japan. Admission: Online price: 1,300 yen; Walk up Price: 2,300 yen. About 30 percent cheaper for children. Hours Open: 10:00am-4:00pm. Getting There: Madame Tussauds is just two minutes walk away from Odaiba-KaihinKoen Station, Yurikamome line. Tokyo Teleport Station, on Rinkai Line is five minutes away from Madame Tussauds. Website: madametussauds.jp/tokyo

Legoland Discovery Center Tokyo

Legoland Discovery Center Tokyo (Odaiba) is an indoor Lego park with three million bricks, ten build and play zones and three rides It features a Miniland Tokyo—a dioramic cityscape filled with mini reconstructions of some of Tokyo’s most famous landmarks. Other attractions include a dynamic 4D cinema and three themed rides. Japan's first indoor theme park dedicated to the iconic brick, adults must be accompanied by a child to enter.

One person posted on Tripadvisor : “Very poor value for money...My son insisted on coming here when we were in Tokyo in early Feb. Unfortunately it was a real disappointment and I probably should have done more comprehensive research before. World said: “Good rainy day weather place...We came here on our trip my son was 9 at the time and he LOVED it. He loves lego so it was a nice way to get out.

Another said: “Lots of mothers with strollers! I think only suitable for kids around 5 or 6. Most exhibits are very small and the 3D movie is probably the best. Yet another posted: “Overcrowded and not much fun...Be prepared for lots of queueing, overcrowding and not much Legoing. We went on a Tuesday morning and still had to wait for everything. 30+mins for to ride Merlin's chairs. Location: Decks Tokyo Beach island mall 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato City, Tokyo. Hours Open: 10:00am-8:00pm weekdays, 10:00am-9:00pm Saturdays and Sundays. Last entry 120 minutes before closing. Admission: 2400 yen. Getting There: Yurikamome Line, Odaiba-kaihinkoen Station, 2 minute walk.

Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Odaiba) has interactive displays that explain science and atomic power. One of them is a glass vacuum bowl that contains a ball of plasma that emits electric charges. Touch the bowl and streaks of "lighting" reach out from your hands. Another device called the "standing wave" uses Styrofoam particles to show how sound waves move. The museum is also known as simply as the Miraikan.

Miraikan National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation allows visitors of all ages to interact with its exhibits in order to come away with a greater understanding of the recent scientific discoveries that are changing the way we view the world.Ryotaro Maeda wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “You can have fun creating your own mini-earthquake at the Miraikan museum. A collection of three seismometers there is sensitive enough to pick up vibrations from people stomping on the floor or pounding on an adjacent table. "Small children like this system very much," said Mayumi Hoshiba, one of the "science communicators" who assists museum visitors. [Source: Ryotaro Maeda, Yomiuri Shimbun, January 4, 2012]

“Each of the three seismometers has a different orientation: east-west, north-south or up-down. Vibrations cause a magnet to sway from side to side or bounce on a spring. The magnets' motion alters electrical signals sent out by the devices. Input from stomping children limits the usefulness of data from this set of devices, but a real working seismometer is buried nearby at a depth of about 3,000 meters, Hoshiba said. "If you want to see the real data from the vibration, we have to put the seismometer that deep," she said. Such a great depth is necessary partly to reach solid rock at the bottom of the sedimentary basin on which Tokyo was built, and partly to escape the "noise" from cars and subway trains.

“A large map on the wall is covered with lights indicating data from other seismometers around the nation. Hoshiba said that one buried at the "very shallow" depth of 100 meters on the Oga Peninsula in Akita Prefecture sometimes detects the pounding of rough winter waves on the Sea of Japan. Science communicators also conduct simple experiments. Hoshiba said that soil liquefaction during an earthquake can cause buried items — such as sewer pipes — to rise to the surface. To demonstrate, she produced a clear plastic bottle full of water, with beads buried in sand at the bottom. When she tapped the bottle, simulating the vibrations of an earthquake, the beads popped out of the sand.” Location: 2-3-6 Aomi, Koto-ku, Tokyo, +81-3-3570-9151; Admission: 600 yen for adults, 200 yen for those 18 and younger. Hours Open: 10:00 a.m.-5:00pm Closed: Tue., December 28-January 1 and during facility maintenance. Getting There: 4-minute walk from Telecom Center Station on Yurikamome Line. Website: miraikan.jst.go

Museum of Maritime Science

The Museum of Maritime Science (on Tokyo Bay in Odaiba, subway Yurikamome Line, Fune-no-Kagakukan Station) is housed in a six-story building shaped like a full-sized ocean liner and is focused mainly on ocean-going vessels. The museum has five main areas, and provides information about ocean development, sea exploration, the history and technology of ships, ship steering, fishing boats and ports, marine transport, marine leisure activities, and Japanese ships. Visitors can simulate the experience of steering a ship using a radio-controlled ship and watch a film, “The Ocean, Ships and People”, on a two-story screen set in the basement of the Marine Theater. The library has a collection maritime-related books. The observation area has panoramic views of Tokyo Bay.

The grounds of the museum are home to monuments and vessels related to important milestones of Japanese maritime history. Most of the information is in Japanese. The Soya, a ship moored off the grounds, was constructed in 1938 and was used as a cargo icebreaker and served as Japan’s first Antarctic observation ship. The Soya was called a miracle ship because it did not sink despite repeated torpedo attacks during World War II. There is also a submarine, the main battery of the battleship Mutsu and a very interesting superconducting electromagnetic propulsion system that was built as a world first for the Yamato 1, an experimental craft from the early 1990s. You can also check out the Tankai research submarine

There are canine mannequins of two dogs Taro and Jiro that pulled sleds for a research team in the Antarctic. These dogs were from harsh Sakhalin Island (now part of Russia) and were well adapted to cold. They dogs miraculously survived after they were abandoned for a long time at Showa Station in the Antarctic. Their story was later adapted for a popular movie. Location: museum located in Higashiyashio, Shinagawa, Tokyo on Odaiba, Address: museum located in Higashiyashio, Shinagawa, Tokyo on Odaiba, 3 Chome-1 Higashiyashio, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 135-0092. Tel: 03-5500-1111 Hours Open: 10:00am to 5:00pm.

Image Sources: 1) Edo-Tokyo Museum 2) 3) 4) Tokyo National Museum 5) 16) Ray Kinnane 6) 7) Ghibli Museum 8) Tepco Museum 9) National Science Museum 10 Sumo Museum 11) 12) 13) 14) 15) Twin isles

Text Sources: JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization), Japan.org, Japan News, Japan Times, Yomiuri Shimbun, UNESCO, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020

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