Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Tokyo : Odaiba

Odaiba is one place which we have visited quite a few times, perhaps more than we have visited any of the other places in Tokyo.

Odaiba is a shopping cum restaurant cum entertainment area all put together with a great view of Tokyo Bay. Located on an artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Odaiba is a perfect place for a day out with family or friends, especially for Tokyoites.
During the Edo period, Odaiba was a cluster of small man made fort islands thus giving it the name “Daiba” which means fort. These forts were built to protect Tokyo from any potential sea attacks. In the late 20th century, these small islands were combined with massive land reclamation to form what is today’s Odaiba. In the 1990’s, the Yurikamome rapid transit system connected Odaiba to Tokyo, thus attracting  several hotels and shopping malls to set shop here and this in turn contributed to Odaiba’s emergence as one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist attraction. 

The Rainbow Bridge connects Odaiba to Tokyo and is an iconic symbol of Tokyo Bay. 
Rainbow Bridge is a 798 meter long suspension bridge which was constructed between 1987 and 1993. 
The Rainbow Bridge carries three modes of transportation on its two decks- the lower deck carries the Yuikamome line in the centre, flanked on both outer sides by pedestrian walkways; while the upper deck carries the Shuto Expressway’s Daiba Route. 
For the motorway, there are restrictions on the kind of vehicles, while the walkway is open for pedestrians for only certain hours in the day. You could drive down to Odaiba, but parking charges are slightly on the higher side, especially in the malls.

Odaiba can be reached by water bus and ferries from various locations in Tokyo. Suijobus Ferries operate between Hinode Pier and various locations in Odaiba.
Ferries also connect Asakusa to Odaiba. 

Once you get to Odaiba, the best possible way to commute within the island would be to take a free shuttle bus. Shuttle bus stops are located at almost every important spot and there is a bus every 10-15 mins. The shuttle bus runs on a particular route and is the most convenient way to commute within Odaiba. Yurikamome line also runs through the island and you could ride the elevated train to save time.  

Some of the Major attractions in Odaiba are its many shopping malls:

Palette Town is a large shopping and entertainment complex and is home to Venus Fort shopping mall, Toyota Mega Web and “Daikanransha” – the Giant Ferris Wheel.
Venus Fort is a a Venice themed Shopping mall. 
The interiors are styled in Venetian style architecture while the ceiling is made to resemble open skies.

The ceiling changes colours according to the time of the day.

During special events like Christmas and New Year, there are special performances near the Fountain Plaza.

Special events are also held sometimes at the Church Plaza. 

A replica of the “Mouth of Truth” is also recreated close to the Main gate.

Venus Fort houses hundreds of shops, restaurants, fashion boutiques and outlet shops.

Toyota Mega Web is a huge showroom where the latest models of Toyota cars and car accessories are on display. You could try test driving one of the latest models. Old Toyota cars are also on display in the museum.

The Ferris Wheel at 115 metres is one of the largest Ferris Wheels in the world.
A 15 minute revolution in one of the glass cabins while viewing Tokyo Bay and Odaiba comes for a price of 900 yen per head.

Palette Town also houses Zepp Tokyo- one of Tokyo’s largest nightclubs and Tokyo Leisureland- a round-the-clock, gaming and karaoke spot.

Located close to the Odaiba Marine Park are two shopping malls: Decks and Aquacity Odaiba.
Decks comprises of Seaside Mall and Island Mall and each of its floors are designed in different themes. Decks also has a gaming centre, Joypolis.

Aquacity mall too has a lot of shops and restaurants and a nice food court.

The Odaiba Marine Park or the “Odaiba Kaihin Koen” is a good place for a leisurely walk on the Board walk. Swimming is prohibited at the beach, which happens to be Tokyo’s only beach. 
A small replica of the Statue of Liberty stands in the Marine Park.
The Rainbow bridge, Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Bay behind the statute makes it a picture perfect.
Just across the road from Aquacity and Decks is the Fuji TV Building. 
This building is a landmark of Odaiba. Visitors can take a look at some of the studios and if lucky can even catch a glimpse of a shoot in progress.  An observation deck inside a titanium ball offers a 270 degree view of Tokyo Bay and the surroundings.

 On clear weather days, Mt Fuji can be spotted too.
At specific times, a mascot/character from one of Fuji TV’s shows poses for pictures with guests. (Admission : Free to visit; Observation deck: 500 yen)

The Telecom Center building with its unique architecture is another one of Odaiba's landmarks.
Several satellite antennae are installed on the telecom centre making it an important hub on the information highway. This building too has an observation tower . A ticket costs 500 yen.   

The Tokyo Big Sight, also known as Tokyo International Exhibition Centre, is Japan’s largest exhibition and convention centre.
It plays host to some of the big events like the bi-annual Tokyo Motor Show and the Tokyo International Anime Fair.
For Museum Lovers, there a lot of Museums in Odaiba- Museum of Maritime Science, National Museum of Emerging Science, and also Takoyaki Museum(at Decks). 

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