Odaiba District Trip

On Saturday, July 1st, the Grants and we journeyed to the Odaiba area of Tokyo to see the sights. I had been thru this area many times before on my way to the Tokyo Convention Center (Big Sight), but had never stopped and seen the sights.

Odaiba (or Daiba) 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. But development was critically slowed after the burst of the "bubble economy" in the early 1990s, leaving Odaiba nearly vacant.

It was not until the second half of the 1990s, when several hotels, shopping malls and the Yurikamome elevated train line were opened, that Odaiba developed into one of Tokyo's most popular tourist attractions and date spots with a wide selection of shopping, dining and leisure options.

Despite the initial setbacks, several lavish development projects did materialize, including some of Tokyo's boldest architectural creations, such as the Fuji TV Building, Telecom Center and Tokyo Big Sight. Modern city planning furthermore provides Odaiba with plenty of green space and a pleasant division of motorized and pedestrian traffic using elevated walkways and the like.

We started from the Fussa Train station outside the base, and journeyd to Odaiba, first on the Chuo Train Line for about 80 minutes.
Jennifer and Richard riding the train with us to Odaiba.
We then took the Yurikamome monorail, which is an automated, elevated train with rubber tires, which connects Shimbashi Station on the JR 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 310 yen. 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. Here is a shot of the Rainbow Bridge from the West Side...
Here is a shot of us about to go on the Rainbow Bridge towards the Fuji Building. 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.
We got off the Monorail and visited the beach area in front of "Decks Tokyo Beach". Decks is a shopping mall featuring various stores, boutiques, cafes, and restaurants. The mall also houses the three story "Tokyo Joypolis" arcade
Next to the "Decks" is Aquacity. Aquacity is a shopping mall featuring various stores, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and a 13 screen cinema complex. The fifth floor houses a ramen food theme park where you can try different ramen from all over Japan. There are nice views of the Rainbow Bridge from the wooden deck in front of Aquacity and neighboring Decks. .

Looking back at the beach area, and some high rise towers.

Looking from the beach at the Fuji TV building.
Teresa poses in front of the Odaiba Cat Shop, located under the "Decks" shopping plaza.

Anything you need for your cat can be found here including outfits and wigs if that is your desire. There are always some cats for sale in here and they are beautiful. There is also a special area of the shop where you can pay to go and sit with some of the cats and give them a fuss. It might seem a strange idea but many people's apartments are too small for them to keep a pet so they take advantage of this kind of opportunity instead.

Looking from the Aqua City. While we were there, we toured the Sony Science Museum and had alot of fun playing with the exhibits, then we ate at a mexican restraunt that had the theme of an underground mine. There were 4 resturaunts next to each other, all with a great interior design of old europe.


Looking from the harbor side, back at Aqua City and the 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.
The French Statue of Liberty came to Odaiba, the beach area of Tokyo since April 1998 until May 1999 in commemoration of "The French year in Japan". Because of its popularity, in 2000, a replica of the French Statue of Liberty was erected at the same place. Also in Japan, a small Statue of Liberty is in the Amerika-mura (American Village) shopping district in Osaka, Japan. Another replica is located near the town of Shimoda south of Misawa, Japan where the United States has a U.S. Air Force base with 8,000 military members. This replica is located on the same latitude as the original statue in New York.
The Grants pose for a photo in front of the Statue of Libery in Tokyo.
There is something very captivating about the face of the Liberty Statue...
We then went to the Fuji TV building to visit the visitor center inside the sphere.
The sphere is located on teh 25th Floor. On March 10, 1997, Fuji TV moved from their old headquarters in Kawadacho, Shinjuku, into a new building in Odaiba, Minato designed by Kenzo Tange.

Since 2002, Fuji TV has co-sponsored the Clarion Girl contest, held annually to select a representative for Clarion who will represent Clarion's car audio products in television and print advertising campaigns during the following year. On March 3, 2006, Fuji Television Network Inc. consolidated "Nippon Broadcasting Holdings, Inc." the broadcasting business of which was took over by Nippon Broadcasting System, Inc. two days before.

We climb the main entrance stairs. We took the escalator on the side back.

Fuji TV, which broadcasts Formula One in Japan since 1987, is the only media sponsor of a Formula One Grand Prix in the world. Fuji TV has also licensed numerous Formula One video games including Human Grand Prix IV: F1 Dream Battle.

The headquarters of Fuji TV is one of the most striking buildings in all of Japan. This futuristic metallic building features a huge silver ball which is 32 metres in diameter and weighs an estimated one thousand and two hundred tons. The ball was actually built and lifted into position 123 metres off the ground where it is observation deck with views across Tokyo Bay and the Odaiba area.
The observation deck now requires a small fee to enter, this helped eliminate some of the huge crowds who flocked to the centre each day, even now with a modest charge the waiting time can be substantial.

The 25 floor building was designed by Japanese Architect Kenzo Tange took nearly three years to construct and is fully earthquake proof. Opening in 1997 the centre is home to the fully digital TV studio where much of its television programming is filmed.

Here is a shot looking North East, at Pallet Town, Venus Fort and the Telecom Center, which is a major hub on the information highway with several large satellite antennas on its observation deck. The observation deck also offers nice view of the bay area and as far as Mount Fuji on clear days.
Looking down at the bridge and a tour boat. In the middle of the skyline, you can see the Tokyo Tower. It is 333m in height. Since its opening in 1958, the Tokyo Tower has been the world's tallest self-supporting steel tower. The Eiffel Tower in Paris is 320 m high.

The Tokyo Tower weighs about 4,000 tons. It is much lighter than the Eiffel Tower, which weighs 7,000 tons, a result of remarkable advances in steel manufacturing and construction technology.
Just to the left of the observation sphere, you can see the siloiute of the Tokyo Sky Tree. The "Tokyo Sky Tree" is in the Narihirabashi/Oshiage area of Sumida Ward, Tokyo in 2012 and boasts a height of 634m. This tower is one of the world's tallest. In July 2011, the current analog broadcasting in Japan will end and a complete transition made to digital broadcasting.

Five commercial stations and NHK took this as a turning point to advance preparations towards digital broadcasting from a TV tower with a height of around 600m and decided on the Sumida/Taito area as the site for construction of the tower.

In addition, for "one-segment broadcasting (one-seg)," a digital broadcasting service for mobile devices that was launched in April 2006, it is ideal to have transmissions from a height that is not very vulnerable to the forest of super high-rise buildings that stand at heights of around 200m in downtown Tokyo

One of Tokyo Bay's harbor tour ports is in Odaiba. Most tours are about 50 minutes long, and take you to several different docks where you can get out, explore that area, then get back on the boat.
Inside the Fuji TV Sphere, they currently have an animated TV series expo going on. The animated TV show is called "One Piece" and is a childrens pirate themed show.
Teresa and I pose with the Rainbow Bridge behind us.
Lots of constructioin is going on all over Odaiba, but wide streets and sidewalks are still plentiful.
Wandering inside the Fuji TV building, Richard and Jennifer stop for a photo op.
In the parking lot of the Fuji TV building is a life sized "One Piece" pirate ship being built.
We then headed over to the Maritime Museum in Odaiba. This museum looks like a large cruise ship docked along the Odaiba waterfront. Inside are exhibits on the history and technology of ships and shipping. Outside you can board two real ships on permanent display next to the museum. This propeller behind us was a single piece pour, in 2001. It was designed to push a 50,000 ton ship.
Inside the museum there were hundreds of ship models and displays, and life sized engines. Here is one that is 40 feet tall.

I pose in front of one of the exposed engine displays.

Lots of model ships, docks, and hands on training tools.

Then we headed outside to look at their real ship displays. They have 5 ships, but only one was open to the public at this time. The two commerical fishing vessels and sailing ship were closed. Also their cruise ship was closed.

We did tour the Soya, constructed in 1938 as a cargo icebreaker; it served as Japan's first Antarctic observation ship and provides views of living quarters, the galley, and machine rooms. It was a special duty ship during WWII, and miracously survived the war. In 1956 it became an Antartic Research Ship, and supported six missions. It then served as a patrol boat in Hokkaido and was then retired in 1978 to become a museum piece.

Under the heli-pad were spare parts, including spare propellers.

They had manikins in most of the rooms showing how life was lived on the cruises to the cold ends of the planet.

The radio room....most of the equipment is in english...

I pose on the bridge...

We were kinda hot and beat, and headed across a few blocks to Palette Town. It is comprised of several units, a Ferris Wheel, Toyota Mega Web, Venus Fort Shopping Mall and Leisure Land. The Toyota center had all the latest cars and gadgets, including their version of the Segway.

Venus Fort is a shopping mall in the style of a 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.

VenusFort is a shopping mall designed to resemble a medieval European village. The Sky Feature Program displays a fantastical sky expanding overhead, creating a magical atmosphere where time flows unlike anything in the outside world. December 2009 saw the opening of the first outlet floor in Tokyo’s 23wards, transforming VenusFort into a "hybrid shopping mall." It's broken into segments by large plaza open areas. This area is the "Fountain Plaza".

We had a nice french style dinner here...it was pretty good. We really wanted to come back and see more of the mall, but we were getting pretty tired, and decided to start heading back...which is about 3 hours to accomplish.

Here we are on the Monorail station at Pallettown looking north at the Tokyo Communications Building, Ferris Wheel and Pallet Town. We never made it to the Panasonic Center, which is on the list for next time!

Back in Tokyo, waiting for the train to take us back to Yokota Air Base!