Odaiba, Tokyo

Odaiba is a human-made island located in Tokyo Bay. Since its inception, it has served a number of purposes, but today is a center for leisure and commerce. The city is fairly compact and grid-like, so is very easy to navigate and all of the various places of interest can be reached on foot or via bus. Some of the highlights include Odaiba’s Marine Park, an artificial beach where various events take place throughout the year; numerous shopping plaza’s; Miraikan, a museum showcasing the future of technology in various sectors; and Oedo Onsen Monogatari, an Edo-themed bathhouse.

For more information about Odaiba, check out the links below:

Getting There

There are actually a three trains leading into Odaiba. These include the:

  • Yurikamome Line
  • Rinkai Line
  • Tokyo Monorail

In a addition to the trains, there are also several busses including shuttle services leading from both Tokyo airports. The Narita shuttle takes about an hour, while the Haneda shuttle takes roughly 15 minutes.

If scenic routes are your thing and you are up for a nice leisurely stroll, visitors have the option of walking across the world-famous Rainbow Bridge. To get to the bridge, you’ll need to walk to its base from Tamachi station (about 10 minutes), then take an elevator up to the main walking path. From here, it’s a pretty much linear path, so you can take your time and enjoy the weather/view. One thing to note for cyclists: you can brink your bike, however, you will have to walk it while on the actual bridge. If you don’t mind this minor hassle, bringing a bike makes traversing Odaiba incredibly easy and, in my opinion, is the best way to go.

For more detailed directions, see the link below:

Odaiba Marine Park

The first thing you’re most likely to see upon arriving into the human-made island is Odaiba Marine Park, an artificial beach running about 800 meters long. The beach is an excellent place for an afternoon walk. There are also open volleyball areas and shops where you can rent windsurfing gear. Also, walking to the other end of the park reveals Tokyo’s very own statue of liberty as well as some pretty gorgeous views of Rainbow Bridge (especially pretty at night time).

In the summer, the Marine Park often hosts volleyball competitions or other interesting events. So be sure to check the event schedule  before planning your trip to see what’s going on.

Shopping

If you enjoy shopping, then it’s very hard not to love Odaiba. With tons of shopping areas scattered about, there certainly isn’t a shortage of stores to peruse. I’ve been to Odaiba more than a handful of times, and I still haven’t seen all of the stores there are to see. Below are a few shopping centers I especially enjoy.

Diver City Plaza

Aside from the standard shopping mall and food court, Diver City is perhaps most famous for its giant Gundam  statue standing at the entrance of the mall. If you’re lucky, the Gundam even sometimes lights up at night, presenting a very cool photo op. Fans of the series will also be excited to know there is a Gundam gift shop nearby which sells collectables from the series.

In addition to the Gundam, if you’re a fan of Mexican food and skateboarding, there is a Mexican restaurant on the 7th floor, which also hosts a pretty impressive rooftop skate park!

Aqua City Odaiba

Aqua City is another large multi-story shopping complex. Aside from the shopping, Aqua City also houses a 13-screen theater and an entire section dedicated to different types of ramen that can be found in the various prefectures of Japan. There is also a pretty cool deck area with lots of great views of Tokyo and Rainbow Bridge, so it’s definitely worth spending some leisure time just walking around.

Venus Fort

This 18th-century Europe-themed shopping complex is located in Odaiba’s Palette Town and probably takes the cake for the number of stores. You could easily spend your entire day shopping in Venus Fort, stopping for lunch and dinner at the numerous cafes or restaurants.

Miraikan

Miraikan, also known as the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, is one of my favorite museums in Tokyo. The Museum showcases cutting-edge technology used to solve various problems in different sectors of society; from issues in environment and sustainability to solutions in space exploration. There’s even a Robot show starring ASIMO, a humanoid robot created by Honda. The museum will cost 620 yen for adults or roughly 200-ish yen for children. There are also often special exhibits which will cost a bit more than the standard rate.

For more details about Miraikan, see the links below:

I should note that Miraikan is not the only museum in Odaiba, there is also the Museum of Maritime Science which I have never visited. But if you are a maritime kind of person, it’s probably worth checking out.

Oedo Onsen Monogatari

Oedo Onsen is an Edo-style onsen (hot spring) theme park. The theme park is actually a chain with the next nearest location being in Chiba. The entrance fee ranges from 2,000 yen to 2,800 yen, but there are offer discount coupons posted on their website or via their mailing list offering much lower rates.

Upon checking in to the facility, you will be given a wrist magnet with which to make all of your purchases on premises, then asked to choose a yukata of your liking. After this, you will be directed to the changing areas to lock up all of your belongings aside from anything you might need throughout the day. Once you are all changed and your things are safely stored, you are free to enter the theme-park area. No money is necessary as everything is tracked via your wrist magnet. I thought this made the experience much more care-free, removing the added stress of carrying cash everywhere you go.

The first part of the theme park you will see is a large open area where sweet shops and game stalls have been set up. In the middle of all of this stands an enormous Edo-style tower, giving the whole room a sort of old-time Japanese market feel. Connected to this room is a large cafeteria where visitors can purchase from a variety of Japanese restaurants. There are cafeteria style seats available, or if you plan to take a fair amount of time eating, there is also a large open room lined with low Japanese style tables and floor cushions, perfect for taking a quick nap if you’re a bit tuckered out from your day.

Aside from these public spaces, there are of course hot spring areas, divided into two sections: one form men and one for women. The onsen areas consist of various bath types, each featuring a different mineral, style of jet, or temperature. There is also a cold bath in which you are supposed to dip between hot baths to improve your blood circulation. Be sure not to miss the sauna or outdoor bath area to change the pace up between baths.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, there is also a massage area where you can pay for a professional massage,
or sit in a high-end massage chair. The chairs are placed in a very large open room which is designated for quiet, so anyone utilizing them can relax and nap peacefully.

Finally, if you need some fresh air, there is also an outdoor unisex foot bath. You can walk along the stone floor of the bath, which is quite painful at first, but actually makes your feet feel fantastic afterwards. Or you can simply walk along the paved path and enjoy the scenery.

You can find more information, and make reservations, below:

Events

Perhaps my favorite thing about Odaiba is that there always seems to be some sort of event going on. And considering Tokyo Big Site, Japan’s largest convention center, is located here, I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise. Below are a few events that I have personally been to and very much enjoyed.

Car Shows

The Toyota Mega Web, a large showroom, often hosts car shows featuring the latest and greatest in the car industry. (I’m not a car person, but it’s still always really cool to see what they’ve got.) And when there are no shows going on, guests can test drive cars (assuming you have a Japanese Driver’s License of course) or check out the car museum on location.

Beer Festival

It’s exactly what it sounds like. Beer manufacturers from all over Japan (and outside of Japan) come to showcase their beer. There are usually lots of food stalls and live bands playing throughout the day.

Meat Festival

This is pretty much the same kind of experience, only with more meat options. Honestly, all of these kinds of festivals seem the same to me, however, I can say I almost always have a great time when I go.

Volleyball Tournaments

These tournaments are held at the Marine Park and usually run for a week. The scene is always very lively and the competitions are quite fierce. It’s super fun to find a seat and just enjoy the show. And if you are more of an active type, there are open exhibition games going on throughout the day.

Concerts

Finally, from time to time, a Japanese artist will have a live show either outdoors or in Big Site. I actually don’t listen many Japanese musicians, however, whenever I’m in the area, I like to stop in if the event is free and I have some downtime. (One strange memory I have is seeing a teen girl-band playing in an outdoor festival and getting a bit uncomfortable when I noticed how many avid fans were older men that were not with families.)

For a list of upcoming events, see the Tokyo Odaiba events page below:

Odaiba has so much to offer. In this article, I’ve covered everything I particularly enjoy about the human-made island, however, there is so much more which I have yet to discover. For one thing, I have yet to ride the infamous ferris wheel! (I know right.) This place seems to always be changing, and always offers up something new and exciting. If you live in Tokyo, I’d say Odaiba is more than worth the trip. In fact, I’d say its worth planning visits every few months as your experience is sure to be different each time.

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