There are pretty things one can create even from the left-overs of the bubble years
Eine deutsche Version dieses Artikels finden Sie hier.
Since the second half to the 90s of last century Tōkyō has yet another attraction for tourists and locals just as well: The man-made islands in the Tōkyō Bay. And one of those islands we are going to have a closer look at today: Odaiba (お台場).
If we want to simplify things a bit, one could say that these created islands at the city’s coast date back to the end of the Edo-period. The Tokugawa shōgune had ordered the erection of cannon strongholds (Daiba / 台場) in the Tōkyō Bay in the 50s of the 19th century – at a time where US-American troops were trying to force Japan to open its territory for foreign trade. The shōgune had hoped to be able to defend the country with these fortifications. Only five of the planned eleven islands were completed – however, they never were used for their intended purpose, because financial problems delayed the completion. And by the time they were completed, Japan had signed a treaty with the USA.
Of all those “daiba” only the sixth (of the planned eleven) is completely remaining. The largest part of today’s Odaiba is, however, a new island for which the filling of the shallow water of the bay was started in the 1970s. During the “bubble” economy in the middle of the 1980s the city had big plans for Odaiba. It was planned to make it a splendorous example for a modern, urban concept. But soon after, the economic bubble burst and the public interest weakened faster than the billions could be pumped into the development of the island.
Towards the end of the 90s of the last century, the opportunities of this island were re-discovered. Instead of letting it mutate to a business district only, a new focus was put on entertainment and amusement. Not only the futuristic head office of Fuji Television was built, but also modern condominiums and shopping- and exhibition complexes. And suddenly, Odaiba was “in” again – with foreign visitors as well as with the youth of the city. In the meantime the so-called Tōkyō Rinkai Fukutoshin (東京臨海副都心), of which Odaiba is a part, can easily be reached via the grand Rainbow Bridge (see my respective posting) and various railway lines.
Nevertheless, a top-ranking on the list of the popular places can be a rather short-lived one in Tōkyō. And, naturally, Odaiba constantly has to compete with the ever-growing number of new crowd pullers. So, don’t be surprised if you see yet another new complex built on the island when you go there next time.
Be that as it may, Odaiba sure has quite a bit to offer – things you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the city. Let me introduce you to some of the places of interest:
First of all, there is the futuristic (or at least “unusual”) head office of the private TV station “Fuji Television“. My tip: Don’t miss the view from the top of the building. It is simply breathtaking:
Also the “Palette Town” still attrackts a lot of visitors:
Part of it is the shopping mall called “Venus Fort“. It doesn’t look like much from the outside – it’s just an inornate, box-shaped hall. But the inside surprises with a “Disney”-version of a Renaissance town that may not house different shops and restaurants than elsewhere in the city, but in an atmosphere and appearance that is more than just a bit out of the ordinary.
One of the 10 tallest Ferris wheels can be found in the heart of the Palette Town. With its 115 meters of height it is also the second tallest in the country – only its sister at the Kasai Rinkai Park on the other side of the Tōkyō Bay is two meters taller (just for the sake of comparison: the wheel at the Prater in Vienna is just 65 meters tall – but the London Eye is 135 meters tall).
Right next door, the Japanese car company, Toyota, has its Show-Room, called “Megaweb”. There you’ll not only find the latest models of Toyota, but you can also have a look at what Toyota envisages as the car of the future. Also there is a parcours where you can try to drive one of Toyota’s cars. What seems to be of great fun for children: A ride on fully automated electric cars one a track around the building.
And, by the way, don’t be surprised if you find that the largest group of visitors comes from China. After all, the ambitious nation has to get its “ideas” from somewhere….
And how does one reach the island?
If you don’t mind a healthy walk, you can walk from Shibaura (芝浦) (the island the forms part of the coastline of Tōkyō, near Tamachi station), crossing the Rainbow Bridge (Reinbō Buriji, レインボーブリッジ) to Odaiba. That is, by the way, so much fun, that I’ve posted a separate article just for that. Have a look:
Tōkyō Rainbow Bridge (東京レインボーブリッジ) (Engl./dt.)
– Der beste Ort, um die Skyline Tōkyōs zu bewundern
– The best place to admire Tōkyō’s skyline
If you prefer railroad tracks, you can reach Odaiba with the unmanned Yurikamome line (ゆりかもめ線) – and you should actually consider a ride on that train, just for the thrill of it. The official name of the line is “Tōkyō Rinkai Shinkōtsū Rinkai-sen (東京臨海新交通臨海線) – but since that is quite a jaw crusher, everybody calls it “Yurikamome” (also the signs are marked that way). After all, the black-headed gull (“yurikamome“) is the mascot of the line.
On its way from Shimbashi (新橋/ しんばし) to Toyosu (豊洲 / とよす) also this line is crossing the “Rainbow Bridge” mentioned above.
Between Ōsaki (大崎 / おおさき) and Shin-Kiba (新木場 / しんきば) you can also take the Rinkai-Linie (りんかい線) (some of these trains have direct connection to Shibuya, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro), that also has a stop on Odaiba (but it is considerably more expensive that the public trains within the city limits).