Prepare to be hit by the 22nd century! With space age buildings, electric cars and fantasy shopping malls, Tokyo’s newest district is futuristic and surreal. Built on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay, a monorail links Odaiba to the mainland. Watch out too for the silent couples. As the site of the world’s largest Ferris wheel, it’s also a popular, if not compulsory, dating spot.
The Yurikamome Monorail
The Yurikamome New Transit Monorail runs between Shimbashi Station (JR Yamanote Line) and Ariake, a large tennis arena. For the price of the cheapest ticket, it’s possible to go all the way to Ariake, sit on the train and then come back again.
En route there are some great views of the city. Look out for Tokyo Tower, the Hama- Rikyu Sunken Garden, the Nakajin Capsule Apartment Building, Rainbow Bridge, the Fuji Television Building, the Pallette Town Ferris wheel and Tokyo Big Sight Conference Centre.
The Fuji Television Building (Nearest monorail station: Odaiba-kaihinkoen)
Lit by lasers at night, the head office of Fuji Television is the landmark of Odaiba. The building was designed by Japanese Architect, Kenzo Tange. It’s fully earthquake proof and took three years to build.
The ball on top of the building weighs a colossal one thousand two hundred tons! With a diameter of thirty two meters it was first constructed on the roof of the smaller building, then on April 17th 1995, using a special technique it was raised into position.
Inside there are ten studios. Tickets for a studio tour are available from the booth at the top of the escalator. The same ticket also gains you access to the inside of the ball. (Adults 500 yen, children 300 yen 10:00 am to 8:00pm daily).
Decks and Aqua City, both shopping malls, are close to Fuji Television. From the promenade that runs along the front, there’s a fantastic view of Tokyo’s skyline.
Little Hong KongOn the sixth and seventh floors of the Decks shopping mall is “Little Hong Kong” – a reproduction of a Hongkong street. It has many Chinese restaurants and souvenir shops. The restaurants can get very crowded on the weekends, better to go during the week if possible.
Pallete Town (Nearest monorail station: Odaiba-kaihinkoen or Aomi)
The world’s biggest Ferris wheel is one hundred and fifteen meters high and you’ll find it in Pallette Town. It turns everyday from 10:00am to 10:00 pm, each gondola holds six people and one sixteen minute revolution costs nine hundred yen per person.
Toyota Mega Web is a gigantic car showroom featuring cars of the past as well as the future. It’s divided into zones. In “Toyota City Showcase” it’s your chance to test drive various prototype models – you can book a test drive on the Tokyo Mega web site. Inside the “History Garage” you’ll find vehicles from the 1950′s to 1970′s, while “Future World” emphasizes technology for road safety. Admission is free, but each attraction has a small cover charge. Open: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm daily. Tel 0070 800 489 000.
Venus Fort Theme Park for Ladies is truly extraordinary. Step inside this shopping mall and can you believe it – with its mock fountains, balconies, plazas, and restaurants and chapels with painted ceilings – you’re in Italy? Well, that’s the idea, but short only of Widow Twanky twirling out of her petticoats you’ll find it more like shopping on the set of a pantomime. Seeing is believing; it’s open 11:00am to 10:00pm daily.
How to get to Odaiba
The entrance to the Yurikamome monorail is close to the Ginza exit of Shimbashi Station (JR Yamanote Line). It’s indicated by signposts but not very clearly – look for the sign with the seagull on it (“(yuri)kamome” means “seagull”).
River commuter/sea bus:
The River Commuter/sea bus runs between Odaiba and Hinode Pier (400 yen, duration 20 minutes) and between Odaiba and Asakusa (1,060 yen, duration 55 minutes.). Hours: 9:50am to 6:00 pm daily. Tel 03 3272 8600