The artificial island of Odaiba is one of the primary leisure centers in Tokyo. Originally built for defensive purposes in the mid-19th century, the island was massively redeveloped in the 1990s and has become a popular site for shopping malls, museums, and other attractions. While you can easily get there by train, a walking tour across the Rainbow Bridge offers unparalleled views of Tokyo. This Odaiba Tour will take you across the bridge and through many of the most visited spots on Odaiba, such as the Mori Digital Art Museum, the large Odaiba Gundam statue, and Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari. You can find a map of the tour here.
Beginning the Odaiba Tour
Completed in 1993, The Rainbow Bridge links the island of Odaiba to the mainland and is named for the multicolored lights that illuminate the bridge after dark. Used primarily for cars and trains, even many locals are unaware that you can cross the bridge on foot. From the southern exit of Tamachi station, begin your Odaiba Tour by following Nagisa Avenue until you reach a tower that marks the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge. After a short elevator ride, you can walk the length of the bridge, which takes approximately 30 minutes. Although, the cars zipping by can be a bit noisy, few visitors actually take the time to walk along the bridge, and there are more than a few viewing platforms. These platforms hang out over Tokyo Bay and offer an unhindered view of the city’s skyline.
Beaches and Baths
The Rainbow Bridge walking path exits at Odaiba Beach. The beach is the perfect place to relax in the summertime. Following the path that runs along the beach west, you’ll come across the Aqua City Odaiba. This is one of several malls in the area and across from it you’ll find another massive mall called DiverCity. If you’re looking for some recreations, Aqua City is adjacent to Joyopolis, an arcade/amusement park mashup that features attractions which blur the line between games and rides. On the other hand, if you’re an American and are feeling a bit homesick, a small-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty sits on the northeast shore of Aqua City.
Continue your Odaiba walk by passing south between Aqua City and the towering Hilton Hotel. This will take you onto a raised walkway, which passes by the iconic Fuji Television building. Designed by Kenzo Tenge of the futuristic Metabolist school of Japanese architecture, the building’s large titanium sphere and lattice walkways are worth a photo or two.
As you continue south, you’ll reach the grassy Western Promenade. Along this walk, you’ll find the Miraikan, a science museum full of hands-on exhibits for kids and science buffs. If you need to relax, make a right at the next thoroughfare and then a left at the first intersection. After five minutes you’ll come to Oedo-Onsen-Monogatari. This sprawling public bath complex aims to emulate the feeling of a Japanese town from the Edo period. It features indoor and outdoor baths, massages, relaxation rooms, and several options for food. To save money and avoid crowds, try to arrive early in the day.
Robots and Holograms
Once you’ve melted away all your stress, continue your Odaiba tour by walking back along the promenade. This time, stop short of Diver City. Here you’ll find the towering Gundam statue modeled on the robots from the popular anime series. The promenade continues to right, and if you follow it long enough, you’ll come to yet another mall called VenusFort. Unlike the previous two, which feature more standard decor, VenusFort is modeled on Venice. It features mock marble fountains, faux stone molding, and a ceiling painted to look like the sky. The mall is a fun visit, though visitors should prepare themselves for a spectacle that is more Vegas than Venice.
Beside Venus Fort is the Megaweb showcase of Toyota cars, which is worth a visit if you’re an automobile enthusiast. You can even ride a few cars along test tracks. If, like me, you don’t even have a driver’s license, however, you can continue through the building to the Mori Digital Art Museum. The museum hosts the holograms, digital projections, and other technological creations cooked up by the teamLab artistic collective. The museum has become a sensation in recent years, so be prepared for crowds, depending on the time of your arrival. When you’re ready to head back, consider ending your Odaiba tour by stopping off at the adjacent Giant Sky Wheel. This Ferris wheel rises up high into the sky and affords a stunning view of the city at night.
Finishing the Odaiba Tour
After the Ferris wheel, you’ll no doubt be ready to finish your Odaiba tour and get some much-needed rest. From the Ferris Wheel, the Tokyo Teleport train station is just a five-minute walk north. From here you can get a train back to the mainland and end your journey through the futuristic amusements of Odaiba.
Post by Japan Journeys.