Odaiba – Tokyo's very own man-made land
A product of preventive measures from sea attacks in the past, Odaiba has become one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist sites at present.
Just forty-minutes away by train from Shinjuku Station sits Tokyo’s very own man-made island, Odaiba. With its futuristic set-up and waterfront that lets everyone have an amazing view of the sea, it is unsurprising how it has become one of Tokyo’s famous tourist spots.
Getting to the island itself is quite easy as it is accessible from any major station in Tokyo. The best method of transport would be to take the train. From Shinjuku Station, it costs about ¥500-¥600 for a single trip if you take the Oedo line and then transfer to the Yurikamome line for a direct stop at Daiba Station.
I had the pleasure of spending a day here during my first visit to Japan early January of 2019. Winter season had been at its peak, and as someone who came from a remotely tropical country, fighting off the cold was very difficult for me. The proximity to the sea also made it very windy. However, the weather could not have been any better. Despite the cold and strong wind, the sun was bright and I had a wonderful view of Tokyo's seaside.
A Brief History
Quite the contrary to its purpose now, Odaiba was actually originally constructed during the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868) as a preventive measure from sea-based attacks. The island is comprised of a set of fort islands.
In fact, the word daiba (台場) actually translates to "fort" in English. After centuries, these small forts join together to become one big island. It wasn’t until the late 1900s when shopping malls and hotels began opening, slowly turning the district into a tourist hub.
Stop and Take a Picture!
There are a lot of entertainment spots for tourists looking to visit Odaiba. The area is known for housing Tokyo’s very own replica of the Statue of Liberty. This is a great photo spot as it is located right in front of the sea with the famous Rainbow Bridge as its backdrop.
Although designed as an exact replica, this statue is much smaller than the real one in New York. Back in 1998, this version of the statue was relocated to Japan from France to commemorate the Franco-Japanese ties for a year. Two years later, due to its popularity among locals, it was decided that a new replica would be built and permanently housed in the district.
Prior to coming here, I didn't know such a thing existed. It was quite amusing to see such a famous statue in the States in Tokyo. I got a perfect view of the statue while walking along the boardwalk in front of AquaCity.
I must say that it provides a perfect illusion to those wanting to trick anyone into thinking they are in the Big Apple instead of Japan!
For fans of the Gundam science-fiction series by Yoshiyiku Tomino, a 19.7 meter statue of the robot is located right in front of Odaiba’s DiverCity. Seeing it firsthand, I would say that this statue is very gigantic. The statue actually "transforms" four times a day during specific hours. In those times, the statue’s armor plates shift during this short performance. Following the sunset, the sight gets even better at night as the statue lights up.
Unfortunately, I was not able to witness the statue in action as I visited during the day. However, seeing it alone was already quite impressive. It definitely looked like something out of a movie and it was way bigger than I expected.
An Abundance of Entertainment Spots
There are also several shopping outlets in Odaiba easily accessible for visitors. Right next to the entrance of Daiba Station is AquaCity. An alternative option would be Odaiba’s DiverCity, the mall located right behind the Gundam statue.
I had visited both malls and would say that they are both foreigner friendly for travelers visiting Japan for the first time. They have a vast selection of restaurants to choose from, including fast food chains like Wendy’s, and many international stores to visit.
So if you're looking to get out of the sun or the cold for a while, these places are very convenient to go to! I myself spent quite a while inside for lunch and to shop, as the wind had been very strong outside.
Visitors looking to spend time outdoors and enjoy the view may take a walk in Symbol Promenade Park or stroll by Odaiba Beach, or even go on a short ferry ride under the rainbow bridge provided near the beach (unfortunately, I was not able to go on the ferry ride due to other plans).
I took the chance to stroll around Symbol Promenade Park and took some pictures as well. It was very refreshing! The area is very open and clean as well.
Taking into account these kinds of activities, I think it would be best to take note of the weather during your planned visit. From experience, a sunny day is the best kind of day to visit Odaiba. The place is very photogenic and has many outdoor activities to choose from, so be sure to check the weather forecast prior to your visit!
Admittedly, unlike places like Harajuku and Shibuya which prestige have garnered them international recognition and popularity that almost every visiting tourist in Japan knows about them, I have not heard of Odaiba prior to my trip to Tokyo in January of last year. Hence, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted upon my first visit.
I’ve come to find Odaiba’s charms lie in its open and scenic sights, with the smell of saltwater due to its proximity to the sea making the air very refreshing to breathe in. There are still many sights and attractions I have yet to see.
It is truly a place I would like to visit again, if ever I have the chance.
Hi! I'm Amara Zahra, otherwise known as Mara, currently residing in Japan for my undergraduate studies. Writing and traveling are things I really enjoy doing so I'm looking forward to sharing my experiences here!
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