Odaiba is a man-made island connected to mainland Tokyo by the famous Rainbow Bridge. It was developed in the 1850s for military purposes, but since the end of the 1990s has been renovated into an entertainment district for people of all ages!
I arrived here from greater Tokyo on the Yurikamome automated train system, which was a little attraction in itself. Afterwards, I wished that I had taken the ferry from Asakusa to Odaiba, which would have been a nice little journey down the Sumida River, but alas I didn’t know about this option; I had only beforehand researched the train journey. Still, the train is reliable and doesn’t take too long from Shimbashi.
Tokyo is not really known for its major entertainment districts that are suitable for families. I wouldn’t expect any kids to be running around Shinjuku in the evening. So Odaiba Island provides a nice opportunity for people to get away from the mainland and get away from the congested metropolis that is Tokyo. One thing is for sure, Odaiba is very impressive from a visual perspective. I knew about the giant Gundam statue from looking at pictures beforehand (who doesn’t?), but when you up close it seems even larger than it appeared in the photos! Some of the other attractions here include the Tokyo Big Sight (a convention centre with amazing architecture), Palette Town (a huge indoor entertainment complex), the Miraikan Museum, lots of retail and food opportunities. Though, perhaps most strangely of all, I spotted a replica of the Empire State Building!
I kind of felt weird as I was not really there to experience the insanely huge Ferris wheel or sing along with the karaoke in Palette Town. I was just a mere tourist trying to explore as much of Tokyo as I could before catching the Shinkansen to Kyoto. The sun came out in the afternoon which made for a much more pleasant experience, as I had left my hotel in the morning in somewhat muggy weather. Regardless of the weather, though, one thing I learned here is that Odaiba is not just for tourists; local Japanese people come here to play and for some entertainment, and this includes the student crowd as well as families. In many ways, Odaiba is to Tokyo what Sentosa is to Singapore (minus the palm trees).
Now that Tokyo has won the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games, I am pleased to hear they are planning on using Odaiba Island for some of the sporting events, such as beach volleyball and gymnastics. It will be a fantastic place for fans of the Olympics to converge to not only watch the athletes compete, but also have enough entertainment around them to keep them satisfied before and afterwards.