Odaiba is a well-known entertainment and shopping district, located on an artificially constructed island within Tokyo Bay. “Daiba” is the Japanese word for “fort,” as the island itself was originally a group of four smaller fort islands, constructed slightly before the Meiji Restoration in the 1860s. Their purpose was defensive, and they were built as a result of Commodore Perry’s gunboat diplomacy.
More than 100 years later, these smaller islands were enlarged and eventually joined together using landfill. During the eighties, the aim was to convert the area into a modern business and residential area. Unfortunately, development stalled in the nineties, leaving the area almost vacant.
After 1995, however, a number of hotels and shopping malls were opened, along with the Yurikamome monorail. This led to a surge in Odaiba’s popularity. It is now a favorite dining, shopping and dating spot among Tokyo residents and tourists alike.
Despite its slow beginnings, Odaiba is now home to some of Tokyo’s most striking architecture. Examples of this include the Telecom Center, Tokyo Big Sight and the Fuji TV Building. Odaiba is also a very pleasant place to explore on foot, due to the quantity of green spaces incorporated in its planning, along with elevated walkways to keep pedestrians separate from road traffic.
Attractions in the area of the Fuji TV Building
The Fuji TV Building
Open between 10:00 and 18:00, with certain restaurants remaining open until 19:00. Closed on Mondays (or Tuesday, if Monday is a public holiday).
Fuji Television is a private, national TV station in Japan. Its futuristic-looking headquarters are located in Odaiba. The building has a popular observation deck, various exhibits on famous TV programs, and a Fuji TV shop.
Decks Tokyo Beach
Open 7 days, between 11:00 and 21:00 (restaurant closing times vary between 20:00 and 2400)
Free admission (Theme parks have a separate charge)
This shopping complex has retail stores, indoor amusement parks and restaurants. The parks include a Legoland Center, the newly-renovated Tokyo Joypolis and a retro arcade. Several of the shops are also very quirky and worth checking out: notably, the “cat goods” shop with a door resembling an enormous yawning cat. As the name suggests, Decks also has boardwalks, where you can take in great views of the water.
Open 7 days, between 11:00 and 21:00 (some restaurants stay open until 5:30)
This is another mall, directly beside Decks. It has plenty of boutiques and eateries, along with a large cinema complex. There is a ramen theme park on the fifth floor of the mall, where visitors can sample a huge variety of Japanese noodle dishes
DiverCity Tokyo Plaza
Open 7 days, between 10:00 and 21:00 (restaurants from 11:00 until 23:00)
Gundam Front Tokyo open between 10:00 and 22:00 (9:00 to 22:00 on weekends) with 1000 yen admission fee.
This complex opened in April 2012, and has a multitude of entertainment, shopping and dining options. Its featured attraction is Gundam Front Tokyo, which focuses on robots from the Gundam anime series. There is even a life-sized robot statue near the entrance to the building.
This bridge joins the man-made island of Odaiba with mainland Tokyo. It’s particularly striking when lit up at night, and is a famous symbol of Tokyo Bay. The double-storey structure supports an expressway, the railway line for the Yurikamome train, a normal road, and two pedestrian walkways.
Attractions in the area of the Telecom Center
The observation deck is open between 15:00 and 21:00 on weekdays, and between 11:00 and 21:00 on weekends or public holidays. Closed on Monday (or Tuesday, if the Monday is a public holiday).
500 yen admission fee (or 400 yen if combined with a day pass for the Yurikamome train)
This building is one of Tokyo’s main telecommunications hubs. On clear days, visitors to the observation deck can see beautiful views of Tokyo Bay and sometimes even Mount Fuji, if they are lucky.
Museum of Maritime Science
Ships currently open between 10:00 and 17:00 (18:00 on weekends). Main building closed for renewal until further notice.
Admission is free during the renovation period.
Although the musuem’s main building is closed for renovation at present, there is a smaller museum set up temporarily, which displays part of the museum’s maritime collection. Two ships are permanently docked beside the museum, and you may board and explore these for free during the museum’s renovation period.
National Museum of Emerging Science (The Miraikan)
Open between 10:00 and 17:00. Closed on Tuesday, and during the New Year period (Dec 28 – Jan 1)
600 yen admission fee
The Miraikan is a completely bilingual museum, with English text alongside everything in Japanese. Its many interactive exhibits cover the fields of IT, biology, environmental science, space exploration, and robotics.
Oedo Onsen Monogatari
Open between 11:00am and 9:00am (last admission at 7:00am)
Closed for cleaning on one evening every month.
Admission fee is 1980 yen, or 1480 yen after 18:00. An additional 200 yen is charged on weekends or holidays, and an additional 1700 yen is charged after 2:00am.
This is a theme park with a number of public baths, all filled from natural hot springs. It has outdoor and indoor options, as well as a foot bath. There are 16 restaurants to choose from, and you can stay overnight in the complex if you wish. Spa treatments, including various types of massage, are also available. Please note that individuals with tattoos are not permitted in this onsen.
Attractions within the Palette Town shopping and entertainment mall
Open daily between 11:00 and 21:00 (restaurants open until 23:00)
This shopping complex is all designed to look like an 18th century town in Europe. Amongst its columns and arches you’ll find three floors with more than 100 boutiques, restaurants and cafes. The top floor even has a selection of discount outlets.
Toyota Mega Web
Open between 11:00 and 21:00, with certain attractions closing from 18:00 onwards.
Admission free, with 300 yen charged for test rides.
This is an enormous showroom for Toyota, displaying the latest car models, as well as accessories. If you have a driver’s licence that is valid in Japan, you can test drive the cars. There is also a museum displaying past Toyota models.
Open 7 days, between 10:00 and 22:00 (usually 23:00 on Friday/Saturday)
900 yen admission fee, or 3000 yen for a whole cabin.
At 115 meters tall, this ferris wheel is easily among the largest in the world. One complete revolution lasts for approximately 15 minutes, and offers great views of Odaiba, and of course Tokyo Bay. The ferris wheel seats six to a cabin, or four to an all-glass cabin.
Open between 10:00 and 23:50 (some areas are open 24/7)
Free admission, with a charge for attractions.
This is an enormous entertainment complex. Attractions include a haunted house, bowling alleys, a game arcade, batting cages, slots, darts, karaoke and table tennis. There is also fast food available from a food court.
Attractions in the Tokyo Big Sight Area
Tokyo Big Sight
(Hours/Admission Fee dependent on each event)
Tokyo Big Sight (also called Tokyo International Exhibition Center) is the largest convention and exhibition center in Japan. The building itself is also another one of Odaiba’s striking architectural statements. Events held at Tokyo Big Sight include the Tokyo Motor Show, the Comiket fair for comics and the Tokyo International Anime Fair.
Open between 10:00 and 18:00 (Risupia museum has last entry at 17:00)
Closed on Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday is a public holiday)
This is a showroom for the Panasonic Corporation to display their newest technologies and products. Gadget fans will find all the latest Nintendo games, appliances, cameras, TVs and computers here. On the building’s third floor, there is an interactive science and maths museum, known as Risupia.
Getting to Odaiba
The Rainbow Bridge connects the island of Odaiba with the mainland. There are numerous ways to cross it, including walking. The views from the bridge of the waterfront are magnificent on a sunny day.
Traveling by Yurikamome (Elevated Monorail)
The Yurikamome runs on rubber-tired wheels along an elevated track, and travels between Shimbashi station and all of the attractions in Odaiba, terminating at Toyosu station on the Yurakucho Subway Line. The train itself is fully automated, and runs over the Rainbow Bridge for part of the journey.
A one-way trip between Shimbashi and Daiba stations lasts 15 minutes and costs 310 yen. Day passes are available for 800 yen for those intending to make multiple trips. The journey over the Rainbow Bridge offers fantastic views of the waterfront, particularly if you sit at the front of the train.
Traveling by Train
The Rinkai Line stops at the Tokyo Teleport and Kokusai Tenjijo underground stations on Odaiba. If you are coming from Shinjuku or Shibuya, some of the trains on the JR Saikyo line continue along the Rinkai line, providing a direct connection with Odaiba. The journey between Shinjuku and the Tokyo Teleport station on Odaiba lasts 25 minutes and costs 480 yen. Please note that JR passes such as the Seishun 18 Kippu and the Japan Rail Pass are not valid on the Rinkai Line, even though some JR trains use it.
Traveling by Boat
There is a Tokyo Water Bus connection between Odaiba Seaside Park and Hinode Pier. There are 1-2 boats an hour, and the trip lasts 20 minutes, costing 460 yen. Hinode Pier has further connections that travel on to Asakusa. There are also direct boats between Asakusa and Odaiba, but these run less frequently. The journey in this case lasts 50 minutes and costs 1520 yen. From Wednesday to Sunday, there are also hourly boats leaving from Hinode Pier and traveling to Palette Town and Tokyo Big Sight. This trip takes 25-35 minutes and costs 400 yen.
Traveling on Foot
Rainbow Bridge walkways open between 9:00 and 21:00 (Apr-Oct) and 10:00 and 18:00 (Nov-Mar). Closed on the 3rd Monday of the month, during the New Year period, during the Tokyo Bay Fireworks Display and also whenever there is bad weather.
In good weather, walking across the bridge is a pleasant way to enjoy the view across the water. The walk takes between 30 and 45 minutes, and bicycles are not allowed.
On the Tokyo side of the bridge, the walkway starts a short distance from Shibaura-futo Yurikamome Station. On the Odaiba side, it is nearest to Odaiba Kaihinkoen Station.
This isn’t the ideal base from which to explore the rest of Tokyo, as it is somewhat remote. However, there are some wonderful resort-style hotels here, including the Grand Pacific Le Daiba and the Hotel Nikko Tokyo. For the best views is highly recommended to visit during the evening as everything seems to light up, e.g. boats on the bay, Rainbow bridge, the ferris wheel, and of course the Tokyo skyline.