Over the weekend I went to Odaiba (おだいばお or 台場) for the very first time. For many people living in Tokyo, and for many foreigners who’ve been in Japan for a while, this may not sound like such a big deal. Odaiba is a very popular hangout spot. Granted I have seen Odaiba and the surrounding area several times, but have never actually been there. All I can say is that I had an AWESOME time there. I’m pretty sure I only breached the surface of what Odaiba has to offer. There is a lot of cool history behind Odaiba that I don’t quite know everything about, but on this particular day, I focused on the cool stuff I could do there.
Here’s a list of ten things that I really liked about Odaiba. I will go into more detail about some of them in later posts, but here we go:
Rainbow Bridge has to be one of Tokyo’s most recognizable landmarks. Being that I live in Tsukuba, I don’t get to see it as often as I’d like. On a beautiful sunny day like today, seeing that bridge in the distance really gives you a sense of where you are. Standing on the Odaiba boardwalk, looking out at Rainbow Bridge across the water made me feel like “Man, I can’t believe I’m living in Japan,” even after having been here for so long. I definitely have those “marvel-at-Japan-and-drool” moments from time to time.
2.The Japanese Statue of Liberty?!
Nope, that’s not a misprint. In Odaiba stands a real-life, Statue of Liberty! Well, it’s not the actual statue of liberty, but this Japanese replica is pretty darn close. For a second I had to check my head for lumps, just make sure I didn’t bump my head and wake up on Liberty Island or something.
3. Fuji TV
I’ve seen this building from a afar several times, so I was glad to finally have the chance to see it up close. The Fuji Television building can be distinguished by the spherical structure near the top of the building.
4. The Shops
Admittedly, I am more of a window shopper than anything, but shopping is one of the things that Odaiba is famous for. There were all kinds of stores that cater to all types of people: clothing shops, trinket shops, specialty shops, restaurants, even a high-end chocolatier (Godiva)…the works. There is something about seeing people out and about that really lifts my spirits. It’s great to see people smiling, holding hands, buying things with their family and friends, and eating out with the people they love. I don’t know what it is about establishments near the water, but there’s always this laid-back, carefree, chill sort of vibe that I associate with them. The stores here have that kind of vibe and I LIKE IT!
5. Cool Summer Concerts
I happened to be strolling through Odaiba during the “United States of Odaiba” concert (that sounds just a tad “ripped off”…but from where? lol). I didn’t buy tickets to go to the event because it seemed like a J-Pop type of concert. Even though the AKB48-style, bubble-gum J-Pop isn’t really my thing…it further added to that Odaiba ambiance.
6. The Jump Shop
There’s no getting around it. I’m an anime fan. It’s never going to change. Naruto happens to be one of my favorites (despite the current “what the hell are you guys doing?,” filler episodes that are showing right now) And who makes Naruto? JUMP!! It just so happens that Jump boasts some of the most famous anime characters on the planet. I came upon this store completely by chance. It’s not as cool as the Square Enix Showcase in Tokyo or anything, but it’s cool to see neat anime merchandise all in one place.
7. The Odaiba Gundam Project 2011
I have been wanting to see the gigantic life-sized Gundam ever since I came to Japan. I think the fully assembled model stood in Shizuoka up until the last year or so. Since then, the Gundam has been taken down. I’m not exactly sure if the Odaiba Gundam is the same as the Shizuoka one. But I guess that question on the anime lover’s mind is…”Will they reconstruct it? ” I would imagine that they would. It was a popular tourist attraction in Shizuoka before, and if they did something similar in Odaiba, or anywhere in Tokyo for that matter, so many people would clamor to see it. Only time will tell, though.
8. A Larger-than-Life, “Thousand Sunny” One-Piece Pirate Ship
Was it anime day in Odaiba or something? I don’t know if this was a special, one-time deal or what, but it was SO cool. I don’t watch One-Piece all that much, but I did see the first few episodes and know who Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates are. One of the Straw Hats Pirates’ most popular ships, The Thousand Sunny, was docked in Odaiba for everyone to see and enjoy. I didn’t go on the ship because of the sheer number of people on that thing, but it looked Fantastic. I was waiting for Monkey D. Luffy to come stretching out of the boat.
9. The Sega Joypolis
Wow! That’s all there is to say about the Sega Joypolis. Please do expect to see another post about this…VERY soon. The Joypolis is an indoor amusement park created by Sega. Great fun.
10. The Crying Sky Bears
I don’t know why I liked these Sky Bears so much, but I thought they were kinda cute (in a manly way of course). I don’t know exactly what they were for but they were definitely ecology-related. Why are the bears crying? I think it because of the strain that energy consumption is putting on the planet (don’t quote me on that, though).
My ten reasons aren’t in any particular order, I enjoyed all ten of these things. If you’re in Tokyo anytime soon…I hope you’ll have a chance to go to Odaiba and enjoy them, too.