Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Day 13 Part 1 - Odaiba (お台場)

Our last day in Japan! I feel sad that despite spending almost two weeks here, we have just barely covered a tiny fraction of all the things to see in this country, and even in one city. But at the same time, I am itching to get back to the comforts our home, and stop living out of a suitcase.

We checked out of the hotel in the morning, but the flight is not till late at night, so we basically have a whole day to spend in Tokyo.

We decided not to do any shopping since we have already packed out bags (well, we ended up buying quite a few items from Venus Fort - but more about that later).

So we wanted to visit a location where we can essentially spend the whole day, and leave whenever we wanted.

After doing some research, we decided to visit Odaiba (お台場). This is a huge artificial island built out of reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay. I thought the island was built using post war technology, but it turned out it was actually reclaimed in the mid 19th century for use by the the shogunate (as a fortress to protect Japan from an attack from the sea).

These days, Odaiba is a powerful symbol of modern Tokyo - with lots of ultra-modern buildings looking like they could be sets from a science fiction film. The area is full of museums, theme parks, shopping centres, hotels and luxury apartment buildings (interestingly enough called "mansions" in Japan).

We went back to Shimbashi Station (which we visited on Day 1) but this time our objective was to catch the "Yurikamome" (ゆりかもめ, named after a black headed seagull common in Tokyo Bay) - this is a popular name for the Tokyo Waterfront New Transit Waterfront Line (東京臨海新交通臨海線) - a completely automated (driver-less) elevated transit system. According to Wikipedia, the Yurikamome is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a monorail, but the trains run with "rubber-tired wheels on elevated concrete track guided by the side walls."

Inside the Yurikamome:

Leaving Shinbashi Station (新橋駅) and arriving at Shiodome Station (汐留駅):

Downtown Tokyo and the Fujitsu building with the Tokyo Tower poking up behind it:

The train passing across the Inner Circular Route (都心環状線) - which is a toll road loop around central Tokyo forming part of the Shuto Expressway :

Our first sight of the Rainbow Bridge - it was completed in the mid-90s and nearly 800m long:

Heading towards the Rainbow Bridge:

This looks like a theme park, but is actually a cement and concrete mixing plant:

Going across the Rainbow Bridge - the Yurikamome actually runs underneath the Daiba route of the Shuto Expressway:

The first Yurikamome station on Odaiba is Odaibakaihinkoen (お台場海浜公園) -literally "Odaiba beach park" - this area contains the Odaiba Towers:

This building with the Shell logo on the top has a Shell museum:

And on the other side is a large shopping centre called DECKS with a Sega Joypolis - supposedly the largest indoor amusement centre in Japan:

Grand Pacific Le Daiba (former Meridien Grand Pacific):

Hotel Nikko Tokyo:

Next stop is the Museum of Maritime Sciene (船の科学館):

The Museum of Maritime Science is actually in a building designed in the shape of a ship:

On the opposite side is the Tokyo International Exchange Center (東京国際交流館) - which contains accomodation for graduate and research students.

Next building is the Miraikan (National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation) (日本科学未来館). "Miraikan" means "Future Hall" and the full Japanese name for the museum translates to "Japan Future Science Hall":

The small building in the centre of the frame is actually the entrance to Ooedo Onsen Monogatari (大江戸温泉物語) - it's a hot spring theme park:

This large imposing inverted U shaped building is Telecom Center - it has a good observation deck:

This long L-shaped park (called the Symbol Promenade Park) is on the other side of the tracks from Telecom Center:

Advancing to Palette Town (with the big red ferris wheel):

The Fuji Television building in the background:

Aomi Station (青海駅) - "Aomi" means "blue sea" and appropriately enough there is a good view of Tokyo Bay from the station:

Views from Palette Town:

Heading away from Palette Town - this is an amazing "mansion" with Hotel Trusty Bayside at the bottom:

The tall smokestack with the mushroom next to it is the Ariake Sports Center:

The TFT Building:

The NTT Shinariake Building (NTT新有明) and Hotel Sunroute (under construction):

Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Center):

The Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel:

Next stop is Ariake Station (有明駅) - nearby attractions are the International Exhibition Center (国際展示) and the Panasonic Center (Risupia) is next to it:

 Next stop is Ariake Tennis no Mori Station (有明テニスの森), which crosses the Metropolitan Expressway Bayshore Route:

Rainbow Bridge in the distance:

Next stop is Shijomae Station (市場前駅) - this is where the Tokyo Central Wholesale Market (also known as the Tsukiji  Fish Market) is due to move to in 2012, but it's currently vacant land:

Believe it or not, this futuristic building (looking like it came out of Akira the movie) is the Shintoyosu transformer substation:

Bridge (part of Harumi Route):

The tall office buildings are part of the Harumi Island Triton Square:

The end of the line - Toyosu Station (豊洲駅):

Heading back:

Back to the Panasonic Center and the TOC Tower:

Tokyo Big Sight:

Partire Tokyo Bay Wedding Village:

The Ariake Sports Center:

Palette Town again:

Fuji Television:

Telecom Center:

Museum of Maritime Science:

Aqua Park next to the museum:

Aqua City:

Rainbow Bridge in the distance:

Fuji Television:

The Rainbow Bridge:

Heading back to Shinbashi:

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