Monday 25 August 2008

Day 6 - Odaiba

The man-made island consisting of two "cities within a city" off east Tokyo bay was our destination today. This area is spacious and is a full on entertainment district. It's been built on reclaimed land. Getting to the island involves a trip on the the futuristic driver-less Yurikamome monorail from Shinbashi station. The view is something else as the train first loops (teasing you with the view) then takes you over the iconic Tokyo Bay Rainbow Bridge, akin to New Yorks Hudson Bridge.

For the architectural lover, there are many fine buildings in Odaiba from the 25 story Fuji TV build (around which is one of the "cities within a city") to the many shopping centres all trying to complete to draw in the crowds.

This is the area where Tokyoites come to play and get away from the city; but that doesn't mean no crowds, it's one busy area.

Our first stop was the worlds tallest Ferris Wheel (in 1999), the Stream of Starlight, at 115metres. It even has entire glass carriages within which you can enjoy the 16min round trip. Unfortunately it was raining and misty, so the view from the top wasn't as awesome as anticipated, but nevertheless, worth the ¥900. The wheel is located in an area called Palette town, home to the Mega Web amusement park and a very very large Italian themed shopping mall, Venus Fort; it's interior is designed to resemble an Italian city with a fake sky that changes according to the time of the day. We spent way too long in here, but it is massive.

Ten minutes away are three further entertainment and shopping malls. The first is the Decks, a nautical-themed centre, home to the Island and Seaside malls. The Joypolis Game Centre is next, a massive indoor theme park by Sega then another shopping mall, 8 stories called Aqua City. This place is shopping mall heaven! Of particular interest is the 4th floor in the Island Mall as it contains a replica of 1960s Japan, with small back alleys to get lost in :)

A replica of the Statue of Liberty is located outside the Aqua City mall, it was built in France like the original in New York, and erected in site in 2000. It's a very strange sight seeing the Statue of Liberty illuminated in front of the Rainbow Bridge! You can not help but feel you where in New York. The Tokyo Bay and it's skyline is awesome, if not better then New York. We got a great window view in an Italian restaurant to enjoy it. My pizza had teriaki chicken and seaweed topping (I didn't know about the seaweed - I had to take it off).

We rested this evening and planned/booked hotels for our weekend get away where we plan to travel to south Japan taking in three citys. More on that later!

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