Wednesday, 16 May 2007


Today Jacob and I visited Odaiba in Tokyo. I've been to Odaiba lots before but for Jacob it was the first visit. Odaiba is a large artificial island on Tokyo Bay. More information here.

Even though Odaiba was constructed many years ago, development on the island has only taken place in the last decade. It's been well planned and all buildings and facilities are new.

Anyway, we travelled over on the underground Rinkai Line to Tokyo Teleport Station. This station is just like any other station in the area and I can't seem to work out why it has been given the name it has - it's got no relation to anything back to the future.

One of my favourite places on Odaiba is Toyota's Megaweb. It's Toyota's flagship showcase with three sections - past, present and future. It's a great place. You can even book to test drive any vehicle from the range of new Toyota's on a specialist test track. I've done the test drive before in a Toyota Camry and Prado but on this visit I didn't have my international drivers licence with me. I did however do a circuit on the E-com ride pictured below. The E-com is an automatic electric car that guides itself around a largish track. You don't have to do anything to control it, it just stops and starts by itself. Pretty magic. You can read more about it by clicking on the link above.

We then moved next door to Venus Fort. It's Japan's first themed shopping centre targeting at depicting 17th and 18th century European style streets. The ceiling changes as the day goes by to indicate sunrise, a beautiful day and then finally the sunset in the evening. There are stacks of very expensive shops here and it's all nice but the favourite and most interesting thing was the pet shop. Now the 'goods' for sale were interesting: merekats and monkeys were the best! I want a monkey! Only about NZD$3,000! Also you could rent dogs by the hour to walk around the shopping centre. It's big business dog rental in Japan. Because people can't have animals in apartments it's a favourite past-time of many to rent a dog for a couple of hours of fun on a weekend. Won't be long and you'll be able to hire kids too! :)

We also visited the headquarters of Fuji Television on Odaiba. The building is probably one of the most spectacular in the area as you can see by the photo. That ball in the middle is an observation area. We went up and the view was great. You could see around the ports and back over to Tokyo city. Below is a picture of Rainbow Bridge which we took from the ball. Rainbow Bridge is one of the many ways Odaiba is linked with Tokyo. There is a huge tunnel going under the sea too.

Japan's American influence is topped off in Odaiba with Japan's very own Statue of Liberty. It's quite dinky and I imagine is a crumb compared to the real thing in New York City.

The last interesting thing on Odaiba is the New Transit Yurikamome. The Yurikamome is a fully automated transit system, controlled entirely by computers with no drivers on board. It's a cross really between a train and monorail. What is unique is that it goes on rubber truck style tyres and there is no track. There is a kind of road way which it guides itself around. Click the link above for pictures and more information.

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