We decided to take a trip out to Odaiba on a rainy Saturday.
Odaiba is a man-made island full of spas, onsens, hotels, themed restaurants, malls, and amusement parks, connected to the city by the Rainbow Bridge. One of the best parts about going to Odaiba is taking the very scenic monorail out and back again.
It's also home to the well-known National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan), which was our first stop.
We enjoyed browsing two floors of permanent exhibits, although we weren't able to get tickets to the planetarium show. However, we were happy to catch one of the biggest draws - ASIMO, a humanoid robot who can run, hop, twist, and even hula. It's impressive how stable and coordinated he is.
There are a few other robots that are supposed to push the boundaries between robot and human. The "uncanny valley" definitely exists here... a little scary!
For lunch we found ourselves in one of the several themed restaurants nearby. It felt like we were in a Mexican mine at the turn of the century. Interesting setting, good food!
The three iconic (and humorous) landmarks of Odaiba are the Statue of Liberty (mini-version of NY's), the giant Gundam, and Tokyo Big Sight's massive saw. You can't come to Odaiba without stopping by and seeing them for yourself.
Next, we decided to take a look at Deck's Tokyo Beach shopping mall. It houses Joypolis, which is a multi-level interactive electronic game center (which we still need to explore), as well as several floors of restaurants and stores. We found a shop with wrapped presents at different price points. Tim selected a 1000yen ($10) box and unwrapped... a pair of sunglasses!
Then, we stopped into the Panasonic Center and had a look at some of their newest pieces of technology, as well as their Nintendo floor. We saw the future of the modern home, which includes "smart" everything - thermostat, electricity, curtain control, door locks, and even an artificial night sky so that you can gaze at the "stars" as you fall to sleep.
And then, the thing I was most excited about... the tallest indoor waterfall in the world. At Wanza Ariake Bay Mall you'll find the Shower Tree - two tons of water falling 35 meters. Shows run at the top of each hour for 7 minutes. Maybe I amped it up a little too much in my mind. It was pretty, but really, it's just falling water.
I wish I had video footage of Odaiba by night - the buildings' neon lights and lit amusement rides glittering off of the water are quite impressive. For now, here's a haphazard train pic.
Thanks, Odaiba! There are still many things to see and we plan to return on a sunnier day!