Odaiba is an entertainment and shopping district which offers something for everyone (a small beach, restaurants, shopping malls, museums, and Tokyo’s most famous onsen). Walking around Odaiba today it would be easy to forget the history of the island. The monorail that whisks you over the bridge from the mainland, the shopping malls with decked-walkways, the immaculate beach front, and the miniature Statue of Liberty all give the area something of an artificial “Disneyland” feel.
In fact, Odaiba was developed from fortress islands built under orders from the Tokugawa shogunate to protect the city from naval attack following the arrival of Commodore Perry’s black ships in Edo Bay in 1853 (daiba means fort or battery; o is an honorific prefix). Eleven fortress islands were originally planned, but only six were completed and none were used: with the signing of the Harris Treaty in 1858, Japan opened its ports to international trade and emerged from almost 250 years of isolationism.
From the 1960s onwards four of the island forts were removed to improve shipping lanes or joined together by landfill to form the area we know today as Odaiba today. Just two remain: “Fortress 6”, which can be seen from Rainbow Bridge, and “Fortress 3”, which was opened to the public as Daiba Park in 1928.
Odaiba Seaside Park
Directions. A short walk from Daiba Station on the Yurikamome Line. Google Maps
Statue of Liberty
Originally put up as a temporary installation in 1998 to celebrate the “French Year of Japan”, the replica of the statue of liberty in Île aux Cygnes, Paris, was so popular that a permanent 12-meter statue was installed in 2000.
Directions. 5 minutes from Daiba Station | Follow the wooden walkway from Odaiba Seaside Park. Google Maps
Daiba Park might not be the most spectacular of green spaces, but it offers one of the best views of Odaiba from its slopes. It is one of the remaining island fortresses, and you can still see the artillery emplacements (the cannons can be found at Yasukuni Shrine).
Directions. 10-minute walk from Odaiba-Kaihinkoen Station on the Yurikamome Line. Google Maps
Oedo Onsen Monogatari
Tokyo’s most famous and popular onsen. While there are more traditional onsen near the capital, few have amusement arcades where you can throw ninja stars… See here for more details.
Palette Town & VenusFort
An amusement complex that contains an indoor shopping street created in an 18th century European style (VenusFort) and one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels. See here for more details.
Decks Tokyo Beach
- Directions. A short walk from Odaiba-Kaihinkoen Station on the Yurikamome Line. Google Maps
- Hours. Shops 11:00-21:00 / Restaurants 11:00-23:00
Aqua City Odaiba
- Directions. A short walk from Daiba Station on the Yurikamome Line. Google Maps
- Hours. 09:00-22:00
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