Odaiba (お台場) 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.

Yakatabune (lavish private boats from the Heian period) docked in the bay off Odaiba Seaside Park

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 (you can still see the artillery emplacements in the park but the cannons have since been moved to Yasukuni Shrine).

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, proved so popular that a permanent 12-meter statue was installed in 2000.

Shopping is the main attraction today, and visitors are not struggling for choice. Near the waterfront there is Aqua City Odaiba and Decks Tokyo Beach, the later of which includes a Sega games arcade and Tokyo’s Madame Tussauds. A little way east you have slightly more upmarket shopping at VenusFort, an amusement complex designed in an 18th century European style, and Palette Town with one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels is located just next door.

Indoor shopping “street” in VenusFort
Odaiba, Tokyo
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Key Attractions

Aqua City Odaiba

A 6-floor shopping complex with about 80 stores and a “Gourmet Zone” food court.

Daiba Park

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).

Decks Tokyo Beach

Another shopping complex on the beachfront. It includes Tokyo Joypolis (a Sega games arcade), Legoland Discovery Center, and Madam Tussauds.
Shops 11:00-21:00 / Restaurants 11:00-23:00

MORI Building Digital Art Museum

A very popular 10,000 square meter digital art museum with light projections that change constantly through computer learning.
Closed on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month
Adults ¥3,200, children ¥1,000. Tickets must be purchased via the official website in advance

Museum of Maritime Science

Museum housed in a building modeled on the Queen Elizabeth 2 ocean liner. The Museum of Maritime Science has five sections which trace the history of sea exploration. Outside you can see an ice-breaker ship and deep ocean submarines.
10:00-17:00. Closed on Mondays unless it is a public holiday

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation

Museum that focuses on the role technology plays—and will play—in society. There are three permanent exhibitions where visitors can communicate with robots, view earth from space, and interact with the exhibits.
10:00-17:00. Closed on Tuesdays
Adults ¥630

Odaiba Seaside Park

A narrow park with a beachfront onto Tokyo Bay. In the summer evenings you may be able to see yakatabune (lavish private boats from the Heian period) floating in the bay.

Oedo Onsen Monogatari

Tokyo’s most famous onsen is undoubtedly Oedo Onsen Monogatari in Odaiba. Its attraction is a combination of easy access, a multitude of services, and Edo-style amusement arcade designed with young people and foreigners in mind.
11:00-9:00 (the next day). Open all year round
~¥2,800 yen on weekdays, ~¥3,000 on weekends. Children ~¥1,000. Discounts available after 6pm.

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.
Shops 11:00-21:00 | Restaurants 11:00-23:00 (VenusFort). Opening times of other attractions may differ

Tokyo Big Sight

Major convention and exhibition center near Odaiba. It is officially called the Tokyo International Exhibition Center and hosts numerous trade shows throughout the year, many of which are open to the general public, as well.

Tokyo Trick Art Museum

Museum of 3D optical illusions some of which are large murals into which visitors stand and pose for photographs to make themselves part of the scene. Visitors are actively encouraged to bring their cameras.
11:00-21:00 (last admission 20:30). Closing times vary so check the official website.
Adults ¥1,000 | Children ¥700 (free for children under 4)
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