Monday, December 8, 2008


basic information
Rainbow Bridge from Odaiba


Daiba, literally meaning "fort", refers to some of the man made islands in the Bay of Tokyo, which were constructed in the end of the Edo Period (1603-1868) for the city's protection against attacks from the sea.

During the extravagant 1980s, a spectacular redevelopment of the islands into a futuristic business district was started, but development was critically slowed down after the burst of the "bubble economy" in the early 1990s.

It was not until the second half of the 1990s, that Odaiba developed into one of Tokyo's most interesting tourist spots and the highly popular shopping and entertainment district, which it is today. Further development of the area is still underway.


Among the attractions of Odaiba are several shopping and entertainment centers, theme parks, museums and the futuristic architecture and city planning. Even access to Odaiba can be considered an attraction (see "How to get there").

Fuji TV Building
This is the headquarters of Fuji Television, one of Japan's private, nationwide TV stations. You can see some exhibitions on popular programs, buy Fuji TV goods at the souvenir shop and access the futuristic looking building's observatory deck.
Open 10:00 to 20:00. Most attractions are closed on Mondays (closed the following Tuesday instead, if Monday falls on a public holiday). Admission is free except for the observatory deck (500 yen).
Decks Tokyo Beach
Decks is a shopping mall featuring various stores, boutiques, cafes, restaurants, the food theme park "Daiba Little Hong Kong" and "Tokyo Joypolis", three floors packed with the newest arcade games and more.
Open daily 11:00 to 21:00 (some stores and restaurants remain open until 22:00 or 23:00). Admission is free, except to Tokyo Joypolis (500 yen).
Aquacity Odaiba
Aquacity is a shopping mall featuring various stores, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and a 13 screen cinema complex. There are nice views of the Rainbow Bridge from the wooden deck in front of Aquacity and neighboring Decks.
Open daily 11:00 to 21:00 (food court until 21:00, restaurants open until 23:00 or later).
Museum of Maritime Science
Housed in a cruise ship shaped building, the Museum of Maritime Science displays seafaring related exhibits from the past and future. Two actual ships, including the Yotei Maru ocean liner, are moored in front of the museum.
Open daily 10:00 to 17:00 (weekends and holidays until 18:00). Closed Mondays and from Dec 28 to Jan 1. Museum admission: 700 yen. Combined admission to the museum and Yotei Maru is 1000 yen.
National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation
This well done, highly interactive and bilingual science museum includes exhibits about environmental issues, robots (starring Asimo among others), information technology, biology and space exploration.
Open daily 10:00 to 17:00. Closed Tuesdays and from Dec 28 to Jan 1 (Open Tuesdays during the summer holidays or if Tuesday is a public holiday). Admission: 500 yen.
Telecom Center
The Telecom Center is a major hub on the information highway with several large satellite antennas on its observation deck. The observation deck also offers nice view of the bay area and as far as Mount Fuji on clear days.
The observation deck is open from 15:00 to 21:00 (Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 11:00 to 22:30). Closed Mondays (closed on Tuesday instead if Monday is a public holiday). Admission is 500 yen (400 yen in combination with a Yurikamome day pass).
Oedo Onsen Monogatari
Opened in March 2003, this is a hot spring theme park, which reproduces the atmosphere of the Edo Period (1603-1868). You can enjoy various types of baths, which are fed by actual hot spring water from a depth of 1400 meters.
Open daily from 11am to 9am (no entry between 2am and 5am, last entry 7am). Admission is 2827 yen (1987 yen if you enter after 6pm). An overnight stay supplement of 1,575 yen applies if you stay after 2am. If you enter between 5am and 7am, the admission is 1,567 Yen. Once a month Oedo onsen closes early at 11pm for maintenance (admission until 9pm).
Palette Town
This shopping and entertainment complex consists of Venus Fort, Sun Walk, Mega Web, a Ferris Wheel and Zepp Tokyo, a large concert venue. See more details on each attraction below.
Open daily. Most shops and attractions are open from 11:00 to 21:00 and restaurants until 23:00.
Venus Fort
Part of Palette Town, Venus Fort is a shopping mall in the style of a 18th century South European town. It features more than one hundred boutiques, shops, cafes and restaurants, targeting a mainly female audience.
Shops are open daily 11:00 to 21:00. Restaurants until 23:00.
Venus Fort Family
Previously called Sun Walk, Venus Fort Family is another shopping mall on the floor below Venus Town. It consists of a relatively small number of spacious stores specializing in interior, sports, kids, pets and books.
Shops are open daily 11:00 to 21:00. Restaurants until 23:00.
Mega Web
Part of Palette Town, Mega Web is a Toyota showroom, where you can view and touch Toyota's newest models and car accessories, test drive a real car ("Ride One") or ride an automatic, electric vehicle ("E-com Ride"). Historic cars are exhibited in the "History Garage".
Toyota City Showcase and History Garage open 11:00 to 21:00. Universal Design Showcase open until 19:00. "Ride One", "E-com Ride" and "Kid's Hybrid Ride One" until 20:00 ("Kid's Hybrid Ride One open until 18:00 on weekdays"). There are occasional closing days. Admission is free, except for "Ride One" (300 Yen per ride) and "E-com Ride" (200 Yen per ride). A Japanese or recognized international driving permit is required for "Ride One" drivers.
Ferris Wheel
Part of Palette Town, this 115 meter tall ferris wheel is one of the world's largest and offers nice views of the bay area.
Operating daily from 10:00 to 22:00 (until 24:00 on Fridays, Saturdays, and days preceding holidays during the spring and summer season. Admission: 900 Yen.
Panasonic Center
The Panasonic Center is a showroom for the latest products and technologies by the Matsushita Group, of which Panasonic is part of. On display are the newest cameras, TV screens, computers, Nintendo games, home appliances and more.
Open 10:00 to 18:00 (entry to Risupia until 17:00). Closed on Mondays, except if Monday is a public holiday. Admission is free except Risupia (500 yen). Entry to Risupia is by numbered ticket which are limited during times of high visitation.
Tokyo Big Sight
Also known as Tokyo International Exhibition Center, Tokyo Big Sight is Japan's largest exhibition and convention center and one of the bay islands' boldest architectural creations. A wide array of events are held at the Big Sight throughout the year.
Hours and admission fees depend on the specific events.
Public Parks
Most of Odaiba's attractions are connected with each other by pleasant, broad pedestrian walks and parks. Among the more noteworthy parks is the Odaiba Kaihin Park near the Rainbow Bridge. It includes a man made sand beach.

Any advice or questions? Voice them in the forum!

how to get there

Access to Odaiba can be an attraction by itself, as the views of the Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo's harbor and waterfront area from the Yurikamome elevated train or boat are quite spectacular.

By Yurikamome

The Yurikamome is an un-manned, elevated train with rubber tires, which connects Shimbashi Station on the JR Yamanote Line with all of Odaiba's attractions and Toyosu Station on the Yurakucho Subway Line. A ride from Shimbashi to Daiba takes 15 minutes and costs 310 yen. If you ride the Yurikamome more than twice, a one day pass for 800 yen is likely to come cheaper than single tickets.

The Yurikamome uses the Rainbow Bridge to get to Odaiba and offers spectacular views of the harbor and the Tokyo waterfront area. Sit or stand at the very front of the train for the most impressive views.

By Boat

Tokyo Water Cruise, also known as Suijo Bus, operates frequent boats between Hinode Pier and Odaiba Seaside Park from 10:00 to 17:45 (until 17:15 on weekdays). The 20 minute boat ride costs 460 yen and offers nice views of the Rainbow Bridge and waterfront area.

There are also boats between Hinode Pier and Palette Town and Tokyo Big Sight (25-35 minutes, 400 yen), as well as a small number of direct trips from Asakusa to Odaiba (1 hour, 1,520 yen), two hourly connections between Hinode Pier and Asakusa (40 minutes, 760 yen, via Hama Rikyu) and infrequent service from Hinode Pier to the Maritime Museum (25 minutes, 400 yen).

By Rinkai Line

This is an underground railway line, which connects Osaki Station on the JR Yamanote Line with Shin-Kiba Station on the JR Keiyo Line. Some trains on the JR Saikyo Line continue to run on the Rinkai Line and provide direct connections between Shibuya, Shinjuku and Odaiba.

The ride from Shinjuku to Tokyo Teleport Station on Odaiba takes 25 minutes and costs 480 yen. Note that the Japan Rail Pass, Seishun 18 Kippu and similar JR tickets are not valid on the Rinkai Line between Osaki and Shin-Kiba, even though the line is served by JR trains.

On Foot

It is possible to cross the Rainbow Bridge on foot. The walk across takes about 30 minutes and offers nice views of the waterfront area. To access the bridge, get off at Shibaura-futo Station on the Yurikamome.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


basic information

Shibuya is one of the twenty-three city wards of Tokyo, but often refers to just the popular shopping and entertainment area around Shibuya Station.

Shibuya is one of Tokyo's most colorful and busy districts and birthplace to many of Japan's fashion and entertainment trends. Most of the area's large department and fashion stores belong to either Tokyu or Seibu, two competing corporations.

A prominent landmark of Shibuya is the large intersection in front of the station (Hachiko Exit), which is heavily decorated by neon advertisements and giant video screens and gets crossed by amazingly large crowds of pedestrians each time the traffic light turns green.

Below is a map and list of some of Shibuya's other major attractions:

Points of Interest:

Hachiko Statue
A statue of a loyal dog named Hachiko. According to a famous story, the dog waited for his master every day in front of Shibuya Station, and continued to do so for years even after his master had passed away. It is one of Tokyo's most popular meeting points.
Tobacco and Salt Museum
Introducing the history of tobacco and salt in Japan and throughout the world. Information in English is limited. The museum is operated by Japan Tobacco (JT), whose predecessor used to monopolize the production and sale of tobacco and salt in Japan.
Open daily 10:00 to 18:00. Closed Mondays and from December 29 to January 3 (if Monday is a national holiday the museum is open Monday and closed the following Tuesday). Admission: 100 yen.
Electric Power Museum (Denryokukan)
This museum by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) introduces various aspects of electric energy, such as the process of power generation and the role of electricity in society and everyday life. Information in English is limited.
Open daily 10:00 to 18:00. Closed Wednesdays and New Year's Holidays (if Wednesday is a national holiday, the museum is open Wednesday and closed the following Thursday). Admission: free.
NHK Studiopark
NHK Studiopark is a part of the NHK Broadcasting Center, which is open to the public. It gives visitors a chance to look behind the scenes of television broadcasting, including the production of a live program on most days.
Open daily 10:00 to 18:00. Closed on the third Monday of each month, except in August and December. If the third Monday is a national holiday then the Studiopark is open that Monday and instead closed the following Tuesday. Closed from December 25-31. Admission: 200 yen.
National Yoyogi Stadium
Built for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics by renowned architect Tange Kenzo, the stadium hosted the olympic swimming competitions. It is now also being used for ice skating and volleyball competitions, concerts and various other events.
Love Hotel Hill
This area of Shibuya has a high concentration of love hotels, which offer couples a private room for a 2-3 hour "rest" during the day (usually around 5000 Yen) or an overnight "stay" (usually around 10000 Yen).
Located directly next to the Tokyu department store (main store), Bunkamura, lit. "culture village", consists of a concert hall, a theater, two cinemas, a museum with constantly changing exhibitions, and a few shops and restaurants.

Famous Streets:

Center Gai
The birthplace of many Japanese fashion trends, Center Gai is a busy pedestrian zone lined by stores, boutiques, game centers, night clubs and restaurants.
Koen Dori
Koen Dori, lit. "Park Street", is a popular shopping street leading from the Marui department store to Yoyogi Park. It was named after Parco department store (parco is Italian for park) and the fact that the street leads to Yoyogi Park.
Spain Slope
Spain Slope (Supeinzaka) is a narrow, approximately 100 meter long pedestrian street with stairs leading up the slope to the Parco department store. It is lined by boutiques, cafes and restaurants, and was nicknamed for resembling a Spanish street scene.

Tokyu Affiliated Shopping:

There are two Tokyu department stores in Shibuya: the main store with ten floors is located a 5-10 minute walk northwest of the station, while the Shibuya Station branch with twelve floors sits on top of the station.
Main store open daily 11:00 to 20:00 (upper floors until 19:00, restaurants until 22:30). Shibuya Station store open daily 10:00 to 21:00 (Sundays and holidays until 20:00, restaurants until 22:30).
Shibuya 109
Shibuya 109 is a trend setting fashion complex for young women with more than one hundred boutiques on ten floors. Usually pronounced "Shibuya ichi maru kyu", the complex's name can also be read as "Shibuya to kyu", identifying the complex as part of the Tokyu Group.
Open daily 10:00 to 21:00 (restaurants from 11:00 to 22:30). Closed New Year's Day.
Shibuya Mark City
Shibuya Mark City is a small city within the city, located just next to JR Shibuya Station. It consists of a wide range of stores and restaurants, the Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu, office space, a bus terminal and the terminal station of the Keio Inokashira Line.
Opening hours vary by shop. Most open daily 10:00 to 21:00. Restaurants open daily 11:00 to 23:00.
Tokyu Hands
Promoted as "Creative Life Store", Tokyu Hands has everything from do-it-yourself, interior, hobby, crafts, outdoors to stationery and more. The Shibuya store spans eight floors.
Open daily from 10:00 to 20:30.

Seibu Affiliated Shopping:

The Shibuya branch of the Seibu department store chain consists of nine floors, featuring mainly fashion goods and some fashion boutiques. Restaurants can be found on the top and bottom floors.
Open daily 10:00 to 20:00 (Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays until 21:00). Occasional closing days.
Loft is Seibu's answer to Tokyu Hands, also offering a large array of products related to interior, hobby, crafts and gifts, but with a slightly less strong emphasis on do-it-yourself. The Loft Shibuya branch consists of seven floors.
Open daily from 10:00 to 21:00 (until 20:00 on Sundays and public holidays). Occasional closing days.
Parco is a shopping complex with an emphasis on fashion. The complex consists of numerous buildings in the Shibuya area: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Quattro, Zero Gate and more.
Open daily 10:00 to 21:00 (from 11:00 in case of some annex buildings). Restaurants open 11:00 to midnight. Occasional closing days.

Any advice or questions? Voice them in the forum!

how to get there

Shibuya Station is one of Tokyo's busiest stations. You can get there by JR Yamanote Line, JR Saikyo Line, JR Shonan Shinjuku Line, Hanzomon Subway Line, Ginza Subway Line, Tokyu Toyoko Line, Tokyu Den-Entoshi Line and Keio Inokashira Line.

Orientation in Tokyo

Saturday, December 6, 2008


basic information

Roppongi (六本木, lit. "six trees") is a district in the Minato City Ward of Tokyo, famous for its nightlife and two new, large building complexes, Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown. It has also gained a name as a cultural center thanks to the presence of several art museums.

Roppongi Crossing in the district's center

The area around Roppongi Station is Tokyo's most popular nightlife district among foreigners, offering a large number of foreigner friendly bars, restaurants and night clubs. Roppongi and the surrounding districts of Azabu, Hiroo and Akasaka are home to many embassies and a large expat community.

Two major redevelopment projects have recently given Roppongi a new face: Roppongi Hills with its 238m tall Mori Tower and Tokyo Midtown with its 248m tall Midtown Tower. Each complex consists of elegant retail, leisure and residential space, offices, a luxury hotel and art museum.

Another recent addition to Roppongi is the National Art Center, Japan's largest art museum. Together with the Mori Art Museum in Roppongi Hills and the Suntory Museum of Art in Tokyo Midtown, it forms the "Art Triangle Roppongi" and has put the district onto Tokyo's cultural map.

Roppongi Hills:

A city within the city, Roppongi Hills is an attractively redeveloped neighborhood consisting of residential, recreational and office space, the Mori Art Museum, a cinema complex, various shops and restaurants, and the Grand Hyatt Tokyo hotel.

Roppongi Hills was opened in spring 2003 and has become a symbol of the Japanese IT industry, housing offices of many leading IT companies, including Rakuten, Livedoor and Yahoo Japan.

Mori Tower
A 54-storey skyscraper, named after the man and company that built it. The first six floors are occupied by shops and restaurants, while the top six floors house an art museum and observation deck (see below). Offices fill the 43 floors in between.
Tokyo City View & Mori Art Museum
On the top floors of the Mori Tower are the Mori Art Museum, a contemporary art museum with changing exhibitions, and the Tokyo City View indoor observation deck with the newly added open-air Sky Deck on the building's roof.
Tokyo City View is open daily 10:00 to 23:00 (until 1:00 on Fridays and Saturdays), while the Sky Deck is open in good weather only from 10:00 to 19:00. Admission: 1500 Yen. The Mori Art Museum is open daily 10:00 to 22:00 (until 17:00 on Tuesdays). The admission fee for the museum varies by exhibition.
Roppongi Hills Shopping and Dining
Roppongi Hills features more than 200 shops, cafes and restaurants. Most shops specialize in fashion, accessories, interior design and household goods, while restaurants offer a wide array of Japanese and international cuisine.
Most shops are open daily from 11:00 to 21:00. Restaurants are typically open from 11:00 to 23:00.
TV Asahi Headquarters
The headquarters of TV Asahi, one of Japan's private, nationwide TV stations, is part of the Roppongi Hill complex. The spacious atrium is open to the public and features displays of current programs and a shop selling TV Asahi related goods.
The TV Asahi Shop is open daily from 10:00 to 19:00.
Mori Garden
A small oasis of greenery between the tall buildings of Roppongi Hills, the Mori Garden is built in the style of a traditional Japanese landscape garden.

Tokyo Midtown:

Four years after Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown was opened to the public in spring 2007. Like Roppongi Hills, Tokyo Midtown consists of residential, recreational and office space, an art museum, various shops, restaurants, cafes and a luxury hotel, the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo.

Midtown Tower
The Midtown Tower is with 248 meters Tokyo's tallest building. Offices occupy most of its floors, except the top floors which make up the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo hotel and the lower floors which feature conference space and a medical center.
Galleria and Suntory Museum of Art
The Galleria features a variety of elegant shops and restaurants, including a 24 hour supermarket. Furthermore, the Suntory Museum of Art was moved here, exhibiting art from various periods, places and cultures.
Most shops are open daily from 11:00 to 21:00. Restaurants are typically open from 11:00 to 23:00. The Suntory Museum of Art is open from 10:00 to 18:00 (until 20:00 from Wednesday to Saturday), but closed on Tuesdays (except when a public holiday falls on a Tuesday, in which case the museum is closed the following day), January 1 and when a new exhibition is being prepared. The admission fee for the museum varies by exhibition.
Hinokicho Park
Hinokicho Park, a Japanese style garden, is located on the former site of a feudal lord's villa. Next to it, the Midtown Garden offers even more green space, making Tokyo Midtown one of the greenest city redevelopments in the capital.

Other Attractions:

Roppongi Nightlife
Roppongi has been a popular nightlife district among foreigners for decades. Unlike other entertainment districts in Tokyo, it offers many restaurants, bars and clubs, which are easily accessible for foreigners or even cater specifically to the foreign community.

National Art Center Tokyo
Opened in early 2007, the National Art Center Tokyo (Kokuritsu Shin-Bijutsukan) is Japan's largest art museum. The museum maintains no permanent collection, but rather provides a venue for various, temporary exhibitions.
Open daily 10:00 to 18:00 (Fridays 10:00 to 20:00), but closed on Tuesdays (except when a public holiday falls on a Tuesday, in which case the museum is closed the following day) and from December 25 to January 8. The admission fee varies by exhibition.