Read my updated guide to Odaiba here.
Every expat will agree that hosting friends and family is no joke. You have to think of things to do and places to see during their stay and when they are visiting for a limited time you have to make sure you don’t waste their precious vacation time. As I learned a few weeks ago, this might also involve sightseeing even when a typhoon is hitting the city. Okay, this is a bit overkill for many, but hey, it’s all about being creative. When life hands you lemons you make a lemonade! So what do you do when a rain (or in our case, a typhoon) is hitting Tokyo, but you still want to go out and enjoy vacation day with your visiting friends? Apparently Odaiba is a perfect solution! This artificial futuristic island in Tokyo Bay blows away with its stunning architecture and an array of amusements, parks, museums, shops and restaurants. Admittedly, I would never have left the house (or my bed for that matter) that day, but we ended up having an absolute blast due to one of the best indoor entertainment complexes in town. Here’s my list of the best things to do in Odaiba.
Miraikan, or National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.
This place will impress not just nerds, but even those who have minimal grasp of science (talking about myself here). Mind-boggling interactive exhibits will definitely keep you entertained for a few hours. Make sure to stop by the third floor of the museum to meet the most famous intelligent robot in the world, ASIMO. It was amazing to see him talk, dance, and even play football. We also saw an android, which (who?) honestly freaked us out – they look so real!
DiverCity Tokyo Plaza
Fancy meeting the biggest robot in Tokyo? You’ll be in for a treat as a “life sized” Gundam statue stands in front of this sprawling shopping complex. It truly is a great place to shop with every brand present on the market having an outpost here. It’s also a great place to buy some souvenirs and grab a bite at one of the numerous restaurants.
Hello Kitty Café
Speaking of food, we couldn’t have left without visiting Hello Kitty at her cute café. As hard as it might be to believe, unlike Hong Kong and Singapore, it is pretty hard to find a Hello Kitty themed café in Tokyo. In fact, Café de Miki is the only one (to the best of my knowledge). We thoroughly enjoyed our themed coffee and fruit and chocolate pancakes in the presence of the adorable characters. Cute decorations just add to the whimsical environment. Read my full review here.
Vintage Arcade inside Decks Tokyo Beach
We literally felt like traveling back in time at this little vintage arcade I found on the fourth floor of Decks. The place is stuffed with numerous retro arcade machines and it truly is a great place to unwind and remember good ol’ times.
Trick Art Museum inside Decks
I don’t think I have laughed so much anywhere else. 3D art in this museum was quite impressive and we had a fantastic time pretending we were falling into a shark’s jaw, attacked by the ghosts, trapped inside the glass and what not.
Thankfully it stopped raining and sky started to clear up as the sun was setting. It allowed us to take a stroll along the wooden deck and enjoy one of the most iconic views of the Tokyo Bay with beautifully illuminated Rainbow Bridge and Statue of Liberty.
The truth is there is much more to do and see in Odaiba, but our goal was to take time, relax and have fun versus to tick things off the list, so we left quite content with what we saw and did. If I had to return, though, I’d consider visiting Fuji TV Building to access the sphere-shaped observatory and some of the periodic exhibitions held there; Panasonic Center and Sony ExploraScience for allegedly insanely cool interactive exhibits and displays of state-of-the-art technologies; Palette Town for the Ferris Wheel (modeled after London Eye), Toyota Mega Web (they allow to test drive the cars!), Venus Fort (shopping mall which looks very much like The Venetian in Las Vegas); and highly-praised Oedo Onsen Monogatari, an Edo-era themed onsen (hot springs).
In a nutshell, there is something for everyone and if time permits or weather leaves you no other choice, you and your family/friends are guaranteed to have a fun-filled day in Odaiba. Below is a little map from Japan Guide to help you find your way around the island.
Have you been? What was your favorite thing to do? I’d love to know!
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