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Rainbow Bridge May 31, 2011

Posted by Dru in Japan, Kanto, Tokyo, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s  Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Rainbow Bridge” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-Gc

 

Rainbow Bridge is one of the most famous, if not the most famous bridge in Tokyo.  It has been used as a backdrop along with Tokyo Tower to define Tokyo.  It is a famous backdrop in the summer for the Tokyo Bay Fireworks festival as well as one of the easiest ways to access Odaiba.  The bridge itself is 798 metres long with a main span of 580 metres.  It is a main artery that has been painted white.  At night, the bridge is often lit up in various colours.  It is often lit in a rainbow of colours to highlight the bridge’s popular name, but it has been lit up for other special occasions such as pink for breast cancer awareness or other similar events.  While the official name of Rainbow Bridge is quite boring, city officials took the nickname, Rainbow Bridge, and ran with it.  On most nights, the bridge is lit up naturally so that the the white paint stands out against the traditional backdrop of black and grey buildings.

As with any bridge, there are only two ways to access the bridge itself, the Odaiba and the Shibaura side.  I would recommend the Shibaura side as there is an elevator to access the promenade which makes the walk a lot easier.  On the Shibaura side, you can access Rainbow Bridge from either Shibaurafuto Station on the Yurikamome Line or Tamachi and Mita Stations on the JR and Toei lines.  From Tamachi and Mita, it is a bit of a walk to Rainbow Bridge but it is a nice relaxing walk through some new residential areas.  The area around the bridge itself is not special.  It is a port area with nothing more than large trucks driving everywhere.  It can be a little dangerous at times to cross the street as trucks speed through the area.  It isn’t too bad as traffic isn’t too heavy and there are large gaps between cars.  Upon entry to the main anchor on the Shibaura side, you will be treated to a more touristy setting.  While there are no people to give you information on the bridge itself, there is a small display and information signs telling you where to go.  The elevator is not very quick journey as the main deck is located 7 stories up.

The bridge deck has two promenades.  There is the north and south side but you must make your decision before you head up from the bottom of the Shibaura anchor.  I ventured on the south where all the traffic was heading towards Shibaura.  The views on this side were nice but probably better on the north side.  You can get a view of Kawasaki and Odaiba from the south, and views of Tokyo Tower and central Tokyo from the north.  On the south side, it can get a bit boring as all you see are container ships and the sparsely populated Odaiba region but the photos can be amazing.  The first thing you will notice will be the wind.  The second you walk outside the anchor you are hit by the wind.  If you have ever walked across a bridge you will know what I’m talking about.  Most bridges over a body of water are subject to higher winds.  It was a bit daunting on the day that I visited Rainbow Bridge.  It was a constant barrage of wind that kept me from walking smoothly.  The second thing you will notice is the vibrations.  Being a double decked bridge with 8 lanes of traffic and a rapid transit line, it is hard to walk along the bridge without feeling the constant rumble of cars.  If you are in a car at the time you won’t notice it as much as the car’s suspension does a good job at creating a smooth ride, but when you walk along the bridge, you will get a mild sensation that a small earthquake is occurring.  The first tower is fairly close to the Shibaura anchor.  Each tower forces the promenade to go on the outside of the tower itself.  This provides a better view of the surrounding area.  Unfortunately, there is a fence that runs the entire span of the bridge.  Thankfully they cut holes into a fence around the towers so you can take photos.  At all other points along the bridge you have to take photos through the safety fence.  The fence serves two purposes.  One is to keep people from being blown off the bridge itself, and the other is to prevent suicides.  In Japan, that is understandable.

The midpoint of the bridge is not spectacular but there are signs to inform you that you are at the midpoint.  There are signs on the floor that tell you which direction you need to go to reach either Odaiba or Shibaura.  There is also an information sign on the wall to inform you exacatly where you are.  It is an interesting place as it is a small section that is neither Odaiba nor Shibaura.  You are in a “no man’s land” between cities.  Other than that, it is no different than any other section of the bridge.  It is noisy, windy, and shaky.  From that point on, things are relatively easy.  The Odaiba tower is almost a mirror of the tower on the Shibaura side.  The anchor on the Odaiba side has an elevator but you cannot use it.  The anchor on the Odaiba side is for maintenance workers only as the anchor is on an island.  There is no access to the main island from the Odaiba anchor.

The approach to the Odaiba tower from Odaiba is a long gradual slope.  There are no fences so the view is spectacular.  You can enjoy the view of the batteries that used to protect Tokyo from invaders and you can get good pictures of Odaiba as well.  It is also popular for tour groups to take a short walk to get a better view of Odaiba.  For many people, walking out to the bridge tower itself is easy but walking all the way across isn’t.  Most people will start on the Odaiba side and head to the first tower before returning.  In reality, that is more than enough but for perfectionists, walking along the entire bridge deck on both the north and south side is a must.

Rainbow Bridge is often a tourist attraction that is to be seen, not experienced.  It is not a common place to be for anyone as most people wouldn’t think twice about visiting any bridge.  In Japan where domestic tourism is very high, they do whatever they can to lure tourists to various locations.  Food is the most popular way to lure tourists to various regions, but the bridges are what connect these places.  The government knows this and they created creative ways to highlight their bridges to encourage more tourism to these areas.  One great example is the Onaruto bridge.  The Senjojiki Observatory is located under the main deck and provides great views of the sea below.  While most people will skip this, it is still a popular destination for domestic travellers.  Rainbow Bridge is not as spectacular, and honestly not worth the time for most people, but it is a great way to spend a morning when most of the shops are closed in the area.

Rainbow Bridge Information:

Rainbow Bridge (Wikipedia):  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_Bridge_%28Tokyo%29

Green Tokyo – Gundam Project 2009 January 16, 2010

Posted by Dru in Tokyo, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Green Tokyo – Gundam Project 2009” complete with pictures as well as the latest news on this Gundam.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-g1

If you haven’t heard yet, there is a huge Gundam machine on display in Odaiba, Tokyo.  Gundam is a very famous Japanese anime that began in 1979.  By and far, Gundam is the biggest mecha anime ever, and continues to draw huge numbers of fans.  The hardcore fans themselves can spend thousands of dollars on fan goods alone.  To give you an idea on how popular it is within modern Japanese culture, people will dress up as their favourite characters when there is a cosplay event, toy models of virtually every character has been sold at one point or another, countless T-shirts are created, and even mobile phones with Gundam logos sell out quickly.  The TV series, unlike American cartoon series, has evolved over time, and many of the characters have changed.  This has allowed the following generations of children to also enjoy and love Gundam, making any Gundam even a family affair.

From July 11, 2009, Shiokaze Park became the home of a life sized Gundam.  The biggest fans of the series flocked to the park on opening day to take various pictures of the robot.  It was built to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Gundam.  Since then, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people have gone to visit the robot.  Standing at 18 metres tall, it can be seen from the Yurikamome Line as you cross over Rainbow Bridge.  Your best bet is to get off at Daiba station and walk the rest of the way to the statue.  It is located west southwest of the station, at the corner of the island.  Going on the weekend guaranteed a crowded area.  The main approach to the Gundam is through the park itself.  You will have a nice opportunity to enjoy a nice view of Tokyo and Rainbow Bridge as you head towards the Gundam.  The entrance itself is located behind the Gundam.  You can also visit the official goods shop, but due to the line up to get inside, I didn’t venture in.  The main courtyard itself is not so special.  On the outer edges of the courtyard are food stalls and various activities for young children.  It isn’t that interesting for adults, but children will have a great time.

The main attraction is the ability to walk up to, touch, and take pictures as you walk under the Gundam.  It can take roughly 10 minutes to get through the long line, but the workers themselves are very good at directing people and keeping the line going.  Every 30 minutes, there is a small light show as the Gundam itself moves a bit and lights up.  The main event, however, was at night from August 20th till the 23rd.  If I read the information correctly, there was a laser light and music show surrounding the Gundam on each night featuring different music.  This was the only event where you had to pay to see the Gundam, but I’m sure it was an interesting concert to say the least.  Everything else about visiting the Gundam is free.  If you do have a free day, or just want to enjoy the view of Tokyo, please head out to Odaiba and see the Gundam while you still can.  Do be warned that the Gundam Project is scheduled to end on August 31st.  What will happen with it after that is anyone’s guess.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gundam

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Tokyo (Odaiba – Part II) September 22, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Kanto, Tokyo, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Tokyo (Odaiba – Part II)” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-gU

After completing a museum tour, heading to the southern area, just east of the museums is a couple of famous attractions.  The first is Palette Town.  It is a large complex that holds various activities, one being Venus Fort, a theme mall.  It’s very similar to the shopping malls on the north side however Venus Fort is modeled after a European city.  On the exterior, it looks like any regular building, but once you enter, you’ll be greeted by a grand walkway full of Italian styled stucco wallpaper.  The shops in this mall tend to be more upscale and there is a huge fountain in the back of the mall.  It’s a famous place for photos and the staff of the mall will happily take your photo.  The end of the mall has a stage for various performances and Mariah Carey made an appearance at one time to promote one of her albums.  In grand style, she was over an hour late for a 15 minute appearance.  If you head to the second floor, you’ll enjoy small walkways connecting various restaurants.  The other main attraction is next door to Venus Fort.  Toyota’s Mega Web, and the Palette Town complex.  Mega Web is a large showcase for Toyota and Lexus cars.  If you have a Japanese driver’s license or an international one, you can, for a fee, test drive any of the Japanese spec Toyota cars around a small private track.  You can easily enter any of the showroom cars, buy a brochure, or take a look at a few of their displays.  There is usually an F1 car, other race cars, a theatre showing Fuji Speedway, and a race simulator.  There is even a corner for children to drive around or just have fun.  If you want to, you can take a tour on an electric, automatic car that will drive around the entire showroom.  Heading over to the far end of the complex, you’ll come to one of the largest Ferris Wheels in the world, and an amusement centre.

From the eastern edge of Palette Town, you can walk over a famous pedestrian bridge, Yumeno Ohashi, which can be picturesque.  It was used in several TV dramas in the past but only a few people ever walk over it.  It is generally too remote for most people to use it, but it’s very good for most movies and dramas for this very reason.  Tokyo has very strict film laws, so closing any other bridge is very difficult.  The size of this bridge makes it very convenient to film on.   From here, there are various buildings that are mainly for office workers, but you can see the odd cosplay event from time to time.  In all honesty, there is almost nothing to see or do in this area.  If you can walk all the way to Ariake station, you’ll be able to visit the Panasonic Center.  It’s a small showcase of Panasonic’s latest technologies and green movement.  They even have a small Nintendo corner, but in reality, unless you love technology, it’s not worth the long walk.  In the past, this was a nice destination as it was the last stop of the Yurikamome line.  Unfortunately, this is no longer the case, but it does provide a nice trip to see the edge of Odaiba.

The bigger attraction in this area of Odaiba is Tokyo Big Site.  It’s the scene of various conventions and exhibits.  The popular Design Festa is held twice a year showcasing some of Tokyo’s craziest artists.  Everything you see will be strange, different, and unique.  It’s something that must be seen to understand.  There are several comic and anime conventions where you’ll be able to see your favourite characters, and even see all of the crazy fans that dress up as their favourite characters.  The annual Tokyo Motorcycle Show is also a popular exhibit, including various technological exhibitions.  It’s impossible to describe each and every convention that can be held in Tokyo Big Site, so visiting their website is essential.  If you don’t want to go to any conventions, or if none of them are interesting at the time of your visit, visiting Tokyo Big Site itself is still pretty interesting.  You can get very nice views of the planes coming in to land at Haneda airport and there are several public works of art.  Unfortunately, unless you want to see an exhibit, there really isn’t any reason to be in the area unless you have time to spare.

Overall, Odaiba is a wonderful place to visit.  For seasoned residents of Tokyo, there isn’t much to see or do.  Most people either come as a couple, usually in their teens, or to drive around.  Odaiba is, for some reason, considered a nice place to drive.  Is Odaiba really a place to visit in Tokyo?  The simple answer is no.  If you don’t have time, it’s not that important.  However, like any other city, if you have time and you finished seeing everything else, by all means, spend a day in Odaiba and you’ll have a great time nonetheless.

This is Part II of a II part series.  Please head back to Part I if you haven’t read it.

Odaiba Information:

Japan Guide:  http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3008.html
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo/Odaiba
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odaiba
Map of Odaiba:  http://www.tokyoessentials.com/odaiba-map.html

Palette Town (Japanese Only): http://www.palette-town.com/
Venus Fort: http://www.venusfort.co.jp/multi/index_e.html
Toyota’s Mega Web: http://www.megaweb.gr.jp/English/
Panasonic Center: http://www.panasonic.net/center/tokyo/
Tokyo Big Site:  http://www.bigsight.jp/english/

Design Festa:  http://www.designfesta.com/index_en.html

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

Tokyo (Odaiba – Part I) September 15, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Kanto, Tokyo, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Tokyo (Odaiba – Part I)” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-gN

Odaiba is well known as being a leisure area of Tokyo.  Originally used as a way to protect Tokyo in the 1800s, it never found its true calling until the late 90s.  Today, Odaiba is a hub of shopping and entertainment with various hotels and apartments located on several islands.  The main island of interest is Daiba itself.  It is home to several shopping malls, a water amusement park, various futuristic exhibits, and Toyota’s main showroom.  Going to Odaiba is one of the most expensive trips in Tokyo.  The main mode of transport is the Yurikamome line.  It’s an elevated train system that is very scenic and quiet, due to the use of rubber wheels instead of traditional steel train wheels.  The trip over Rainbow Bridge, while using the lower deck, is quick and provides a very unique view of Tokyo and Odaiba as you enter and exit the bridge.  The Rinkai line is also popular and cheap, but do note that it is all underground, so the view is not good.  Also note that it is possible to walk across Rainbow Bridge, but you will be on the lower deck and completely sealed into the deck by a wire fence.  It is probably very smoggy due to all the traffic.

The first area people will see is one of the largest shopping malls in Tokyo.  Running at over 500 metres in length, and several stories tall, there are three shopping malls located on the Northern waterfront.  Often referred to as Decks, this shopping mall holds most of the value brands of Tokyo.  It can feel very crowded and chaotic, especially on the weekends, so weekday shopping is advised.  However, the views of Tokyo and a nice dinner with a view are worth the hassle of visiting this shopping complex.  I’d recommend a stroll along the upper outdoor deck of the shopping complex to enjoy the views.  There is a small indoor theme park, Joypolis, located in the centre of the complex where you can enjoy various small rides and games.  The main attraction has to be the beach that is just across the street, the Statue of Liberty, and a nice scenic park where you can walk out to Rainbow Bridge and some of the outlying islands.  No one would ever recommend a swim in the bay, and if they do, never listen to them.  You are likely to get some type of infection.

On the other side of the shopping complex is Fuji TV.  It is a well known building, and you can’t miss it.  You can see it from almost everywhere in Odaiba.  The distinctly grey building with a large silver ball in the centre makes it very unique.  Inside, there are various activities and on weekends and holidays, there may be some amusement like activities in the parking lot in front of the station.  Like many television stations in Japan, most of the shops cater to their current line-up of shows, so unless you like Japanese TV, or some of the anime that Fuji TV produces, you won’t find too much to see or do in the area.  However, if you walk towards Odaiba-Kaihin-Koen Station, there is a small Shell Museum that has a replica of a Ferrari F1 car and other various F1 goods.  The last thing to see in the Northern area of Odaiba is Shiokaze Park.  While it isn’t necessary to see, it has a nice area for barbecuing and more views of Tokyo.

If you head south or further along the Yurikamome line, you’ll reach an area that has many museums and activities.  First is the Maritime Museum.  It’s hard to miss, so just look for the large ships that straddle the western waterfront.  There are two ships moored next to the main building, but if you are expecting anything out of the ordinary, you might be let down.  From the website, it appears to be nothing more than a display of various aspects of Japan’s maritime history.  If you are a boat nut, go for it, otherwise, you might be better off going to the other attractions.  If you have kids, or you are a big kid yourself, you might be more interested in the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.  This building might be a little difficult to notice, but there is a large glass wall and inside you’ll see a large electronic globe featuring the earth, moon, and other celestial objects.  It is a typical science museum with a planetarium and other various interactive exhibits.  Next door is the Telecom Center which is easy to skip, but I heard there is a nice observation deck in the area.  If you are looking to relax, the Oedo Onsen is very famous and located in the same area as the Telecom Center.  If you are unable to make it out to Hakone, Izu, or other onsen areas, this is the next best thing.  You can enjoy the baths for a reasonable fee, and they have a famous foot bath with small fish that eat the dead skin off your feet.  Overall, there is pretty much something for everyone in the south-west area of Odaiba.

This is Part I of a II part series.  Please continue to Part II to finish this series.

Odaiba Information:

Japan Guide:  http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3008.html
Wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo/Odaiba
Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odaiba
Map of Odaiba:  http://www.tokyoessentials.com/odaiba-map.html

Joypolis: http://sega.jp/joypolis/tokyo/home_e.shtml
Decks Shopping Mall (Japanese Only):  http://www.odaiba-decks.com/
Aqua City Shopping Mall: http://www.aquacity.jp/en/index.html
Museum of Maritime Science: http://www.funenokagakukan.or.jp/index_e.html
National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation: http://www.miraikan.jst.go.jp/en/
Oedo Onsen:  http://www.ooedoonsen.jp/higaeri/english/

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

The Great Motorcycle Adventure (Take II) June 5, 2009

Posted by Dru in Japan, Shikoku, Travel.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures has moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “The Great Motorcycle Adventure (Take II)” complete with pictures.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-bW

On April 28, 2009 I embarked on my second great motorcycle adventure.  I went for two weeks to Shikoku.  Shikoku is an island located south of the main island.  It’s the fourth largest island and a dream destination of mine.  I had two destinations for riding adventures, Hokkaido and Shikoku.  As I have written before, I had already visited Hokkaido, with a bad result.  This time, things were completely different.

From Tokyo, there are two simple ways to reach Shikoku.  The fastest and possibly cheapest is to take the highway from Tokyo to Tokushima.  This is roughly 700km in total.  You will start off in Tokyo, head past Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe before going over the Akashi Bridge to Awaji Island and then over the Naruto Bridge into Shikoku.  In Japan, the ETC system can provide significant savings to your trip.  On weekends and holidays, there is a flat rate of 1000 yen for cars and motorcycles with an ETC system.  If you travel overnight, enter or exit between 10pm and 6am, you can receive up to 50% off your total travel costs.  Many people make use of this system, however be very aware that during the weekends and holidays, traffic will be backed up for kilometres.  During the first Golden Week rush, there were traffic jams along every expressway on Japan’s main island and they could stretch for over 100 kilometres in some cases.  ETC has also become so popular, that it’s sometimes faster to go through a regular pay toll gate than the automatic ETC gates.

The second route, and something I recommend if you don’t have ETC, is to take a ferry.  From Odaiba, you can board a ferry and reach Tokushima in 18 hours.  It’s an overnight ferry, but the gas and sanity that you save is a lot.  Plus, you can meet a lot of people if you want to.  It’s definitely better if you can enjoy the trip with a friend.  The ferry arrives around 1pm in Tokushima and it’s just enough time to go around the city.  Going outside the city to other regions can be difficult unless you plan everything correctly.

When travelling in Japan, most Japanese people will use their car navigation to find out how to go from A to B.  This is the most efficient way to do things, but it isn’t always the best.  For motorcyclists, we have a touring bible.  It’s called “Touring Mapple”.  It’s written completely in Japanese, but there are references within each book, road recommendations, and information about camp grounds, hostels, and almost anything you need to know when travelling.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.  Whether you travel by bicycle, car, or by it’s intended audience, by motorcycle.  Without it, I would have been lost in my travels.

Please note that this is just an introduction to my actual adventure.  I will be writing about things in much greater detail in the coming weeks.

このblogは英語のblog。もし私の英語は難しい、日本語のquestionは大丈夫。

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