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Tokyo (Shiodome) July 13, 2010

Posted by Dru in Japan, Kanto, Tokyo.
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Author’s Note:  Dru’s Misadventures had moved to HinoMaple.  Please venture on over there to read “Tokyo (Shiodome)” complete with photos.  http://wp.me/p2liAm-qz

Shiodome is one of the most modern looking areas of Tokyo.  It was once an old train terminal that has been redeveloped into a modern city within Tokyo.  There is no real way to describe this area, other than to say that it is awe inspiring.  There are many ways to enter the Shiodome area.  The easiest is to use the JR lines and use Shinbashi Station.  The station is located on the corner of the Shiodome area.  The station is also served by the Ginza and Asakusa lines if those are more convenient for you.  The best way to enter the area is to use the Oedo line.  The main reason to use the Oedo line is because you will start off under Shiodome.  The Oedo line’s station is located in the centre of the area and as you head up into the area, you will slowly get an idea of what Shiodome really is.  The Oedo line itself was built deep underground.  Regardless of which exit you take, you will start off with nothing more than a few hallways before you slowly make your way to the surface.  Each set of escalators will take you to the next level.  Think of it like peeling leaves off an artichoke.  You reveal more and more until you can see the entire place for all its glory.

The first layer that you will happen upon is an underground shopping complex.  Do beware that if you head in the wrong direction, you will be heading towards the residential district.  This area is not as interesting, but still worth a quick look.  You will be amazed by the vast area that you can wander that is completely underground.  Each building in the area has its own set of artwork, or something interesting to see.  Most of the buildings have their own restaurants within the basement area, and there are various shops located in the basement concourse.  Heading in the direction of “Shinbashi Station” is the easiest way to see everything, but if you do reach Shinbashi Station, you will have gone too far.  The underground area also has a few interesting plazas to see.  One of those plazas has an interesting dome object that doubles as a waterfountain.  Beware as the signs are written in Japanese with minimal English warning you of when the fountain show will begin.  The underground plazas are especially pretty in the Christmas season.  The Dentsu building, located on the north-east corner is home to an annual light display that is popular among couples during the Christmas season.  It’s common to see couples enter a small teepee shaped metal tent and press a button.  This will randomly make a set of lights turn a specific colour that coincides with their fortune.  Some couples will press it together to see if their fortune is good as a couple or not.  Obviously this is not a real indicator of luck, and everyone just enjoys it for the fun.  Generally, the lines for this attraction can be extremely long during the Christmas season.

One of the more interesting things to do is to visit the Nittele Building.  This is the headquarters of Nippon Television.  They do all of their broadcasting from this building, and film various shows as well.  It’s very common to see newscasters, weathergirls, and various celebrities filming live segments for the news or morning programs.  They also hold various concerts at times with musicians of all calibers performing.  The largest concert that I have seen was one for Arashi during their annual 24 hour telethon.  They also included a 3D segment of the concert.  Like the FujiTV studios in Odaiba, the Nittele studio also has various activities throughout the year in a concourse near the station.  It’s a great way to check out some of the television culture while you are there.  If you want to get on TV, it’s best to arrive in the morning as they always have segments being filmed throughout the complex.  If you aren’t interested in the Nittele building, it’s still a great place to visit for the building and architecture around it.

If you make your way up to the Yurikamome Station from the Nittele Building, you will be taken to a sky walkway.  The route to access this walkway, next to the Nittele Building, is a set of long escalators which provide a view of the central complex.  It is also a lot of fun to ride up and down the escalators due to their length.  If it’s busy, it isn’t as much fun as you can’t really play on it and take fun pictures.  At the top of the escalators, you will be able to see one of Hayao Miyazaki’s works.  He designed a large clock that performs every hour.  If you have ever seen one of his films, you will easily recognize his style of art within this clock itself.  It can be a little busy during the performance, so get there a few minutes before to get the best viewing locations.  Do note that it’s best to go during office hours as there are less people watching the show.  Once you reach the sky walkway area, you will be presented with a maze of walkways.  All of the walkways connect the various buildings high above the street.  Glass walls were built into the walkways to protect you from falling, or prevent you from jumping onto the street below.  There aren’t many support beams to block your view, so you’ll be able to see everything that’s around you.  The best time to visit the walkway is at night.  Once the sun goes down, fluorescent lights turn on giving the area a futuristic feel.  You cannot imagine the different tone the area takes up when things are dark.

Shiodome is a very interesting and futuristic looking area.  The buildings may look normal at times, but they also have a certain aesthetic that can’t be explained.  The area is very stale due to the lack of greenery, but the dynamism of the area is unique and intriguing.  Like any other area of Tokyo, the area has two different sides, if not three.  There’s the daytime, the nighttime, and the overnight side.  In the day, things are bustling with people moving from A to B.  The TV studio is running at full blast producing morning shows, and the shops are open.  At night, people rush home or head to the bars.  The atmosphere is a little quieter, and things look extremely different.  Overnight, the area is deserted.  You can walk around and not see anyone, although this is rare.  It can almost feel like a ghost town.  I wouldn’t recommend staying overnight in the area as there aren’t many people around.  Enjoy it during the day and at night, but return home by your last train.  If you did get stuck, get out and head over to Shinbashi.  They have a lot more happening all night.

Shiodome Information:

Wikitravel:  http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo/Shiodome
Shiodome’s Official Site:  http://www.sio-site.or.jp/index2.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。

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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.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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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。

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