As one of the world’s largest cities, Tokyo can often seem overwhelming when it comes to opportunities and activities. As a result, many ‘cities within a city’ have popped up across the Tokyo area, and with them comes a far more condensed, enjoyable city-esque experience.
One such area, perhaps the biggest and most diverse, played a particularly large role in my childhood growing up in Tokyo, and contributed to some of the best times with my family: Odaiba. A massive landfill just across the illustrious Rainbow Bridge, Odaiba is a true testament to Tokyo’s amazing ability to make space where there is none, and though it began as a defensive institution more than 150 years ago, Odaiba has since become a fantastic location for shopping, great restaurants, and pretty much any leisure activity one may desire.
I have found that Odaiba works a lot like a Russian doll, with large attractions that contain smaller attractions within them. One such attraction is Palette Town, one of Odaiba’s major shopping and entertainment districts, within which visitors will find Venus Fort, a shopping mall with everything from a Levi’s outlet store to a Cheesecake Factory. But it doesn’t stop there. Venus Fort breaks down into three themed floors, the bottom of which contains the kid-friendly Sunnyside Park and Dear Kids Park. The floors, Venus Family, Venus Grand and Venus Outlet, will provide families with a plethora of shopping and dining options that may even make them feel like they’re no longer in Tokyo, but rather the mini-city of Odaiba. Or Palette Town. Or Venus Fort. You can understand the dilemma.
Also within Palette Town is Daikanransha, a ferris wheel well over 100 meters in height that you have undoubtedly seen if you’ve made the drive from Narita Airport to the central Tokyo area. Once the tallest ferris wheel in the world, Daikanransha is both a fantastic way to gaze out upon the Tokyo skyline and a beautiful sight in itself, garnished with multicolored lights that brighten the night sky.
Along with Palette Town are two of Tokyo’s biggest and best shopping centers, Aqua City and Decks Tokyo Beach. In Decks you can find shops for clothing, electronics and miscellaneous goods, but the real fun comes from its entertainment attractions. Sega Joypolis, an indoor amusement park and arcade, is extremely popular with Japanese and foreigners alike, with rides like Rail Chase, an interactive roller coaster, VR-1 Space Mission, a virtual reality adventure, and hundreds of arcade games for those looking for more of a low key day. Joypolis caters to adults and kids of all ages, perfect for the whole family to enjoy and, at only ¥500 for adults (15 and up) and ¥300 for kids (7–14), it works for those on a budget. If you’re up for more of a challenge, also within Decks is Muscle Park, an amusement park of various athletic stations that draw upon physical abilities rather than gaming skills. Whether you choose to partake in Joypolis’ virtual adventures or Muscle Park’s athletic challenges, Decks is great for entertainment needs.
Odaiba can be reached by car via the Shuto Expressway, with Route 11 coming from central Tokyo and the Bayshore Route, which goes from Yokohama to Chiba, passing through Odaiba.
Sega Joypolis is open 10am–11pm every day, with the entrance closing at 10:15pm. Entrance is free for kids under seven years old.
Muscle Park is open 11am–9pm on weekdays, and Sundays and from 11am–10pm on Saturdays. The Kids Park closes at 7pm weekdays and Sundays, and 9pm on Saturdays.Prices range from ¥600 for the Kids Park to ¥3,900 for the main park, with prices varying depending on how many attractions you wish to play.
Cinema Mediage movie schedule: http://hlo.tohotheater.jp/net/schedule/044/TNPI2000J01.do
Aqua City, similar to Decks in layout, provides a much more mainstream shopping and dining experience than other Odaiba hotspots, with chains like Toys “R” Us and Adidas to go with eateries like Subway and Red Lobster. However, Aqua City has its share of small, unique shops and restaurants as well, and the enormous Cinema Mediage always has the latest Hollywood flicks showing on more than ten screens.
A trip to Odaiba guarantees a great time with a range of possibilities, and after going once you’ll realize it’s nearly impossible for families not to return, giddy for more. Tokyo can be a pretty intimidating place for kids, but as soon as you step out onto the streets of Odaiba, you’ll be glad you chose a city within a city that knows how to deliver.