Better known for popular evening entertainment venues such as Ageha, Studio Coast and 1st Ring, Shin-Kiba has more going for it during the daytime than you might know. In contrast to an image of industry and warehouses, it’s an area full of green getaways that are perfect for the warmer summer months.
Unsurprisingly, Shin-Kiba has a cultural link to its mainland namesake, Kiba. The latter had been Tokyo’s center point of the lumber industry for centuries until redevelopment in the 1970s saw businesses up sticks across to this unimaginatively named slab of reclaimed land. From raw materials to bespoke furniture, whatever your wood needs are, you’ll be sure to find them here. And if you don’t know your mahoganies from your maples, a trip to the informative Wood & Plywood Museum will provide you with all the answers, plus a whole lot more.
Seeing wood out in the wild is arguably much more pleasurable and there are plenty of spots across Shin-Kiba in which to do so. The biggest, Yumenoshima Park, covers a large chunk of the island, and the Yumenoshima Park Archery Field will host the archery competitions during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The park also includes the Yumenoshima Tropical Greenhouse Dome. Here, visitors can appreciate even more botanical beauty under three huge glass domes. There are around one thousand different species of plant life from all kinds of exotic locations, such as the tropical rainforests of the Ogasawara Islands.
Awash with pink during the cherry blossom season, there are tables and benches for enjoying bayside picnics and barbecues at the adjacent Tokyo Yumenoshima Marina. One of the most impressive boats to see, however, is not moored in the bay but housed in the free-to-enter Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall. The boat in question is better known in the West as the “Lucky Dragon No. 5.” In 1954 the crew were famously innocent victims of nuclear fallout from the Castle Bravo thermonuclear weapon test conducted by the US – an event that inspired the opening of the original Godzilla movie. The hall also provides plenty of information about those Pacific island tests and their consequences, although unfortunately, mostly in Japanese.
Get to the Chopper!
One of the best ways to enjoy Shin-Kiba is by bicycle. Pick up a set of wheels from the bicycle sharing service outside Shin-Kiba Station and take advantage of the smooth bicycle pathways that cover much of the area. Cycling from Yumenoshima Green Road Park through Shinkibaryokudo Park is a particularly pleasant journey, offering views across Tokyo Bay while surrounded by lush greenery. Along the way, there’s an opportunity to stop by a viewing platform overlooking Tokyo Heliport. Recline in one of the sculpted concrete pilot’s chairs and watch the take-off and landings of a variety of helicopters, including those operated by the police and fire departments and numerous news organizations.
While in possession of some pedal power it’s worth crossing over to the neighboring island of Wakasu (buses are also available if you prefer). Much of the island is taken up by the vast Wakasu Golf Links golf course but there is also the more inclusive Wakasu Seaside Park. Here you can enjoy an open, green space and look up in amazement at the park’s gigantic wind turbine, or follow a cycling route around the perimeter that leads to the shoreline.
A popular spot for anglers and friendly stray cats, the shoreline features a view of the spectacularly long Tokyo Gate Bridge. Opened in 2012, the double cantilever bridge also has the nickname “Dinosaur Bridge” due to its supposed resemblance to a pair of giant beasts facing off in the bay. On clear days Mount Fuji is also visible along Tokyo’s horizon. Stay for a beautiful sunset before heading back up to the mainland, or grill up some freshly caught fish for dinner and enjoy a night under the stars at the park’s campsite.
Photos by Stephan Jarvis