A leisurely stroll through Odaiba23 January, 2012 by Chad
This morning we’d make one final attempt at Akihabara before making our way over to Odaiba. It’s been a while since my last visit to the man made island and was looking forward to returning to the peaceful, spacious shopping arcades there. We first returned to Ueno’s Ameyoko in the morning though, since I had promised Wilson a carton of Pocky from there. Only continuing on our day’s adventures after we had dropped off our purchases back at the hotel.
Yan wanted more AKB48 merchandise but just like last night, it was impossible to enter the shop at Akihabara without having to join a long queue. Couldn’t find the TRIO since the directions from Google turned out to be wrong, instead we found another shop that was selling more AKB48 and SUPERGiRLS stuff for cheap. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any cash on hand and there was no nearby convenience store to draw some.
Thanks to a cute flyer girl that looked (and sounded like SCANDAL’s Sasazaki Mami), who checked it up on her cellphone, we eventually managed to find the elusive AKIBA ZONE (which was really AKIBA Culture ZONE) which we were looking for.
It was a pretty new building that I had yet to see before. A manga bookstore that sold first and second hand items occupied the first two levels. Upstairs, we found another newly opened capsule store that spanned the entire floor. Most of the boxes here were empty, even with the 500 yen/box promotion they were holding for this introductory month. I guess not many knew of this building either.
The floors above were home to a Good Smile Company cafe and the TRIO store that we were looking for. But after all that effort, we didn’t manage to find anything here worth spending on.
Back outside, there was a miniatures fair happening at the Belle Salle building where Momoiro Clover performed last night. For some reason they had brought a pony here for display.
Made our way down to Osaki to catch a Rinkai train for Tokyo Teleport Station. JR Lines don’t travel to Odaiba so you have to choose between the underground Rinkai Line or the more expensive Yurikamome Line that passes through the Rainbow Bridge. Others choose to come to by car, as Odaiba seems to be a favorite spot for wealthy families to spend the weekend.
As compared to the city central, land here is abundant. Apart from office buildings, Odaiba is home to a few parks and family centric low rise shopping malls quite unlike those you’d find in the rest of Tokyo.
Here we visited the unique looking Fuji TV building. Going up to the station’s circular observatory cost 500 yen but entry to the exhibit and live set viewing areas were free. Overall, there wasn’t much to see here as the souvenir stores were mostly stocked with One Piece items and merchandise from this season’s unfamiliar shows.
Next we visited the Palette Town and Venus Fort malls. The large open areas in Odaiba meant that it required quite a bit of walking while getting smacked around by the strong, freezing coastal winds to get anywhere and Venus Fort was quite a walk away.
The long mall you see above is split up to 3 floors, Venus Family, Venus Grand and Venus Outlet. There’s also a large car showroom and a separate car museum. The whole place seems to be built with the idea of allowing parents to leave their kids occupied at the amusement center while they pursue other activities. To keep with the whole family theme, pets (whom some treat indistinguishably from children) are allowed to roam around the mall freely. In fact, there might had been more pet related shops.
Spent most of the afternoon browsing through the many interesting shops at the Venus Family floor. The other two floors were mostly filled by high and middle end fashion boutiques and restaurants. The mall has a great ambiance that has you forget exactly what time of the day it is.
By the time we had finished with Venus Fort it was starting to get dark. So we made our way over to the opposite end of Odaiba where the Decks and Aquacity malls were. This was the side of Odaiba facing the city side of Tokyo and the illuminated Rainbow Bridge. The raised “decks” here provided a suitable view of the two.
The Sega Joypolis was also located here, though we would have to wait another time for a visit. There seemed to be some sort of Momoiro Clover related promotion going on there from the banners and looping videos of them outside. Instead, we headed over to Aquacity to find something to eat. Remembered that there was a Kua Aina here that came highly recommended by both Wilson and MJ, which we decided to give a try.
The burgers at Kua Aina did not come cheap. I hear it’s an authentic Hawaiian franchise now with stores worldwide. Individual burgers start at almost 1,000 yen (SGD$16). You’ll have to add another 200 yen for drink and side set. But it was totally worth it.
Rather than fast food, Kua Aina serves rather gourmet made to order burgers. You could truly have it your way with an ample choice of sides and even different cheeses to choose from. Gage ordered a Cheese Burger while mine came with a generous slab of Avocado. It’s been a while since I had such an awesome burger with a genuine burger steak.
Kua Aina also offers the same generous burgers in sandwich form, which the two ladies beside us opted for. People always wonder how the Japanese manage to maintain their slim physiques with their heavy appetites. But it is clearly a result of all the walking.
All of the eateries at Aquacity offer a windowed view of the Rainbow Bridge and Kua Aina was no exception. This only served to make our meal more enjoyable. For those interested, you can visit the Kua Aina website for more details and menus.
Explored Aquacity for a while, looking through the clothing stores and Toys R Us here. Was curious as to how it compared to those in Singapore, since there are so few toy stores in Japan. It turned out to be pretty small. There was some nice winter wear at a shop on the first floor, but as it was the end of our trip, we had little use for them anymore.
Had promised Suki some concert tickets which had to be purchased from 7-Eleven, but oddly had not chanced upon one the entire day. You’ll understand how rare this was if you’ve ever been to Japan. Went in search of a “convenience store” in the basement but it turned out to be just another Lawson. The effort wasn’t wasted though as we did find an official Glico store beside it, that sold tubes of giant Colon sticks Yan had requested for. As luck would have had it, it turned out that you could only find them at these stores and this happened to be the only outlet in Tokyo.
When we were done with Aquacity, we headed to the adjacent Decks building, stopping to take in the beautiful scenic view along the way. There was a space dedicated for street performers between the two buildings. The one here tonight was particularly annoying. After roping in a number of unfortunate volunteers from the audience, he refused to continue until he received some donations.
Of interest was a floor in Decks called Odaiba Icchome Shotengai. It was made to look like a street out of olden Japan. The upper floors also apparently house a “Little Hong Kong”, a Chinese variant of this section. But was closed for renovation.
The stores here were all set up like old convenience shops and it was fun looking through the different trinkets for sale. One of the shops sold many old snacks and toys, some of which would resonate with my own childhood. There was even an old amusement center where one could play some really classic arcade games.
This shop in the center of the street puzzled me though. For 500 yen or more, you could purchase random sealed boxes. These boxes would either contain random small toys, or tickets to redeem much more valuable prizes, such as home appliances, electronics or video game consoles.
It smelled like a scam, but this didn’t deter the dozens of customers inside, who spent all their time shaking the boxes, occasionally selecting one to throw into their basket. The sad thing is, these customers weren’t aging people either as the shop was filled with mostly young adults.
Having tread ever corner of the shopping malls here, we decided to leave Odaiba and take the Yurikamome back. Noticing that it stopped at Shiodome, we got off at the off chance that we might still be able to visit the Caretta Shiodome building at this hour.
The Caretta Shiodome is also the Dentsu Headquarters Building, home to the largest advertising agency in the world. I was more interested in taking a look from the top of the building though. Was a bit worried when the entire area was pitch dark but fortunately found the ground levels still active as we approached closer.
Took the lift up the 46th floor where there was a viewing area. Dentsu building’s elevators are apparently some of the fastest in the world. This and the open glass windows make the trip up slightly unnerving. From above, we were able to get a view of Odaiba. But only the elevators faced the Tokyo skyline.
The way down wasn’t nearly as unsettling as the elevators descend much slower. We finally spotted a 7-Eleven here on the ground floor and proceeded to get Suki her ticket. It was for someone called Kajiura Yuki, who seems to be an anime music composer. With just about everything else closed by this hour, it was back to our hotel for our final night’s sleep in Japan.Planning your holiday? We recommend visiting Agoda for a full list of hotels with early bird specials.