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A few days later we headed off to have a look at Odaiba, an artificial island in Tokyo Bay. A few months back we translated a series of magazine articles that include the Rainbow Bridge—one of the bridges connecting the island with Tokyo proper—and we wanted to walk across it.

A few stations from Daughter’s apartment on the Ginza line and we got off at Ginza. A short walk from the station was the recently renovated Kabuki-za Theatre—the “home” of kabuki in Japan. It reopened in early April after three years’ renovation work and the addition of a 29-storey office building attached at the back. It was the fifth renovation of the theatre since it was originally built in 1889.

Newly renovated Kabuki-za Theatre

From here we started on our long trek to Odaiba. Through the outer market area of the Tsukiji Fish Market where we tried a few delicacies, we headed southeast toward the “islands”. The overall Odaiba area itself is a series of artificial islands divided by canals and linked by bridges. The original idea of man-made islands in Tokyo Bay dates back to the 1850s when a number of island fortresses were built to protect against attack from the sea, especially with the arrival of the Black Ships under Commodore Perry. That obviously worked well.

After a few kilometres and a couple of bridges, Odaiba started to take shape. There’s an enormous amount of construction going on, mainly office and high-rise apartment buildings and some fairly impressive sporting facilities; it seems that this could be one of the facilities areas the Tokyo government is looking at with its bid for the 2020 Olympic Games. Japan may still be struggling to break free completely from the lingering recession, but there’s still a massive amount of capital investment money around. The bridge in the photo is still under construction, and the round thing in the background is a huge Ferris wheel.


We kept strolling around the area and came across probably one of the last things you would expect to find in Tokyo—a sandy beach.

Sandy beach on Odaiba

It wasn’t at the same standard as our beaches on the Gold Coast, but it was still clean, white and fine sand, and very pleasant to walk on. Swimming isn’t allowed, possibly because of the dangerous rips in the bay, but earlier on there were plenty of parents with small children building their sand castles and chasing each other across the sand. I don’t know, but this could be a likely place for beach volleyball if the bid is successful. The bridge in the background is the Rainbow Bridge.

After the beach, we found our way to the start of the Rainbow Bridge. There’s a promenade on both sides of the bridge, and the one you take depends on whether you want to see the Tokyo skyline or Odaiba. We opted for the Tokyo skyline side.

Rainbow Bridge

The bridge itself is a suspension bridge and extends for almost 800 metres. The bridge design had to satisfy two criteria—the span had to wide enough to allow large vessels entry to the harbour (it is 570 metres), and the pillars had to be below a certain height (150 metres I think) so as not to interfere with flights into Haneda Airport (the pillars rise 126 metres above the water).

The bridge carries two layers of traffic—the top deck is the expressway, and the bottom deck comprises a prefectural road, a rapid transit (rail) line, and the two walkways. We didn’t stay to see the bridge light up, but from the photos I’ve seen, it’s quite spectacular.

Two features we wanted to see from the bridge were Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower. Tokyo Skytree is a broadcasting tower and was completed in early 2012. Its height of 634 metres makes it the highest tower in the world. There are also a couple of observation decks and a restaurant. Unfortunately the high cost to get to the observation decks will keep us away. The tower can be seen in the distance in the following photo.

Tokyo Skytree

It’s all the craze at the moment, and everyone’s taking advantage of the booming interest. This is a photo from the bridge of one of the many Tokyo Bay ferries with the Skytree image.

Tokyo Bay ferry with Skytree image

With Tokyo’s shift to digital broadcasting, Tokyo Tower (completed in 1958) at “only” 333 metres wasn’t tall enough to give full coverage for the region.

Tokyo Tower

Therefore, work on the Skytree began, and in 2010 it knocked Tokyo Tower off its perch as Japan’s tallest man-made structure. So after countless unsuccessful attacks by Godzilla and its various opponents, Tokyo Tower’s reign came to a close.

From here, and after a long hike of around 12 km, we finally dragged our weary selves back to Daughter’s apartment, and crashed. We slept well that night.

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