Often described as “the result of an acid-soaked preschooler’s architecture class,” Odaiba beach is one of my favorite places in Tokyo. The beach itself is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, which sits directly across the gorgeous Rainbow Bridge.
To get to Odaiba beach, you have to take a fun (but freakishly expensive) monorail from the Yamanote Shinbashi Station (5 stops, 310yen each way).
With a $10 billion start-up cost, Odaiba Beach was supposed to showcase the futuristic and technologic future of Japan by pairing a simple beach with shops and condos. But then the Japanese bubble crashed in 1991, and Odaiba had to be re-purposed. Now it serves as a fun beach (that you’re not allowed to swim in) and a futuristic mall.
Odaiba Beach: Things to do and see
1. Play along the beach. Odaiba Beach is, like the name suggests, a beach. And it is beautiful, artificial beach. The sand is soft (usually), the water is clear, and the crowds are friendly. Whenever I go, there are usually families playing beach volleyball, kids playing soccer, and teens playing Frisbee. I like to just walk along the water’s edge.
2. Dip your toes in the water. Swimming is prohibited at Odaiba Beach. Lame, I know. The first time I went to Odaiba Beach, we didn’t really know that swimming was prohibitied; they made an announcement on the park speakers telling us to get out.
General rule of thumb: Anything at or below your knees is fine.
3. Take pictures of the Rainbow Bridge (レインボーブリッジ). Rainbow Bridge was completed back in 1993. It has caters to three types of transportation: the Shuto Expressway, the Yurikamome rapid transit, and the regular road for cars. Sadly, bicycles or even motorcycles allowed on the bridge. There are technically two walk-ways along the Rainbow bridge, but they have limited hours and are difficult to find. However, you can get a great view of Rainbow bridge from the sandy shores of Odaiba Beach.
My favorite part of the Rainbow Bridge is their “Green” aspect. Every night, lanterns that have been collecting solar energy all day will light the bridge up in alternating red, white, and green patches. Set amongst a horizon of hi-rise buildings, the night view of Rainbow Bridge is breathtaking. Expect to fight for a position on the rail to take pictures.
At night, the Rainbow Bridge lights up with a colorful, changing illumination.
4. Watch the sunset or sunrise on Odaiba Beach.
The best times to visit is, of course, during the summer, so you can swim and play along the beach. However, even during the winter, the sunset over Odaiba beach is absolutely stunning.
It’s a good forty minute process, where the sky slowly fades. Cloudy days are the best to visit; the fading sun rays will bounce off the clouds, making a wonderful sunset.
I’ve also heard the sunrise is beautiful, but there is no way I’m waking up that early.
5. Visit the Tokyo Odaiba Beach Statue of Liberty.
I’ve been to the Odaiba Beach Statue of Liberty more often than I’ve been to the original, American Statue of Liberty. I can’t help it. The Odaiba Statue of Liberty is just sitting there, in all of its’ majestic beauty, waiting for me to come along and take a picture.
Regardless of whether it is day, night, or the sunset in between, the Odaiba Beach Statue of Liberty is something you’ve got to see, even if it is only for a couple minutes to take a picture.
6. Grab a bite to eat along the beach coast.
If there are festivals going on, you can buy all sorts of fun, Japanese festival food. If not, you can buy ice cream from a vending machine (or restaurant) and eat while watching the waves. Odaiba beach is a great place to pack a picnic – they have several park benches so you don’t have to sit and eat on the beach.
7. Take a short cruise inside the bay. Odaiba Beach has all sorts of themed cruises, ranging from “all you can drink for 2 hours” to “celebrate this holiday.” However, hands down, my favorite cruises are the ones around sunset.
Some of the boats look normal; others look like something out of a sci-fi movie.
There are a couple different “types” of cruises that vary depending on price, length, quality of the boat, and special features (like a bar or food). Ask around before you commit to a boat.
8. Go shopping behind the beach.
The architecture behind Odaiba Beach is… interesting. I love it. My favorite part is the Fuji TV Headquarters – that awkward sphere sitting in the middle of the building.
Aside from that building, there are five or six hi-rise malls directly behind Odaiba that sell all sorts of clothes, accessories, and ironic baby-wear.
Don’t break any of these rules. They will call you out.
Don’t swim in the ocean, no matter how tempting it may seem. Some beaches in Tokyo allow swimmers; some don’t. Odaiba Beach doesn’t.
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