First time in Japan: a city of the future?

This post is sponsored by the disgusting and nasty weather of Tokyo which was the reason we had to skip one of the city’s parks and set ourselves to the artificial island of Odaiba because there we could stay indoors most of the time.

The island was created in the 19th century for defense purposes but had barely been in use until 90s when the government suddenly decided to turn it into the new touristic and cultural center. Thanks to the engineering driven city design the district looks quite futuristic, or at least matches what they thought about the future in 90s.

The best way to get to Odaiba is to use a pilotless monorail train from Shimbashi station. The absense of human control and multiple layers of roads and rails make you think future, while typical Japanese silence and gloomy rain create cyberpank ambience.

There is nothing of a rainbow in the Rainbow Bridge in this weather…

Looks like they really unleashed engineering creativity when designing Odaiba.

It is usual for Tokyo to see division of pedestrian ways and roads, but Odaiba takes the idea to the extreme.

This pedestrian walk is built right on top of a busy road.

Guess the city by a picture. Oh wait…

So our goal was to hide from the weather in Odaiba’s numerous malls with stores of anime stuff and weird fashion items.

If you ask me to show you just one picture of Tokyo, it will be this one, with cherry blossom and a giant battle android.

One of the malls has a ramen-themed food park on its top floor. Actually, that’s where we had the best ramen of the entire trip.

So we almost succeeded in our goal to stay inside, when we found out about a cool museum of science and innovation not very far away. We basically had no choice but to walk under the rain for 20 minutes and be greeted by a huge model of Earth.

The main focus of the museum is education and showing children how awesome science is, although their robot collection does a good job attracting adult nerds attention as well =)

They even have the famous ASIMO, but you can only see it a few times a day during a 10-minute presentation.

Not interested in robots? Choose among exhibitions about space science and environment and a quite psychedelic data privacy installation.

The museum gave me a very warm feeling – it was great to see how it is fueled by the love for science and tech. Plan at least two, better three hours for this one.

In good weather there is much more to do in Odaiba than just stay inside – there is a beach, and a Ferris wheel, and a park with an overview of the bay and Tokyo downtown.

One can easily spend a full day here and even stay overnight in one of Odaiba’s hotels. There is supposed to be a nice view of the Rainbow Bridge in front of Tokyo, but that time we were not destined to see it.

Alternatively, set your way to Shibuya – one of the Tokyo’s business and nightlife hubs. Trying to find my way through a maze of stairs and passages in a crowd of people whose faces were hidden behind masks and umbrellas, I could not take this word out of my mind: cyberpunk.

Nowhere else is the feeling of isolation so strong as on these stairs, crammed in between roads and rails, cars and faceless skyscrapers.

Thankfully, the passages do not continue forever (unless you lose your way and can’t get out anymore…). In just a couple of minutes the surroundings are once more vivid and loud. Shibuya is home to numerous restaurants (also starred by Michelin), bars and night clubs, visited by locals and tourists alike.

The most iconic view of Tokyo, the “Japanese Times Square”, is also found in Shibuya (though I still don’t get why this crossing among dozens of them, with the same diagonal crosswalks and neon ads).

After a few cocktails it’s time to go back to the hotel. I think this time I will take a detour to the station and walk normal streets instead of those stairs…

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