Recently quite a few people have asked me to give them advice on what to see and what to do in Tokyo and it’s always a difficult question to answer. There are just so many things to see and do here. Depending on your age, interest, physical condition you’ll have so many options. For me though, the best things in Tokyo are the simplest, and the most unique are the easiest: just walk around and experience the streets! Of course, if your walking has an interesting destination it is even better. One of my favorite walks, any time in the day, is from Tamachi station on the Yamanote line all the way over to Odaiba via the Rainbow Bridge. Going to Odaiba by train is always a little bit of a hassle so walking there is a great option! What you do is to exit Tamachi station from the Shibaura Exit (east exit), and just walk straight. Once you reach the Tokyo Monorail in the photos down below you keep walking straight but keep, if possible to the right. Eventually you’ll reach the bridge and you’ll have the option of walking the south or the north route. I’d recommend the north for being slightly more scenic and easier to photography (usually no sun into the camera). At the end of the bridge you’ll be at the famous Odaiba district! Lots of things to see there (and shopping). Total walking, about 4km.
I took these photos on a sunny afternoon, halfway on the route at Shibaura Island, and the last image from the top of Odaiba bridge. I have posted plenty of photos of Odaiba and the bridge before, so please browse the blog via the tags if you are interested in seeing more!
One of the most distinctly non-Japanese areas of Tokyo is the huge Odaiba district, consisting mostly of land reclaimed in the late 20th century directly on the sea bed of Tokyo Bay. It was built so quickly, and there was so much land created that I often get the impression that they didn’t really know what to do with it. No where is this more obvious than in the dead center of Odaiba, the vast West Promenade and park area that is so large and so out of the way that you almost being to feel lonely – a refreshing feeling in Tokyo! I took these photos on the Odaiba Dream Bridge, the Yume-no-ohashi (the large bridge of dreams, 夢の大橋), connecting the West and East Promenades. The only people I know of who regularly come here are the cosplayers who have almost weekly gatherings to meet their friends, dress up as their favorite manga characters and to take photos of each other. It’s quite a private gathering and not at all like the cosplayer gathing that used to be held near Harajuku station on Sundays up until roughly 2002 (since then you get one or two of them but nothing larger, strangely enough it is still recommended and mentioned in many Tokyo guidebooks). The vast spaces and lack of passer-bys make it the perfect spot for a bit of private photography.
The bridge crosses the Ariake West Canal (有明西運河), is 360m long and 60m high. There is a reason for making it so large though, in case of emergency the bridge is wide enough to allow a two lane emergency vehicle highway. It happens to be the widest foot bridge in Japan! At the middle spots of the bridge there are resting points and they are decorated with these informative picture tiles depicting scenes and things from the Edo period.
I am always happy to see that arts and crafts are being promoted more and more here in Japan. A few weeks ago I visited the Hand Made In Japan Fes 2013, a fair and exhibitors event centered around creativity and crafts in Tokyo’s Odaiba district. It is somewhat similar to Design Festa, possibly with a bigger focus on crafts and stuff than Design Festa which is a little bit more focused on Arts. HMJ2013 also had a nice outdoors area with music, food, DJs and other performances. I didn’t take many photos inside, as I didn’t want to bother the exhibitors too much. The photos I did take is from the main entrance areas of the halls so it looks strangely deserted. Once you got into the booths properly it was quite crowded and full of great stuff, as usual!
As usual when I visit this place, I can’t resist taking some photos of the massive building. As many times as I have been here (dozens) I have never been up in the building itself, only down in the event areas. Strange.
HMJ is run by Creema, which is a creator’s market, an online arts and crafts store, curated to some extent by users. Maybe not that different from Etsy, but more focused on crats and less on ready mades. Maybe. I am not an expert! It’s well wort a look!
At Tokyo’s Odaiba district, at the biggest cinema they have over there I saw this ambitious life sized diorama of a scene from the new animated movie, Anohana. For being a quite minor release, I couldn’t help being impressed with the marketing efforts, there were tie ins with the movie in many shops around Odaiba and this diorama was pretty well made up as well. The short title is Anohana, but the real title is あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない, “We still don’t know the name of the flower we saw that day”. I haven’t seen the original TV series that was on air April to June in 2011, but the move will be coming out at the end of this month. The series is set in Chichibu, north of Tokyo in Saitama prefecture and it was pretty big locally. Some of the characters I saw on the ema of the shrine in Chichibu comes from this series! The story is about six kids growing up together until one of them dies in an accident, and what happens many years later when they are grown up. It sounds more macabre than it is I think. The diorama is so nicely done I wouldn’t have minded hanging out there myself, it hadn’t been for the ghost girl of course!