Whenever I meet people visiting Tokyo or planning to visit Tokyo I always get asked the one question: what should I see here? Not wanting to be too obvious and giving the examples everyone has already heard of, my answer is recently this: walk across the Rainbow Bridge around sunset. Surprisingly few people do this. It is not a difficult walk, there is no entrance charge and the views are spectacular. At the end of the walk you are usually rewarded with an interesting visit to Odaiba, or you can do it the other way around and use the walk as a starting point for an interesting evening tour of the city. In the summer season the bridge entrances close at 20:30 and in the winter it close at 17:30. After closing you have 30 minutes to get out before the bridge is shut down for the night. I usually recommend the North promenade (see my previous blog posts about the Rainbow Bridge by clicking the tag) as it is much more scenic than the South promenade. A couple of weeks ago I decided to try the south side by myself and while not as good as the South promenade it is still worth a visit. The South promenade is also the one you have to use if you want to bring a bicycle over.
From the South promenade you have a splendid view of Odaiba island itself, as well as the Odaiba Island Battery Park, an old gun battery set up over a hundred years ago to protect Tokyo harbor from seaborne assaults. Luckily it was never really used and parts of it today is a just huge almost wild series of islands, one of which is accessible from Odaiba by a walkway. For the others you will need a boat.
The South promenade is also a good place for boat spotting if you are into that, as most passenger ships using Tokyo harbors pass underneath.
I have lived a good many years in Tokyo before I saw the famous Rainbow Bridge actually lit up in the colors of a rainbow! I always wondered about the name and the rather drab light up, but here it is, the Rainbow Bridge in all its namesake glory! Today, the 23rd of December a public holiday and the Emperor’s birthday. It is called Tenno Tanjobi in Japan and Emperor Akihito (or Emperor Heisei) is 80 years old today. May he live for a good many years still! He share the throne with Empress Michiko, who is the first commoner ever to marry a Crown Prince of Japan. The Emperor is no dummy, in fact he is a respected scientist in the field of ichthyology, the study of fish, especially in the subject of taxonomy.
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!