Odaiba (お台場) is a large artificial island in Tokyo, Japan, featuring many hypermodern and just plain strange buildings memorably described as the result of an acid-soaked pre-schooler's architecture class. Administratively a part of the Minato, Koto and Shinagawa districts, the area is now a very popular shopping and entertainment destination.
Odaiba was constructed in 1853 by the Tokugawa shogunate as a series of 6 fortresses in order to protect Tokyo from attack by sea, the primary threat being Commodore Matthew Perry's Black Ships, which had arrived in the same year. Daiba in Japanese refers to the cannon batteries placed on the islands.
In 1928, the 3rd daiba was refurbished and opened to the public as park, which remains open to this day.
The modern redevelopment of Odaiba started after the success of Expo '85 in Tsukuba. The Japanese economy was riding high, and Odaiba was to be a showcase as futuristic living, built at a cost of over US$10 billion. The "bubble economy" burst in 1991, and by 1995 Odaiba was a virtual wasteland, underpopulated and full of vacant lots.
In 1996, the area was rezoned from pure business to allow also commercial and entertainment districts, and the area started coming back to life as Tokyo discovered the seaside it never had. Hotels and shopping malls opened up, several large companies (including Fuji TV) moved their headquarters to the island, and transportation links improved.
Web links to major transportation companies... some only in Japanese.
Odaiba is linked to Tokyo proper by many bridges and tunnels, including the scenic Rainbow Bridge.
From Narita AirportEdit
From Narita Airport, take the Keisei Skyliner to Ueno station, then take the Ginza Subway Line (a Tokyo metro line) to Shinbashi where you can transfer to the Yurikamome for service to Odaiba (about 1 hour 45 minutes to Daiba station, ¥2,390).
Regular and potentially-crowded Keisei tokkyu trains to Ueno station in place of the Skyliner increase the journey time slightly, but reduce the fare to ¥1,470. An easier alternative is to change at Aoto for the Toei  Asakusa subway train to Shinbashi, where you can pick up the Yurikamome.
Japan Rail Pass holders can take the JR Narita Express to Tokyo Station, then wait on the same platform and take a Yokosuka Line local train one stop to Shinbashi to get the Yurikamome. It takes about 90 minutes to Daiba station, and Rail Pass users only have to pay the Yurikamome fare (¥310 in this case). Non-pass users must pay a total of ¥3,420.
Infrequent Airport Limousine buses (six per day) run from the airport directly to the major hotels on Odaiba (about 70–75 minutes depending on traffic, ¥2,700).
From Haneda AirportEdit
Take the Tokyo Monorail to Tennozu Isle and change to the Rinkai Line for direct access to Odaiba. A transfer to the Yurikamome can be made at Tokyo Teleport or Kokusai-Tenjijo stations (25 minutes to the latter, ¥660).
For the longer but scenic route over the Rainbow Bridge, take a Keikyu line  train, running through to the Toei Asakusa subway line, and change at Shinbashi to the Yurikamome (50 minutes to Daiba station, ¥920).
Airport Limousine buses depart once per hour (2-4 times between 2PM and 4PM) for Tokyo Big Sight (about 25−30 minutes) and the major hotels on Odaiba (about 15–20 minutes, ¥500-600). Departures from 8AM-5:30PM depending on location.
Most visitors arrive in Odaiba via the automated Yurikamome "new transit system", a cross between a train and a bus, from Shimbashi on the Yamanote line (or Shiodome station on the Toei Ōedo Line subway). An attraction in itself, the driverless elevated trains cross the Rainbow Bridge with a 270-degree loop for some great views of Tokyo bay. One-way from Shinbashi to Daiba station will set you back ¥310 (any station farther will be ¥370), or you can buy a one-day pass for ¥800. You can also buy the cheapest ticket from Shimbashi to Shiodome for ¥180 and ride to the end of the line and back without exiting for excellent views of the island if you're tired of walking or feeling especially frugal.
The other option is to take the Tokyo Waterfront Area Rapid Transit (Rinkai Line , Japanese only) from Ōsaki on the JR Yamanote Line or Shin-Kiba on the Metro Yurakucho line. Many of the trains connect directly from Ōsaki to Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro, Ōmiya, and Kawagoe via the JR-East Saikyō Line. While slightly faster, the train travels mostly underground and doesn't provide much in the way of views.
Toei city buses provide cheaper (¥200 per ride) if slower access to Odaiba. 虹01 connects to Hamamatsu-cho, 海01 connects to Monzennaka-cho, 東16 connects to Tokyo station from Tokyo Big Sight. A few special bus services to other destinations are available weekends only. The private bus company Keikyu operates buses to Haneda airport, and Shinagawa and Yokohama directions.
The free Bay Shuttle bus runs along a circular route within Odaiba (round-trip ca. 40 minutes) connecting the parking lots and museums in Aomi district with the shopping malls, the hotels and the Fuji TV building. Unfortunately, stops are hard to find so try to ask at the information counters of shoppings malls, ticket counters, etc.
Suijobus Ferries also operate between Hinode Pier (on the Yurikamome line) and several stops in Odaiba. ¥400 one way. Tokyo Mizube Line  (Japanese only) offers general transportation and special cruises.
You can cross the Rainbow Bridge on foot for free, it takes about 30 minutes. If you come by bicycle you will have to walk with it, the guards will actually have you place small wheels on your bicycle so that you don't ride it on the bridge.
The view over the Port of Tokyo is nice especially around sunset, though in winter (Nov to Mar), you have to enter by 5:30PM and to exit by 6PM. In other months you can enter the pedestrian part of the road from 9AM-8:30PM (30 minutes before you have to exit). Closed on the 3rd Monday every month and 29-31 Dec.
The Shibaura-side entrance can be hard to find, and that you have to choose which side to walk beforehand.
The northern side is recommended if you wish to look at buildings in the city center from above the port. The southern side is recommended for views on Odaiba.
While the center can be covered by foot, there is also the free Tokyo Bay Shuttle bus, running every 15~20 minutes from 11AM to 8PM.
- 1 Fuji TV Building, 2-4 Daiba, Minato-ku (Yurikamome Daiba or Rinkai Tokyo Teleport stations). An Odaiba landmark which looks like it's built of tinkertoys. The studio tour is of limited interest unless you speak Japanese and/or are familiar with Fuji's programming, but you can visit the second-highest story for free for some nice views. The giant ball suspended in the structure has an expensive Chinese restaurant. Going to the observatory usually costs ¥500.
- 2 Giant Gundam robot (in front of DiverCity Tokyo Plaza mall). An impressive 1:1 scale robot from Gundam. A must-see if you are passing by. free.
- 3 Toyota Mega Web, 1 Aomi, Koto-ku (Palette Town; Yurikamome Aomi or Rinkai Tokyo Teleport stations)), ☏ . 11AM-6PM, but some facilities until 9PM. A Toyota car technology showcase that will fascinate car nuts and bore the rest of us; others may wish to adjourn to the nearby Venus Fort shopping mall instead (see Buy).
- 4 Daikanransha (大観覧車), 1 Aomi, Koto-ku (Palette Town; Yurikamome Aomi or Rinkai Teleport Town stations), ☏ . 10AM-10PM daily. The slowly-spinning ferris wheel provides great views and is very popular among Japanese couples. ¥900 per head, or rent a whole 6-person gondola for ¥3000.
- 5 Miraikan (日本科学未来館), 2-41 Aomi, Koto-ku (Yurikamome Fune no kagakukan or Telecom Center stations.), ☏ . 10AM-5PM, longer during main seasons. Japan's National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, created by Japan's Science and Technology Agency. As the name indicates new technologies like robots, space modules etc. are presented here as well as demonstrations and physical experiments for the inquiring mind are given. ¥600.
- 6 Museum of Maritime Science (船の科学館 Fune no kagakukan), 3-1 Higashi-Yashio, Koto-ku (Yurikamome Fune no kagakukan station), ☏ . 10AM-5PM. A six-story museum shaped like a full-sized ocean liner, unsurprisingly devoted to ships. One of the main displays, a gigantic turbine engine, was actually set in place first and the museum was built around it. There are a few historic vessels on the adjacent wharf; the World War II-era 'Emily' flying boat has been moved to Kagoshima. The museum has only Japanese explanations though. ¥700 for the museum but ¥1800 if you want to use the open-air swimming pool (open only during summer months).
- 1 Ōedo-Onsen-Monogatari (大江戸温泉物語), 2-57 Aomi, Koto-ku (Yurikamome Telecom Center station), ☏ . 11AM-8AM daily. Tokyo's newest and largest (artificial) hot spring complex, done up in Edo-era (1800s) style and featuring an endless array of bathtubs of all temperatures and flavors- including: uchiyu (insidebath), iwa-buro (an outdoor rock bath), ashiyu (a foot bath) and suna-buro (sand bath, separately charged). There are plenty of restaurants, bars, souvenir shops inside, and resting rooms for sleeping too. There is no way you can get in if you have any tattoo, no matter how small it is. You'll get a wrist tag on entry, which acts as your wallet while inside, so anything you buy is paid when you leave. Entrance a fairly steep ¥2827, discounted to ¥1987 after 6PM, ¥1575 late night surcharge after 2AM.
- 2 Odaiba Marine Park (お台場海浜公園, Odaiba Kaihin Kōen), 1-4 Daiba, Minato-ku (Yurikamome Daiba or Odaiba-kaihin-kōen station), ☏ . Features one of two beaches in mainland Tokyo, but swimming is forbidden and not recommended anyway as the water is rather polluted. Along the beach runs a boardwalk dotted with couples, as this is considered the most romantic spot in Tokyo. The park also contains a copy of the Statue of Liberty, more popular than one might think. Have a picnic on Dai-San Daiba (第三台場 No. 3 Battery), nearby and now turned into a pleasant little park.
- 3 Shiokaze Park (潮風公園, Shiokaze Kōen), 1-2 Higashi-Yashio, Shinagawa-ku (Yurikamome Odaiba-kaihin-kōen station), ☏ . Next to Nikkō and Le Meridien hotels this park is the largest in the area. The southern corner, close to the ventilation tower of the highway, features a barbecue place highly popular during the warmer season. Barbecue equipment and tools as well as ingredients available for rent, reservation may be required during main seasons (see phone number). The park farther to the south is Higashi-yashio Park (東八潮公園), home to the Fune no kagakukan maritime museum.
- 4 Joypolis, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku (Decks Tokyo Beach, Yurikamome Daiba station), ☏ . A giant game center and amusement arcade.
Odaiba is an unabashed paean to commercialism and features more malls than you can shake a stick at. Prices are somewhat higher than on the mainland.
- 1 Venus Fort, 1 Aomi, Koto-ku (stations Yurikamome Aomi and Rinkai Tokyo Teleport), ☏ . 11AM-9PM (10PM on Sa and special days), restaurants 11AM-11PM but some may have different opening hours. An elaborately Venice-themed shopping mall, complete with marble fountains, artificial sunsets every 30 min and an Italian "mayor" reading out speeches from a balcony. All shops are geared for women and generally quite expensive, but it's worth visiting this just for the decoration.
- 2 Decks Tokyo Beach, 1-6-1 Daiba, Minato-ku (Yurikamome Odaiba Kaihin Kōen station), ☏ . 11AM-9PM, some restaurants until 11PM. Features the Sega Joypolis gaming center (10AM-11PM), retro-themed arcade, a 1960s-style store, gift shops, 2nd-hand western clothing stores, fine home accessories, 'Muscle Park' (from the creators of the popular Sasuke and Muscle Ranking television shows), and Little Hong Kong for all your dim sum needs. (Little Hong Kong and muscle park are now shut for renovation from May 2011 onward.)
- 3 Aqua City Odaiba, 1-7-1 Daiba, Minato-ku (Yurikamome Daiba station), ☏ . 11AM-9PM (including 1F food court), restaurants till 11PM though some bars until early morning. Fashion for all ages, goods, etc. Restaurants in 4th, 5th, and 6th floors and a food court in the 1st floor. There is also a ¥100 shop and a Toys'R'Us (including baby foods and goods, and children can touch and play with the toys there!) on 1F, and a small Shinto shrine on 9F. The eastern part of the mall is occupied by Sony ExploraScience housing a cinema and showcasing Sony products.
- Wanza Ariake Bay Mall (ワンザ有明ベイモール), 3-1 Ariake, Koto-ku (Yurikamome Kokusai-tenjijō-seimon station), ☏ . Restaurants and a few shops north of the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center.
- For the self-caterers a sufficient number of convenience stores is available. A Maruetsu supermarket (1-5-3 Daiba, Minato-ku, +81 3-5531-0781, 10AM-10PM) is near Odaiba-kaihin-koen station and a 99-yen shop (1-3-5-105 Daiba, Minato-ku, +81 3-3570-0599, 24 hours; food, stationery, etc.) just a few steps farther north. Two 100-yen shops (souvenirs, kitchen supply, stationery, etc.) are available: one in 1F of Aqua City Odaiba and the other in Wanza Ariake Bay Mall. Finally, there is a small shop (The Wholesalers Market Towers Odaiba) with expensive import foods and wines in The Towers Odaiba building (2-2 Daiba, Minato-ku) just east of Odaiba-kaihin-koen station.
There are plenty of eating options in Odaiba's shopping malls and attractions, although prices are generally a little higher than on the mainland.
There is a cluster of luxury hotels near Yurikakome Daiba station.
- Hilton Tokyo Odaiba, 1-9-1 Daiba, Minato-ku (Yurikamome Daiba station), ☏ . A new seaside luxury hotel popular for weddings and honeymoons. Rates range from around ¥24,000 per night for a single room, to around ¥36,000 for a triple (this will vary by season).
- Grand Pacific Le Daiba, 2-6-1 Daiba, Minato-Ku (Yurikamome Daiba station), ☏ . Another nice hotel next to a huge shopping mall (Aqua City Odaiba) with plenty of restaurants.
- Tokyo Bay Ariake Washington Hotel, 3-1-28 Ariake, Koto-ku (Yurikamome Kokusai-tenjijō-seimon or Rinkai Kokusai-tenjijō-mae stations), ☏ . The third hotel in the area (just north of the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center). Targeting business travelers it is the cheapest hotel in the area. Rates ranging from ¥9,950 (single) to ¥18,000 (twin).
- Ōedo Onsen Monogatari. Tatami rooms and a "Black Ship"-themed capsule hotel within the premises. However, you have to pay typical rates for these accommodations on top of the admission and late night surcharge for the Onsen itself.