Subscribe
Located near Yurikamome Odaiba Kaihin Koen Station is the landmark building of Odaiba — the Fuji Television Broadcasting building designed by Kenzo Tange. The ball on top of the building is an observation deck.

Located near Yurikamome Odaiba Kaihin Koen Station is the landmark building of Odaiba — the Fuji Television Broadcasting building designed by Kenzo Tange. The ball on top of the building is an observation deck. (Hiroshi Chida / S&S)

Located near Yurikamome Odaiba Kaihin Koen Station is the landmark building of Odaiba — the Fuji Television Broadcasting building designed by Kenzo Tange. The ball on top of the building is an observation deck.

Located near Yurikamome Odaiba Kaihin Koen Station is the landmark building of Odaiba — the Fuji Television Broadcasting building designed by Kenzo Tange. The ball on top of the building is an observation deck. (Hiroshi Chida / S&S)

Tokyo Big Sight exhibition hall at Kokusai Tenji-jo Mae Station of New Transit Yurikamome.

Tokyo Big Sight exhibition hall at Kokusai Tenji-jo Mae Station of New Transit Yurikamome. (Hiroshi Chida / S&S)

A replica of the Statue of Liberty at Tokyo Harbor.

A replica of the Statue of Liberty at Tokyo Harbor. (Hiroshi Chida / S&S)

The massive ferris wheel at Odaiba stands 115 meters high. At night, it's brilliantly illuminated in 13 lighting patterns. A ride takes about 16 minutes.

The massive ferris wheel at Odaiba stands 115 meters high. At night, it's brilliantly illuminated in 13 lighting patterns. A ride takes about 16 minutes. (Hiroshi Chida / S&S)

Tourists from Poland on the Tokyo Water Cruise by Tokyo Cruise Ship Co., which provides shuttle service between Hinode Pier and Odaiba Seaside Park.

Tourists from Poland on the Tokyo Water Cruise by Tokyo Cruise Ship Co., which provides shuttle service between Hinode Pier and Odaiba Seaside Park. (Hiroshi Chida / S&S)

The transformation of Tokyo’s Odaiba area in Tokyo Bay is a big surprise — even for people who have lived in Tokyo all their lives.

The Odaiba area is really just reclaimed land the Tokyo metropolitan government dumped sand and rocks on after salvaging and extending the Tokyo Bay piers in 1963; ordinary Tokyo residents rarely visited the area prior to the city’s construction.

In the 1980s, under the leadership of then-Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Shun-ichi Suzuki, the government wanted to build a major economic hub on the reclaimed land. It was a time of great economic growth, and Japanese banks happily lent the money, believing land value would never fall.

The “conductorless” new transit system — the Yurikamome line — opened in 1995 connecting Shinbashi to Ariake. The Rinkai Line opened in 1996 from Shinkiba to Tokyo Teleport. The line was further extended to the JR Osaki Station connecting to the Saikyo Line in December 2002, making it easy for commuters to come to Odaiba.

Suzuki first planned to open The World City Expo Tokyo ’96 — a fair with a theme of urban life in the 21st century — at Odaiba in 1995, but the then new governor Yukio Aoshima killed the idea, deciding to cut expenses after the burst of the “bubble” economy.

Though the exposition was canceled, shopping malls opened, various leisure facilities were built and business offices were set up. This is why Odaiba has an artificial and futuristic flavor and looks like a playground, complete with Ferris wheel.

Odaiba is an artificial city built upon a totally new concept, said Makoto Saito of the Tokyo Governor’s Office. That is the difference from Tokyo’s other sub-centers such as Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and Shibuya, which grew upon already existing cities.

Saito said he hopes Odaiba will continue to grow and become a new type of city in Tokyo with a good mix of business and leisure facilities where people will visit.

To get there by train: “Yurikamome” from JR Shinbashi Station to Odaiba Kaihin Koen Station 14 minutes (310 yen). “Rinkai Line” from Osaki Station to Tokyo Teleport Station 11 minutes (320 yen).

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up