Saturday, November 5, 2016

exploring Odaiba

This autumn trip to Tokyo has brought me to places I haven't visited on my first trip to the city. Aside from Ginza, I was able to explore another district on another evening... Odaiba. Now this area allowed me to be near the sea; the Tokyo Bay, to be exact. But even with my closest approach (which was on a quay), I couldn't hear the crash of waves.... Because there were no crashing waves. It was really strange. It was quite a contrast from Anilao, where the waves break onto the rocky beach, making that calming sound always associated with the sea. 

Odaiba appears to be made up of artificial islands; these were formally intended to be fortresses to protect Tokyo from foreign invaders in the 19th century. After half a century, the islands were officially connected and converted into a major tourist area. I limited my exploration to the outdoor attractions of Odaiba for my evening stroll... I felt that I had already spent too much time indoors that day. I began my walking tour at the Odaiba Seaside Park. As I walked along the pathway, I ended up in New York, on Liberty Island to be be specific! 


Although Japan is an ultramodern country, I don't think its scientists have developed a way to teleport people from one city to another... except to bring muggles to Hogsmeade. That, I've experienced myself. No need to catch the train at Platform 9-3/4!

The statue of Liberty found in Odaiba is a replica, but not of the New York statue. Instead, it's a replica of the statue found in Île aux Cygnes, France. I've never been to New York or to Île aux Cygnes; it's my first time to see the Statue of Liberty in any form, in real life. So I was quite excited to see it up close.

Behind the replica was the Rainbow Bridge, a suspension bridge that probably got its name from the different colours it gets lit up with at night. On the night I went on my stroll, the bridge was mainly white. But I've found photos in which the bridge looked like gummy bears because of the colours.

A few metres away, I found that the view of the bay at night wasn't easy to photograph because it was too dark. I started missing the use of a real camera, rather than the iPhone. Sure, the iPhone takes decent photos... but I still prefer using a standalone camera. Anyway, as I walked away from the water, I noticed yet another statue.

Unfortunately, I don't know what this sculpture is all about. All I can surmise is this may be about a woman whose view of herself is not yet fully formed. I passed this sculpture and started walking more inland.

Further down the park, I came across a third big statue: the Freedom Flame on the Centre Promenade. This sculpture was made by Marc Coutelier using aluminum and bronze covered in gold leaf. It looked like a giant segmented worm to me... and in no way was I convinced that it's covered in gold. The lights that night made the statue look a bit green.

Soon, I was somewhere near Diver City, a shopping mall, whose main outdoor attraction is a giant statue of Gundam. This is the fourth big statue I've encountered this night. What's going on here?!

I don't know who Gundam is, but my brother does. I think I grew up relating more to my older cousins because I'm more exposed to "older" animated series like Voltes V, Voltron (with the lions), Candy Candy, and Daimos... these, I think, were shown much earlier in the Philippines than Gundam. Anyway, I was wowed by the size of the robot! And this made me think: if the cartoons were true (i.e., real life), then the robots must even be bigger than these, particularly Voltes V and Voltron; human operators of the various components would force the robot makers to make sure that they (the operators) can fit in.

Further down the path, I walked past a skater park and a few markers stating the land elevation. The last time I saw one of these was in Brisbane. Bob, my supervisor, had mentioned then that they used these markers to show how far floods from the Brisbane River can go inland. Perhaps, this Odaiban elevation marker does something similar; most likely, this place gets its share of flooding.

A few metres further, I arrived at Venus Fort. It is a shopping mall. But to me, the main attraction wasn't the mall itself (which I would have loved to explore if it were open late into the night) but the Toyota MegaWeb. Coming from a family of car enthusiasts, I just had to take a peek at what Toyota models are on display here.

Too bad the exhibits were already closed. I was lucky though because when the exhibits close, the corridor inside MegaWeb becomes a pass-through to the other side of the building; so, even if I couldn't get close to the vehicles, I could at least see them from afar. The best exhibit, I think, was the display of real cars in glass cases one on top of the other... like Matchboxes, only a lot bigger!

There also was a Ferris wheel near the MegaWeb. It's called Daikanransha, one of the tallest Ferris wheels all over the world. Would I like to ride in it? No! I'd rather go visit the Tokyo Skytree! That's even taller! When I could do that is the big question.

My selfie stick finally decided to get drained. And so, finally, I decided to head back to the hotel. For the first time, I was able to use the selfie stick with my iPhone in earnest. Finally, I had photos of me! On the other hand, my feet were starting to feel the strain of too much walking: first in heels all day (inclined surfaces, carpeted areas, and stairs included) and then in walking boots over long distances. I worried that I might have walked too far away that it would be difficult to go back to the hotel. However, I was pleasantly surprised that if I weren't taking a lot of photos, this evening stroll wasn't too long. Maybe a kilometer and a half or so only. 

I was lucky because the nighttime temperature didn't dip too low. I had a very nice, relaxing long walk. Looking forward to the next one.