Tokyo Blond Is Not Porn

Tokyo Blond is not a porn blog, about hair or even, as one pithy friend remarked, a micro beer or late 1980s glam metal band ("Dude, I just saw Skid Row and Tokyo Blond opened and played a killer set").

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my experiences in Tokyo - poignantly, visually, irreverently - for fun.

Anybody can tag along...that is if I like you. This blog will endeavor to be entertaining and honest and frequent enough to keep those following interested including me.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Odaiba - Not Meat and Potatoes

Right before Christmas I finally convinced Russell to take the quirky Tokyo monorail (called the Yurikamome) over to the strange island situated in Tokyo Bay with the funny looking buildings.  The name of the place is called O'Daiba and according to several sources it is one of the primary "date" locations in Tokyo.

It seems this area used to be part of an elaborate military reinforcement act to defend Tokyo from would be attackers from the sea.  Originally, back in the Edo period (1603-1868), Daiba consisted of several small man-made islands each fortified with protective forts.  "Daiba" literally means "Fort."

But during the 80s, that is 1980s, when Japan practically owned the world, it turned all the small man-made islands into one huge development through massive landfills.  It was supposed to be the ultimate shopping, entertainment and residential destination in Tokyo.  But then the bubble burst and the majority of the freshly minted development was left vacant for several years.  It wasn't until the late 1990s, when the monorail system was built, that it actually started to thrive.  

There were two reasons I wanted to go here:

a) There's a Statue of Liberty.  It seems one of the original three was sent over to Tokyo in 1998 as part of the "French Year in Japan."  It was so popular they erected a replica when the original was sent back.  The Japanese do like their Americana.

And more importantly...

b) There's a Bills restaurant - newly opened sister restaurant to the Bills in Kamakura and Yokohama.  You know, the place with the best ricotta pancakes EVER, not to mention the coconut toast! I'm salivating just writing this.  I know, it's always about the food.  What can I say?

Now you'd think I would have taken some photos of the amazing architecture.   But no!  So I pilfered these pictures off of the Japan-guide website (awesome website BTW) so you would get an idea of what I mean when I say the strange buildings.

Tokyo Big Sight aka Tokyo Convention Center
The Tokyo Auto Show was here 
Fuji TV Building
I wouldn't want to be here in an earthquake.
Although that ball might just roll...

Telecom Center
This is where most of the pictures I took are from 
And of course the Rainbow Bridge
at night
Speaking of the Rainbow Bridge, we made sure to stand in the front car of the monorail train so we could get a good view of the bridge on our way to Odaiba.  As you can see it was a gloriously clear day.  You could even see Mt. Fuji but my pitiful wan-a-be camera couldn't quite capture it it. UGH.  I need a real camera!

From the monorail train, approaching the Rainbow Bridge

Looking back towards Tokyo from the Rainbow Bridge

We spent most of our time walking around the two seaside shopping/recreational centers called Decks and Aquacity.  They both had interesting, hmmmm what would you call them, "land props."  Kind of like lawn ornaments but less shabby.

This is just one example.
I think it's supposed to represent Tori gates.
But they remind me of candy canes which was apropos since it was December

Here's another one.  
Although this one had a purpose.
Note the blue tears . Where do I put my money?

From what we could decipher this was a propaganda piece about polar bears. We think it educates people how global warming and urban development are affecting polar bear habitats.  It showed the temperature on it and it didn't match Tokyo's so we guessed it's the bear habitat.

They do know how to decorate for Christmas.
Apparently this tree is magical at night.

And they do know how to merchandise!
Check out this vintage Volkswagon.

They do love Americana.

This is classic!

Another land prop
This one makes an excellent Christmas/postcard.
Wish you were here!
Yes that's the Statue of Liberty in the background.

And there she is - a closer look

To our utter horror, there was a line 50 people long waiting to get into Bills.  We thought by going there after 1p we'd miss the brunch rush.  Painfully we were wrong.  We were both too hungry to wait so we spent another 30 minutes wondering aimlessly through the food malls, haggling over where to eat lunch.

There are plenty of choices, including a state of the art pirate restaurant that makes Disneyland's Pirate of the Caribbean ride look amateur.  Ultimately we settled for what turned out to be a Korean restaurant. We were both dejected at first, clearly unhappy with our choice.  So much so I had to order a Suntory and Soda to quell my remorse.  But then the food came and, as usual, it was great.  

I had a bowl of rice with ground chicken, shrimp and salad.
Looks odd but it was delicious.

Russell had some kind of teriyaki chicken.
It was great too.

Then we cut across the vast expanse of the island through this big thoroughfare connecting Fuji TV to the Telecom Center.

That's the Telecom Center way over there.
That's me wishing I had worn tennis shoes.

We went inside the Telecom Center in order to go to the observation tower hoping to get a clickable shot of Mt. Fuji.  But when we entered the building it felt like we had just walked into a Star Trek convention or even, Alice's Wonderland.  Except instead of Trekkies and guys dressed in playing cards, the place was filled with teenagers wearing anime costumes.  The whole lobby was partitioned off.  Inside the perimeter teenagers were applying wigs, make up and thigh high boots.  It was crazy.  We tried to ask an attendant what was going on but they just barred our way protectively and didn't speak any English.  One floor above we saw flashing lights and determined there was a photo shoot going on. We concluded it must be some kind of contest.  Interesting.

The lobby filled with teenagers in various phases of metamorphosis.
I would have taken more pictures but I was forbidden to.
I thought I was going to be booted out the guy was gesticulating so wildly.

We moved on to the elevator and paid the equivalent of $30.00 to get into the observation deck.   We had the place all to ourselves.  Nobody took our ticket or even checked on us the 45 minutes we were up there to make sure we were behaving ourselves.  I was game for naughtiness but Russell had to take a phone call.  Bummer.  Next time.

While he was on the phone I went from telescope to telescope checking out the various views.  It was fun.  It felt like spying.  I could see downtown Tokyo, the convention center, planes taking off at Haneda airport and even Tokyo Disneyland.  But I couldn't see Mt. Fuji!  The observation deck is not 360.  Who planned that?!  Probably some big Telecom big shot has the other side of the floor as his office, and no doubt, HE has the amazing view of Mt. Fuji!

Picture taken through the lens of one of the free telescopes.
Well free other than the $15 per person entry fee.

One view

Looking down at the building next to us.
I think it's cool the roof as lawns.
Note the green areas.

Looking down at the thoroughfare we walked across.
That's a long way man.

See the Ferris Wheel way off in the distance?
That's near Tokyo Disneyland.

So after we departed the observation floor, we sneakily took the elevator one floor down and snuck across to the other side, the Mt. Fuji side.  Unfortunately by the time we got there the sky had turned kind of hazy so you can't even make out Mt. Fuji from my crappy camera pictures.  UGH.

Oh well.  I guess we just gotta come back again.  Next time in costume.

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