Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Itsumi works in the Odaiba region of Tokyo. Odaiba is a series of human-made islands that have been re-claimed from the ocean. Now, the area is futuristic and high-tech, reached by a driverless monorail. We spent an afternoon and evening playing there.
First, we took a ride on the ferris wheel, in a completely transparent gondola which gave us a great view of the area.

This is a parking lot on top of a shopping mall.

An airplane comes in for landing, over freight ships on Odaiba.

On the left is a wide pedestrian bridge, and on the right are bridges for the highway and monorail.
This is the most rectangular island I have ever seen!

Next, we stopped by the Toyota showroom to play some virtual reality games for free.

This is a reflex game. We weren't very good at it!

We saw some cool cars.
And drove go-karts.
These go-karts are hybrid, to demonstrate how a hybrid car works. The go-kart is powered by a combination of foot pedaling and electricity. The foot pedaling worked great on the down hill and even portions of the track, but we had to use the electric power on the hills.
I liked the uniforms.

I got to "drive" this little electric car. Actually, I sat behind the steering wheel (on the right side) and pushed the start button, and the car did everything else. Having my hand on the steering wheel is just for looks.The car navigates its own way around the course. Below, the car is driving but nobody is in it. I'm not sure how it does this.
We saw some more cool cars.

And some futuristic vehicles.

All this was free. Then, we ate dinner at a Russian restaurant.

Stew covered with a "lid" made of bread.

And we pretended to be in Rome (but we really were in a shopping mall).

This sign is in Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English, and the sign below offers tourist information officers speaking all of those languages. I am amazed at how many different writing systems there are in the world.

As we left by monorail, we had a beautiful night view of the ferris wheel.

Odaiba was built as a set of six island fortresses in 1852, to defend against the U.S. Navy's "Black Ships." The area was dramatically expanded during the late 20th century as a seaport district, and has developed since the 1990s as a major commercial, residential and leisure area.

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