Odaiba is a man-made island out in Tokyo Bay, and it’s home to the kind of experiences you’ll definitely tell your friends about when you get home.
The TeamLab Borderless digital museum is truly the only one of its kind in the world. If you see nothing else in Tokyo, see this.
It’s a constantly morphing and changing digital environment, including an interactive waterfall, and artwork that wanders throughout the museum. You can walk through a pulsing and shimmering crystal LED maze, immerse yourself in a room filled with floating lanterns, and if you’ve got kids, there is a whole floor of playspace with a fantastic trampoline, giant light-changing bouncy spheres, and play structures. Lots more photos and info on how to get tickets here.
Palette Town is just another shopping mall (although they do have a pet store with outrageously expensive puppies and kittens a Village Vanguard store, home of the best weird souvenirs) but the Venusfort shopping mall is kind of entertaining because it’s an exact replica of the shopping arcade at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, right down to the changing daylight inside. How weird is that?
The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (better known as the Miraikan) features all the technologies that Japan excels at:
Robots, virtual reality, interesting manufacturing stuff, and a giant mechanical model of the internet are my favorite permanent exhibits, but it’s their special exhibits I love the most. Check to see what’s happening here.
The Oedo Onsen is across the tracks at the same station. It’s an only-in-Japan indoor theme park, built just like an Edo-era (samurai times) hot spring resort town. You can jump into different hot spring baths, test your skill at ancient arts, walk through the flowing foot bath stream and sample any kind of Japanese food your heart desires.
If we’re feeling energetic, we can walk across the Rainbow Bridge from Tamachi Station and see the amazing views of Odaiba and the Tokyo skyline along the way (takes about half an hour).
Another only-in-Japan attraction in this area is The Trick Art Museum. It has 45 different scenes designed so you can pose in them and take pictures doing incredible feats.
Upstairs, the Sony Explorascience Museum has lots of entertaining light and sound exhibits to play with, but I’m warning you that I will totally beat you at Smile Fight.
If you’ve got kids, don’t miss Tokyo Legoland. It’s got models of all my favorite Tokyo neighborhoods (built of Legos, of course!), and as the lighting cycles through 24 hours, the cars roaming the streets turn on their headlights and the buildings light up. They’ve even sneaked in a few fun surprises, like a button that makes Godzilla pop up out of a Shibuya skyscraper and a baseball stadium that’s actually a pinball game you can play. (Note: Adults aren’t allowed to go into Legoland without a kid, so be sure you recruit one before you try to buy a ticket.) Anyone can go in the store, though, which has awesome Lego-themed merchandise like Minfig popsicle molds.
On the lower level of the Sea Side Mall building is Joypolis, an indoor amusement park/arcade with lots of virtual reality rides.
Hungry yet? Restaurants are on the 5th & 6th floors, and the ones on the Tokyo side have great views.
Read a novel set in Tokyo