Thursday, December 10, 2015

Staying in Odaiba - my favorite part of Tokyo

I've written about Odaiba several times before - including visiting Sega Joypolis (twice), riding Leiji Matsumoto's Himiko boat, the Daikanransha ferris wheel, and eating the best ramen in the world. There's a lot to do in Odaiba!

This trip, my wife and I finally decided to stay there. We booked a room at the Oakwood Ariake - in fact a "suite", because Odaiba's far enough afield (especially the Ariake neighborhood on the "far" side of the island) that rooms are super-cheap.

We love Oakwoods because they're "apartments" rather than "hotel rooms", so you get both a full kitchen and this:

A combo washer/dryer - really handy!

This was "only" $160 per night - I know, to someone from the midwest USA that probably sounds like a lot, but in Tokyo it's kind of a bargain - about the average price for a tiny single room. Even in New York, that'd be a cheap room - and we had a separate living and sitting area, plus the kitchen and washer/dryer. Oh, and a balcony, which is something we always look for now that we're old and spoiled. The view was interesting, but for $160 per night you're not going to get the same view as the $430 per night Prince Park Hotel. (Seriously, click that link if you're not a regular at my blog - no other hotel has a view like that.)

Still, we really liked this view - it had a lot of movement. That's the Shutoko Expressway on the left, and the Yurikamome train cutting across over the top. (The Rinkai line station is the chuckwagon looking thing near the center of the photo.)

My two favorite things about Odaiba are how much there is to do for fun, and conversely just how quiet it is, with wide open spaces:

It just does not feel like what most people think of as Tokyo, even though it totally is. It's in Minato, one of the 23 special wards that make up the central city. By the way, that's our hotel in the middle left.

This wasn't at like 4 in the morning. This was dead middle of the afternoon on a weekday. Sometimes I actually kinda worry about Odaiba - it doesn't feel like there are enough people to sustain all this. But it does get crowded sometimes, in certain areas. Weekends and nights are a little more crowded in general than the daytime.

Still, it's like an oasis in an overcrowded city. Coming back to this after spending a day in "mainland" Tokyo is really relaxing. And it's still Tokyo, so you never feel unsafe even in deserted areas.

We've always avoided actually staying in Odaiba because we (along with a lot of other people) think of it as the middle of nowhere. But it has all you need - everything's just hidden. There were about ten different convenience stores surrounding our hotel, a McDonald's, and both the Rinkai and Yurikamome lines within easy walking distance. The Rinkai line is ridiculously easy to get to most tourist areas on because JR Saikyo line trains also run on it, and the Saikyo line stops in Shibuya, Shinjuku and generally parallels the Yamanote line that loops around the city, making it easy to transfer. So everything worked out even better than we expected - 20 minutes and we could be anywhere we wanted to be, and coming back at any hour, we were still able to pick up a bottle of wine or two or three between the station and our hotel.

Of course, it was also nice being able to walk to the stuff we wanted to do around the island:

Two concerts, both walking distance to our hotel. Zepp Tokyo is directly under Daikanransha:

DiverCity is one of the many malls in Odaiba - it is really American:

You may as well be in New Jersey. Oh, except for the giant Gundam right outside.

That's pretty Japanese.

Of course we had to visit my favorite ramen place anywhere:

Yottekoya is getting fancy! Every time we visit, they're a little more upscale. First time, they were a total dive, a literal hole in the wall. (That first pic at the link is their original exterior.) Now they're like a real restaurant.

I've written about this place several times before - I just cannot believe more people don't recognize its greatness. It is just consistently the best ramen I've ever had, and I've had a lot of ramen at this point, in both Tokyo and New York. Yes, it's technically part of a chain, but it's not a chain like we would think of one... each restaurant is completely different, they seem to have nothing in common but the name. The others in Tokyo have never been nearly as good as this one.

I've been to probably 30 or 40 different independent ramen shops now, including many highly rated ones. Many of them are good, and even "bad" ramen is like bad sex - it's still ramen, it can't not be awesome (well, except for Minca in NYC that made my wife physically ill). But none of them have had the melt-in-your-mouth chashu pork or the perfectly balanced broth of Yottekoya. Even their noodles are better than most, and I doubt they're even fresh. Gotta be something in the water out in Odaiba. Seriously, freakin' go here and order the tonkotsu ramen.

You may know this next place - it's one of the most iconic buildings in Odaiba:

That's the Fuji TV building. I didn't realize before that you can go up in that globe:

It's an actual observation deck. Here's part of the view:

It doesn't look very high but because Odaiba really doesn't have many tall buildings and the water's right next to it, you can get a really good view of the main parts of Tokyo.

Of course, you can also visit many of Fuji TV's sets:

(Sorry for cropping my wife there, but she's a little bashful.) That's the set of "Mezamashi TV", Fuji TV's morning show that we had actually been watching all week. It's more colorful in real life than it looks in pictures or on TV. Most sets look cheap and dull in real life, but in Japan, things are often even more amazing in reality.

The Fuji TV building's over on the other side of the island, where the Hotel Nikko, the Grand Pacific Le Daiba and the main tourist areas are (including the Statue of Liberty pictured at top). It's a little more crowded over there, and a lot more expensive to stay in one of those hotels. Not worth it. Take my advice and stay in Ariake.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP