We woke up early on Monday and finished packing up all of stuff for our return trip to Tokyo. We checked out of our hotel and took the subway to the Shinkansen station in Osaka. We tried to get reserved tickets for the trip to Tokyo, but the next train was full, so we just waited in line to get unreserved tickets. Luckily, the train was pretty empty when it pulled into the station and we were able to get three unreserved seats together in one row. We checked the forecast the night before and it called for rain, so we didn't think we'd be able to get a view of Mt. Fuji, but as we went by it, the sky was pretty clear, so we were able to get a pretty good view of it. It's hard to take a good picture through the window of a train at 160 m.p.h., but there were still a lot of people trying it, including me.
The train ride seemed longer than our trip to Osaka because the cabin was very warm. We took the train to Shinagawa station, where we had to transfer to Shimbashi station. At Shimbashi, we took the driver-less, automated, elevated train over the Rainbow Bridge to Odaiba. Odaiba is a man made island that is a tourist area and has many malls, museums, and lots of crazy looking buildings. The train to Odaiba was absolutely packed which was a major pain since we had all of our luggage with us. We finally made it to the correct stop for our hotel. It was too early to check in, but we were able to drop off all of our luggage and went out to explore Odaiba.
Odaiba is relatively small, so we were able to walk to pretty much everything we wanted to see there. We set out from the hotel and stopped at a nearby mall that had a food court, so we could grab a quick lunch. Tyler settled on Burger King, Erin had a yakisoba noodle dish, and I went to a tempura place. Mine would have been great, but for some reason it was cold instead of hot. I didn't realize it when I went there or I would have gone somewhere else. After lunch, we started walking towards the Panasonic Center which has a museum called Risupia. The cherry blossoms in Tokyo were now in full bloom and there are quite a few trees to view on Odaiba. We stopped on a bridge to take some pictures of a small park area below.
Cherry blossoms in a park
Odaiba is home to lots of very modern buildings. There are lots of buildings with open space incorporated in the design. Here's an example:
An example of common architecture on Odaiba
While we were walking, we came across a group of photographers taking pictures of a model under a tree full of cherry blossoms. We actually saw several people doing this during the day. Tyler suggested we get Erin a dress and take pictures of her under one of the trees.
Model being photographed
We arrived at the Panasonic Center and went up to the 3rd floor to enter Risupia. Risupia is a science and math museum that Panasonic runs. We had heard good things about it while doing research for the trip, but we almost missed out because it is closed on Mondays which was the day we were originally planning on going. We moved some things around in the trip and managed to get there early enough on Sunday to see it. We were so glad we did as this was by far Tyler's favorite activity of the trip and we all loved it. It says a lot about how good a science and math museum is if Erin enjoyed it.
We got there and found out that we would have to wait for a little bit to enter as they only let people in every so often in small groups. When we were finally let inside we paid our admission (¥500 per adult, ¥0 per child) using a vending machine. Then they gave everyone little mini tablets which you can scan at the various exhibits to get information about the exhibit and the science/math that is behind it. You can watch videos and take quizzes while you're waiting in line for the hands on portion of the exhibit. The museum is pretty small, but each exhibit is so well done, that you could easily spend half a day there. We ended up spending a couple of hours doing the various activities.
Some of the activities included:
Tyler and I nearly set the high score on the prime number air hockey and then our family set the overall high score on the magnet/ball drop game. After we finished, all of the Japanese people in line clapped for us and were pretty impressed by the Americans. We finally managed to drag Tyler out of there and we headed to the second floor which had a few more science related exhibits. The second floor is free and was much more busy, but nowhere near as cool as the third floor. We went down to the first floor and looked around a bit at the Panasonic products on display before heading outside to continue exploring Odaiba.
- A life size tangram puzzle using a camera and projector. You tried to solve the tangram by putting pieces on the floor and it showed them up on the puzzle on the wall
- A version of air hockey that you used prime numbers. You let prime number through to your goal and had to block any numbers that weren't prime. When you blocked a non prime number, it split into its factors and went back to your opponent.
- Several optical and wave related exhibits that showed how light and waves share similar properties
- A game that you interacted with using magnets and a big computer screen. You had to place the magnets to direct a stream of balls into a target. It kept moving the target and where the balls entered the screen around. This was a really great interactive exhibit everyone loved.
We walked over towards the Tokyo Big Sight convention building. Right outside the building there's a giant sculpture of a saw. I have no idea why it is there or what it is supposed to mean, but it was very strange to see it there.
The Tokyo Big Sight building is a very strange looking building which has two upside down pyramids. We walked up to it to look around before heading turning around and heading back the way we came.
Tokyo Big Sight convention center
We walked back past the Pallet Town mall. It is one of the large malls on Odaiba and has a giant ferris wheel attached to it.
Pallet Town Ferris Wheel
It also has a huge Toyota showroom which had all kinds of cars and other vehicles on display. There seemed to be some special event going on that day, but most things were only for Japanese speakers, so we just kind of wandered around. You can even test drive cars there on a track that they have.
Tyler also got to sit in a race car, which he thought was pretty cool.
Toyota race car
Next, we went to the Venus Fort mall and found a Hello Kitty store which Tyler was very enthusiastic about :) Hello Kitty is huge in Japan, they even have a Hello Kitty theme park.
In the Venus Fort mall, Toyota has an exhibit with a bunch of old cars set in amongst buildings that match the car's time period and place of production. It was free and a fun little exhibit to walk through. They even had a DeLorean!
Toyota History Garage
The Venus Fort mall is themed to look like Venice on the inside and it even had a ceiling which went through night and day about every 15 minutes.
Venus Fort mall interior
After leaving the mall, we headed back to our hotel. We were able to get into our room and went upstairs and found all our luggage waiting for us. We relaxed for a little bit before heading out to dinner. We walked around the restaurants at the nearby Decks mall until we settled on a low end Italian restaurant. The food was average, but none of us was really in the mood for Japanese food that night. After dinner, we walked around the mall for a while before heading back to our hotel room.
We spent 2 nights at the Hotel Nikko Tokyo.
Continue to Day 11
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