The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Odaiba, Tokyo

Last weekend we headed to Odaiba in search of a sports store to buy some fitness equipment for me to use at home (so that I don't have to walk in the Tokyo summer humid heat to the gym later in the final trimester of my pregnancy). Rob stayed at a swanky hotel in Odaiba early last year when he flew into Tokyo from our then-residence in the Noto to sit an interview for the job he currently has, and he had some opportunity to explore the surrounding area during that short stay, He told me there were some things of interest to see in Odaiba, so our trip there last weekend wasn't strictly a shopping errand (albeit a futile errand because we found out that the sports store had shut down). Rather than taking the cheaper and faster Rinkai Line, we caught the Yurikamome which takes a more scenic route to the artificial island of Odaiba.

View of the Rainbow Bridge from the train; and on the beach (bridge in the distance) which is probably too polluted to swim in but that didn't stop people from going in the water on this hot day:

And artificial it was. There are many things that are replicas of real things such as Little Hong Kong in the Decks shopping mall, the statue of Lady Liberty and the Venice-themed shopping mall called Venus Fort. I'm sure there are many tourists and locals who appreciate having these replicas around in the one place, but to me it all made for a very fake atmosphere and kitsch-y feel.

Little Hong Kong:

The replica of the statue of Liberty; inside the Venus Fort shopping centre:

One of the amusing things Rob showed me was the pet-friendly section opposite the artificial beach. Pet-'friendly' is actually putting it mildly because it seems like the whole area was obsessed with pets. There were pet salons where pets get pampered, have fur-cuts and blow-dry; dog restaurants where owners and their pets can enjoy meals together; and even pet furniture stores for all your pets' needs. It's all really quite OTT, but business were thriving so there is obviously demand for these services (an "only in Japan" scenario?). We went into a shopping mall that permitted pets - one floor where you could walk your pets on a leash, and on the other floors they required you to keep your pet in a bag - obviously assuming that if you own a pet, it'd be one of those miniature animals that are just so kawaii (Japanese for cute). At this same shopping centre, I saw a dog pee and I felt sorry for its owner when she had to clean up the mess with tissues. At least you put diapers on babies and you can clean up the mess in the privacy of the bathroom.

A dog getting its fur-cut in one of the pet salons; one of the pet restaurants:

Anyway, we had some mediocre dimsum lunch in one of the restaurants inside Little Hong Kong. I heard Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese) spoken by the staff so I have no doubt of the authenticity, but the food is nothing to write about.

Some of the nicer dishes we had - pork and prawn dumpling; daikon (aka Chinese radish) cake:

Lotus seed paste bun:


  1. Jean, believe it or not, Japanese people put diapers on their dogs too ... Last night, a lady got into the lift in our building and she was carrying a big bag of diapers but instead of baby pictures on the bag there were dog pictures!!!

  2. LoL that's funny! only in Japan...

  3. USA: a future of Japan
    Sorry, but we Japanese are not the pioneer! Every stupid things imaginable about dogs are already sold in the states. Yesterday, we have just laughed at an ad for stairs and slopes for dogs, which makes easier to lead them to cars. Dogs are good, especially when they are small: they cost cheaper, they never steal from you, and they never kill you, unlike your Japanese (or American) children. :-(
    I like dogs as pets, but at the same time I cannot deny my gastromaniac interest in them... (Sorry if this part harms your feeling.)
    Jun (Rob's colleague)

  4. Re: USA: a future of Japan
    Haha, that's funny - I always like reading your comments, Jun :) I adore dogs (not for food, although I would never say no to trying things at least once!), but I feel that dog salons to pamper your pets is a bit over the top. I don't know of many parents who would treat their children to a trip at the beauty salon! (p/s - I've never been to a beauty salon. Wait, do hairdressers count as a beauty salon?).

  5. Re: USA: a future of Japan
    Yeah, it's definitely not just a Japan thing. But it's the first we've personally seen of an area devoted to that sort of thing.
    I must admit I'd probably try eating dog if offered too. Though if they taste much like they smell when they've been out in the rain I'm not sure I'd enjoy it.
    I still like them better than cats.
    Rob (I can't be bothered logging in)