Saturday, November 22, 2008

Japan '08: Odaiba

Rainbow Bridge and Tokyo, from the Decks Tokyo Beach shopping mall.

One afternoon, my friends and I trekked out to Odaiba, an area of modern developments on artificial land in Tokyo Bay. First stop was the Decks shopping mall, where we had lunch buffet (baikingu, or viking style as they say in Japan) at an Indian restaurant, Khazana. The food was pretty good, and the place had an outdoor terrace with a fantastic view over the bay to Tokyo. There was hardly anyone else around; presumably Decks would be a lot more crowded on a weekend.

Sujith and Initial D Arcade Stage 4 Limited.

We visited Tokyo Joypolis at Decks, mainly to check out some new video games. Joypolis is either a very large arcade, or an ultracompact amusement park, depending on how you look at it. Sujith waited in a short line (an advantage of coming on a weekday) to play Initial D 4, on a special setup with real cars on actuators. He didn't win his race, but he chose a tough course and the strongest opponent, against the recommendation of the attendant. And, he did get to use the tofu shop car. The guys also tried out House of the Dead 4 Special, while I found an old Puyo Puyo SUN machine in a corner.

Tokyo Big Sight

On the other side of the island, we made a stop at Tokyo Big Sight, known to us fanboys as the venue for Comiket, but in use the day we were there for some sort of business convention. Some people are apparently so impressed by the craftsmanship of the pyramids in Egypt that they wonder if mere humans could have built the things; it seems to me you'd have to be pretty hopeless as an architect to fail to design a workable pyramid. But constructing a building out of upside down pyramids: that is impressive.

Public art outside of Tokyo Big Sight.

Odaiba is a strange place, like a combination theme park and city-sized corporate campus. It's all empty public space, studded with eccentric modern architecture; the atmosphere struck me as downright surreal. Even the train line that services the area is like something out of a scifi dystopia: the trains are automated, with no driver on board. It was fun to see it once, but Odaiba would be pretty low on my list of priorities for a return visit, unless there was a chance to catch a Comiket.

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