There are many famous bridges in the world. England has its London Bridge, Australia its Harbour Bridge, and America its Golden Gate. Not to be outdone, in 1993, the Japanese built their own bridge “attraction” in Tokyo (東京) and named it Rainbow Bridge (レインボーブリッジ). However, unlike Sydney and San Francisco, Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge is pedestrian-friendly and costs nothing to walk across.
Rainbow Bridge offers an easy walk with fantastic views. The bridge has the additional advantage of linking mainland Tokyo with Odaiba (お台場), a place known for its amusement centers, exhibitions halls, shops, and restaurants. All of these make walking the Rainbow Bridge an obvious choice!
Tokyo’s Rainbow Bridge crosses the truly beautiful Tokyo Bay. Originally named “the inner sea”, Tokyo Bay is a wonderful expanse of water stretching from Chiba (千葉) in the west to Kanagawa (神奈川) in the east. During the Meiji (明治) and Taishō (大正) periods, man-made islands were created to protect Tokyo from attack. After World War II, these islands were converted into highly desirable residential, such as Tsukishima (月島), and recreational, such as Odaiba, areas.
Rainbow Bridge is about 1.7 kilometers from Shibaura (芝浦) Gate on the mainland to Daiba (台場) Park gate in Odaiba. It’s a leisurely walk which can be done in 30 minutes, though it will obviously take a little longer if you stop to admire the views.
The bridge itself is completely white in color but at night is illuminated in red, white and green. The white coloring soaks in the afternoon sun and produces a natural glow.
The bridge itself has two walkways – a north and south side. The north side offers fantastic views of the inner Tokyo harbor and Tokyo Tower (東京タワー). The south side has views of the bay.
During your walk, you will be sharing the bridge with traffic, which makes for interesting “action” shots if you take your camera. The Yurikamome (ゆりかもめ) line, a small semi-monorail run entirely by computers, also uses the bridge, linking mainland Tokyo to the island. The walkway has good access times (9:00am to 9:00pm in the summer and 10:00am to 6:00pm in other seasons), and you often pass joggers using it as a training circuit. But the main attraction of the bridge is the view. It’s a photographer’s paradise!
If you are lucky, on a clear day you can see Mt. Fuji (富士山) from Odaiba! To enter the main part of Odaiba from Rainbow Bridge, pass Daiba Park and follow the shoreline around to Decks Tokyo (デックス東京). Decks is a shopping mall with various stores including an indoor theme park, housing Tokyo Joypolis (東京ジョイポリス), Legoland Discovery Centre (レゴランド・ディスカバリー・センター) and a Madam Tussauds (マダム・タッソー) Wax Museum. It also has an upper deck with a good view of the harbor and bridge.
The center of Odaiba is Aqua City (アクアシティ), which includes a shopping mall, a cinema, and a food court over 15,000 square meters long. Odaiba also has a seaside park and Palette Town (パレットタウン), a theme park.
As mentioned, Odaiba started off as a set of defense forts, from which it gets its name; the word daiba means “fort”. It was developed in the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the early 1990s that Tokyo Governor Shunichi Suzuki (鈴木俊一) began to instigate a major development plan for the area. His dream, to make Odaiba a “showcase” for living in the next century, was temporarily put on hold after the 1990s economic crisis. However, the area was revitalized in the late 1990s as a tourist zone with several large companies, including Fuji Television (フジテレビ), moving their headquarters to the island.
In my opinion, the most interesting building in Odaiba is the Fuji TV Building. You can’t miss it. The architecture is amazing and you can spend hours wandering around inside. There is also an observation deck and a museum showcasing Fuji’s popular shows.
If possible, it’s worth waiting to photograph the evening light upon the bay and bridge. Notice the changes.
The best access to the bridge is from Tamachi Station (田町駅) by JR East or Shibaura-futō Station (芝浦ふ頭駅) on the Yurikamome line on the mainland. If you go via Tamachi Station, you can reach the bridge in about 15 minutes.
So there you have it – Rainbow Bridge and Odaiba. If you can, it really is worth walking the bridge both ways. It isn’t as hard as it might look and the views are amazing. The light from midday, evening and night will give each image a new feel. On foot, you can stop and pause and take in the atmosphere while the wind blows gently upon your face. And the best part? It’s a completely free adventure and a walk I’m sure many tourists don’t do. So give it a go – your camera will love you for it.
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