Fancy getting a glimpse into the fast-paced TV broadcasting world? How about a day tour at a TV station in Japan?
In most countries, TV stations aren’t accessible to the public, but in Japan it is a slightly different story. Though you can’t expect to be able to go everywhere you like within the building, there are some interesting things to see and do while you are there. Here’s an overview of my experience at FujiTV, which is located in the Odaiba area and the things you can see and do here!
Depending on which season it is when you visit, there are events held at the open space in front of the building. When I visited during Christmas, there were displays of posters featuring the programmes to be shown during the upcoming New Year holidays, prizes to be won during the New Year lucky draw were on display (like the cars on the picture above), and there were experience booths which allowed visitors to try games featured in FujiTV’s variety programmes.
The tent housing the “Rolling Coin Tower” game featured in popular boyband Arashi’s variety show “VS Arashi” was clearly the crowd’s favourite, with long snaking lines of female fans waiting for their turn to enter the tent. I got a queue ticket which indicated the waiting time, which was a good three hours. Even after returning by the indicated reporting time when I was done with touring the TV station, I still needed to wait for another 30 minutes so I had to give up my turn since I was running late for a movie.
Be there early if you are planning to join the queue for popular booths like this, and dress for the season if you don’t want to get uncomfortable during the wait. For those who don’t have enough time to queue, or have no intention to do so, you can take pictures of the programme posters like most people here seemed to be doing in front of the boy band posters.
When you enter the first-floor lobby of the building which is called ‘Theatre Mall’, there are 4 stores: FUJI TV Drama & Movie Plaza, Sazae-san’s Shop, Chibi Maruko-chan Cafe and Lawson Kikkake Station. These shops offer you the opportunity to buy official merchandise of the TV programmes produced by or shown on FujiTV. Although these items can also be purchased online through FujiTV’s website, they don’t accept overseas orders so you should make use of this chance to buy them here without having to pay shipping costs if you come from abroad.
For Japanese drama and movie fans, you’ve got to check out the Drama & Movie Plaza because not only you’ll get to buy merchandise of current and past seasons’ dramas and movies, there are also displays of props and costumes worn by the actors and actresses which you can take pictures of.
If you are going there around the New Year period (late December/early January), I would suggest that you buy the “fukubukuro” (福袋) here, which contains a mix of items from various dramas and movies. For a price of just 1,000 or 2,000 yen (price difference due to the number of items inside the paper bag), there is a mixture of 5 to more than 10 items from various titles within each bag which will cost much more if you buy them separately. However, the catch is that you might get items which you may not like. As such, it might help to have friends with you and everyone can exchange with one another if your fukubukuro contains something which may not be to your liking, but is very much welcomed by your friend or vice versa.
There is an escalator on the outside of the building which is named “Tube Escalator”, and it is divided into two parts. The first part brings you up to the Wonder Street which is a free exhibition gallery containing footage and photos of celebrities who hava appeared in FujiTV’s programmes, interviews of them and parts of the sets used in popular variety shows such as “SMAPxSMAP” and “VS Arashi”. Here, you can also catch a glimpse of the V4 Studio which is where many programmes are filmed. If you happen to be there at the right time, you may get to join the recording of a TV programme!
The second part of the escalator brings you up to the roof garden where events are held. There are also some shops at this level which sell merchandise from the anime programmes. If you wish to go to the Hachitama Observatory on the 25th floor, note that you need to buy a ticket (550 yen for adults and 300 yen for children below 15). Depending on the time of your visit, there will be small themed exhibitions in the observatory which offers a 270-degree view of Tokyo from Odaiba. However, I thought that the view wasn’t really that great to justify the price so you might want to skip this, especially if there is no interesting exhibition in the observatory at the time of your visit. The place closes at 6 pm, so if you come during the winter months you will be able to catch a night view of Odaiba.
As you make your way down from the observatory, do stop by the “Mezamashi Terebi” studio (seen in the picture above) where you can see the set as it appears on TV, and a panel containing signatures of the local and international stars who have appeared on the show.
If you are keen to visit FujiTV’s headquarters in Odaiba, you can take the Yurikamome Line and alight at the Daiba Station. The Yurikamome Line is Tokyo’s first fully-automated transit system with no drivers on board which was opened on 1 November 1995. Especially for anime fans, do listen closely for the station announcements as each station uses the recorded voice of a different voice actor. If you happen to be a fan of Morikawa Toshiyuki (森川智之), you should be thrilled to hear his voice when you alight at Daiba Station!