So the much-anticipated weekend or holiday is approaching, and the kids are asking you to take them to Disneyland, Fujikyu Highland or perhaps even Universal Studios – but you don’t fancy the idea of travelling out of Tokyo and paying premium entry ticket prices just to spend time lining up just for a ride or two. You just want to go to a shopping outlet, or explore downtown Tokyo at wallet-friendly prices. Fortunately there are plenty of things to do in Odaiba, an entertainment island in Tokyo Bay that will save the day for everyone, providing a fun-filled weekend for adults and kids alike.
This man-made islet has its roots as a fort built near the end of the Edo period to ward off any gunboat diplomacy from the West, so it’s not surprising that “Odaiba” literally means fort. Today, it is known for having a Gundam Cafe as well as other bold and futuristic establishments such as the Fuji TV Building and Tokyo Big Sight Convention Center. With a whole array of cutting-edge theme parks, the only problem you may have is not what to do in Odaiba, but what not to! Here is an overview of the various types of activities available in Odaiba for kids.
Outdoor Activities in Odaiba for Kids
If your kids love playing with sand and water in the sun, then Odaiba is a great place to take them. There is an 800m stretch of beach to play in along Odaiba Seaside Park, with a view of Rainbow Bridge in the background that makes the place popular with evening couples as well.
Or, if your kids like Edo-style theme parks and hot springs, the Oedo Onsen Monogatari natural hot spring theme park combines both elements! Kids and adults can spend the day in summer yukata robes and play Edo-style games at street stalls, and of course, dip into 13 different types of baths.
Odaiba Seaside Park:
Oedo Onsen Monogatari natural hot spring theme park:
Indoor Fun in Odaiba
For cooling off during the hot and humid summer, or if the weather forecasts call for weekend rain, there are plenty of indoor options in as well. If your kid is a fan of LEGO, Odaiba boasts Japan’s first LEGOLAND theme park, an indoor discovery center suitable for children aged 3 to 10. A 4D cinema, an interactive laser ride and over 3 million LEGO bricks under one cool, comfortable roof should be enough to satisfy any child.
Another way to stimulate your child’s imagination is at the Tokyo Trick Art Museum, where 3D artwork and optical illusions await – with an Edo twist! Take trick art photos with ukiyoe paintings and traditional Japanese settings and show them to the folks back home.
For thrill seekers, there is Tokyo Joypolis, which is one of the largest indoor theme parks in Tokyo with around 20 indoor attractions.
LEGOLAND Discovery Center:
Tokyo Trick Art Museum:
Educational Activities in Odaiba
Kids in Japan are blessed with many educational attractions due to Japan’s fascination with science and technology. The Sony ExploraScience museum explains the link between lights, sounds and entertainment in various interactive zones, and there is a 3D theatre where kids can learn about the origins of the universe. Let your child get hands-on with exhibits designed by Sony engineers where they can take apart gadgets, handmade CDs and handmade batteries. The next time they use a Sony game console they’ll get thinking about the nuts and bolts of how it works!
Or, for something a bit more serious and important, get your child familiar with disaster prevention and simulated disasters such as earthquakes at the Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park, where they can navigate a realistic disaster zone and learn about danger spots such as leaking pipes or air conditioning units threatening to dislodge from the wall. The first 72 hours after a major earthquake is simulated, and you can get an idea of what kind of survival knowledge is needed in event of an earthquake or tsunami. Although walking into a disaster zone is likely to be popular with young boys who love destruction, this may be a bit too realistic for very young children.
A hot favorite is Kidzania, which is also found in Odaiba, and kids can choose from various uniformed professions from firemen to chef or courier delivery service staff. Do be aware that the lines here can be pretty long though.
Tokyo Rinkai Disaster Prevention Park:
Shopping for Kids in Odaiba
Odaiba is not only a mecca for fun and food, but also fashion. The DECKS Tokyo Beach shopping mall offers fashion and accessories, as well as a retro-style shopping arcade, the Daiba 1-Chome Shotengai, selling nostalgic toys and sweets that even kids of today will have fun exploring and playing with.
Daiba 1-Chome Shotengai:
What to Eat in Odaiba with Kids
Treat your child to Gundam Cafe, a themed cafe based on the popular mecha anime. Here you can feast your eyes on Mobile Suit Gundam-shaped food and latte art, served by staff dressed in uniforms modified from the anime. To top off the experience, they serve up each meal with a smart salute!
For a popular local treat, bring your kids to the Takoyaki Museum, which of course, isn’t a museum but a themed food court with five of the most popular stalls from Osaka Prefecture offering different variations of takoyaki, or grilled flour balls with octopus filling and smothered in sauces and toppings. Though it may not sound very appetizing, this soul food of Osaka is easy to eat and tasty! And if your kids like takoyaki, you can even buy a takoyaki making machine to bring back home and try grilling your own octopus balls!
These are just some of the things to do in Odaiba with kids, and there are plenty more options to explore! Even getting to Odaiba, using a futuristic-looking river taxi from Asakusa, is half the fun. So head to the ol’ fort for affordable fun!