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Odaiba (お台場) is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. It was initially built for defensive purposes in the 1850s, dramatically expanded during the late 20th century as a seaport district, and has developed since the 1990s as a major commercial, residential and leisure area. Odaiba, along with Minato Mirai 21 in Yokohama, are two of the only places in the Greater Tokyo Metropolitan area where the seashore is accessible, and not blocked by industry and harbor areas.
Daiba (台場) formally refers to one district of the island development in Minato Ward. The Odaiba name is commonly used to refer to the entire Tokyo Waterfront Secondary City Center (東京臨海副都心 Tōkyō Rinkai Fukutoshin ) which includes the Ariake and Aomi districts of Kōtō Ward and the Higashi-Yashio district of Shinagawa Ward.
The name Odaiba comes from a series of six island fortresses constructed in 1853 by Egawa Hidetatsu for the Tokugawa shogunate in order to protect Edo from attack by sea, the primary threat being Commodore Matthew Perry's Black Ships which had arrived in the same year. Daiba in Japanese refers to the cannon batteries placed on the islands. In 1928, the Dai-San Daiba (第三台場) or "No. 3 Battery" was refurbished and opened to the public as the Metropolitan Daiba Park, which remains open to this day.
From the originally planned 11 batteries, only five were ever finished. The modern island of Odaiba began to take shape when the Port of Tokyo opened in 1941. Until the mid-1960s all except two batteries were either removed for unhindered passage of ships or incorporated into the Shinagawa port facilities and Tennozu island. In 1979 the then called landfill no. 13 (now Minato-ku Daiba, Shinagawa-ku Higashi-Yashio and Kōtō-ku Aomi districts), was finished directly connecting with the old "No. 3 Battery". "No. 6 Battery" was left to nature (landing prohibited).
Tokyo governor Shun'ichi Suzuki began a major development plan in the early 1990s to redevelop Odaiba as Tokyo Teleport Town, a showcase for futuristic living, with new residential and commercial development housing a population of over 100,000. The redevelopment was scheduled to be complete in time for a planned "International Urban Exposition" in spring 1996.
Suzuki's successor Yukio Aoshima halted the plan in 1995, by which point over JPY 1 trillion had been spent on the project, and Odaiba was still underpopulated and full of vacant lots. Many of the special companies set up to develop the island became practically bankrupt. The collapse of the Japanese asset price bubble was a major factor, as it frustrated commercial development in Tokyo generally. The area was also viewed as inconvenient for business, as its physical connections to Tokyo—the Rainbow Bridge and the Yurikamome rapid transit line—made travel to and from central Tokyo relatively time-consuming.
The area started coming back to life in the late 1990s as a tourist and leisure zone, with several large hotels and shopping malls. Several large companies including Fuji Television moved their headquarters to the island, and transportation links improved with the connection of the Rinkai Line into the JR East railway network in 2002 and the eastward extension of the Yurikamome to Toyosu in 2006. Tokyo Big Sight, the convention center originally built to house Governor Suzuki's planned intercity convention, also became a major venue for international expositions.
Odaiba is one of the proposed venue locations in Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The events to be held there under the venue plan include beach volleyball at Shiokaze Park, triathlon and marathon swimming at Odaiba Marine Park, and gymnastics at a new gymnastics venue.
Today's Odaiba is a popular shopping and sightseeing destination for Tokyoites and tourists alike. Major attractions include:
Two Shuto Expressway lines access Odaiba: Route 11 enters from central Tokyo crossing the Rainbow Bridge, while the Wangan Route enters from Shinagawa Ward through the Tokyo Port Tunnel and from the bayfront areas of Tokyo and Chiba Prefecture to the east.
By public transport Odaiba is accessible via the automated Yurikamome transit system from Shimbashi and Toyosu. The privately operated Rinkai Line runs between Shin-Kiba and Ōsaki but many trains connect directly to Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ikebukuro. City buses provide cheaper if slower access. Ferries connect Odaiba with Asakusa running along the Sumida River and the Kasai Rinkai Park in eastern Tokyo.
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