For the first time since arriving in Japan, I returned to Narita Airport to meet my girlfriend Janna, who flew in to spend a week over New Year with me. As my apartment is rather small and cramped, we checked into the same hotel I stayed in when I first arrived – near the station, near my apartment, and a pretty nice mid-range value hotel.
After coffee and pasta in a nearby cafe, we made some plans. I was interested in a light-and-water art installation called TeamLabs Borderless, while Janna was attracted by a museum of emerging technology. Both of these were in a district called Odaiba to which I hadn’t previously been, so we hopped on a train. And then a monorail!
Sadly, the museum was closed, so instead we just wandered around this area, on the reclaimed islands right in the nook of Tokyo Bay. It is quite an interesting place and a popular tourist venue, with several malls, lots of long wide boulevards, and beautiful views of the Rainbow Bridge – lit up in the evening, I finally understood why it got that name.
It even has its own copy of the Statue of Liberty, a popular photo spot. I spotted a Hawaiian steakhouse and being quite hungry and feeling justified in treating myself and my guest we stopped for a very tasty dinner.
Following that we headed towards the big wheel we had seen on the monorail – it had light-shows playing across it showing various images of animals and sporting activities. Underneath it we found – of course – another mall, this one contained an exhibition by Toyota of past, present and future vehicles. Janna was fascinated, while I have very little interest in cars when I don’t need a lift somewhere.
Another interesting feature of the mall were the HUGE numbers of teenage girls around. Many of them were carrying pink merchandise – clothes, badges, bags, banners – relating to what appeared to be a pink-haired boy manga character. It turns out that this in fact was a virtual pop star – Satomi – and the girls were here for a concert at a music venue under the wheel called Zepp. The ones not in the queue were in small groups comparing merch or taking pictures of each other with their prizes. Who knew pink tat could be so valuable?
Also under the wheel was Teamlabs Borderless, but we discovered it had quite a steep entrance fee. The price of a round on the wheel was far more reasonable, so we did that! The views from the wheel were impressive, even at night, with all the city lights around us. It was a nice way to finish our first day in Tokyo together!