By Elena Lisina
What review of Odaiba would be complete without its biggest tourist draw, the iconic Fuji Television broadcasting building? This famous, futuristic piece of architecture, designed by Kenzo Tange, was the first major landmark to appear after the government's grand plan to turn Odaiba into the "city of the future" was initiated. The move of Fuji from its headquarters in Shinjuku to the newly-rezoned island paved the way for many other entertainment and leisure spots in Odaiba.
One of the building's main points is the unobsctructed view it offers of Tokyo Bay, including Tokyo Tower and the Rainbow Bridge. Higher than the beachfront buildings and equipped with bay windows and indoor telescopes, the 25th floor observatory, called hachitama, is the perfect spot to witness the view from, day or night. The observatory charges an admission fee, but for those who just want a peek, access to the 24th floor is free - take the right-hand side elevator from the 7th floor to access it.
The 5th floor is also a large draw for tourists, though English speakers without any direct interest in Fuji TV's programmes (the network does plenty of young adult dramas, comedy variety shows, and a small handful of anime) may not find it interesting. The 5th floor is free, however, so certainly worth a look if you are already planning to visit. You'll find it halfway up the main tube escalator access.
One thing that foreign tourists unfamiliar with Japan might be likely to miss - the station offers a 'stamp rally' page in the back of the guide booklet you recieve with admission. If you collect the 5 stamps in different locations and bring the booklet back to the ticket purchase booth, you will receive a small gift! When I completed the rally, the standard gift was a hachitama handkerchief. It's fun, and a great souvenir of your day at Fuji TV!
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When I was young, I dreamed of going overseas and having a great adventure. By the time I was in university studying Japanese, I knew that place would be Japan. After three years teaching and learning Kansai-ben in the one and only Osaka, I returned to Canada. Lately I've enjoyed blogging and writing stories about my second home, so that others can share the places I knew and loved - I'll definitely go back there someday soon.