advertisement

With its shopping malls, restaurants, and many diversions, Odaiba is a good destination for families with kids. Probably the biggest hit with the younger ones is this one, shaped like a ship and offering radio-controlled boats on a rooftop pond and a good view of Tokyo's busy container port from an observation tower atop its bridge. There's plenty for adults, too, including an excellent collection of model boats that range from wooden ships of the Edo Period and warships like the 1898 battleship Shikishima to submarines, ferries, container ships, and supertankers. Moored next to the main building are two additional boats included in the ticket price. The 1938 Soya, which served as a cargo icebreaker and Japan's first Antarctic observation ship, allows visitors to explore the living quarters, galley, machine rooms, communication center, and other parts of the boat. The 1965 Yotei Maru shuttled more than 11 million passengers between Aomori and Hakodate until the opening of an underwater train tunnel in 1988 made its job obsolete. My biggest gripe is that technical explanations in the main building are mostly only in Japanese. Still, families can spend an enjoyable three hours here, or make it a day's outing by also hitting the next-door public swimming pool (open July and August) and the nearby National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.