Our next day was centered on the manmade island of Odaiba, but first we fueled up with savory pastries at The Little Mermaid cafe


The train stations in large cities often have automatic barriers to keep pedestrians safely away from the tracks. Those stations that don’t typically employ attendants who supervise the platforms.


Our first stop was the Toyota City Showcase, a futuristic showroom that displays prototypes and the latest line of consumer vehicles. Here is a hydrogen-powered car concept.


Ali found a tiny car! It’s a one-seater that “leans” into turns to maintain a safe center of gravity.

Ali shows off her driving skills in a hyper-realistic driving simulator.

Outside of the Toyota Showcase is Fort Venus, a shopping mall. Overlooking the main plaza, we envied the small children who were allowed to play in the floating pool balls and trampolines.


One of the restaurants in Fort Venus displays plastic reproductions of its dishes, which is common practice in Japan. Ali and I both wish this practice would catch on in America, as it makes it very easy to know what you want at a glance (and makes it easier to try new menu items!)


Our favorite shop in Fort Venus was a Ghibli store!


We left the mall and walked to Ōedo-onsen, an indoor spa, food court, and entertainment center that’s themed like old Tokyo during a summer festival. There was not much for us to do, but we enjoyed a lunch together and appreciated the atmosphere. Our favorite part was a foot and calf massaging machine.

With about 90 minutes until closing time, we made a quick trip to the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. This globe is the centerpiece of the museum. At one point the images changed to display a time lapse of the continents shifting over eons.

We got to see a performance from ASIMO, a robot developed by Honda in 2000. It was famous in its time, and has gone on tour around the world. Here it’s speaking sign language to the lyrics of a song.

We found a curious model of how the human race is facing impending doom from a number of unseeable catastrophic events, such as carbon dioxide buildup, or solar radiation. I’m not convinced that the model conveys the dangers in a compelling way.

At the top of the museum we enjoyed a snack of sweet rice while overlooking a view of Odaiba.


Another clue to Japan’s culture of social responsibility: In some places, towels and cleaner are available for customers to use to clean up their tables after they finish their meal.

Back at the hotel, we walked to a small ramen restaurant that offered a unique Indian-style dish. It had intense Indian flavors like coriander, but with traditional ramen ingredients. It was piping hot, spicy, and highly unique.