Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tokyo Toy Show and Gundam at Odaiba

Yesterday started off with a quick stop at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Shinagawa to see the Micropop show featuring the latest generation of Japanese artists. The show will tour internationally, so look for it! It's going to Germany next. At the museum shop I picked up a graphic book on children's advertising in the Showa era. (1000 yen entrance fee)

Then I hopped on the train to Odaiba to check out the Tokyo Toy Show (free!). Odaiba is a man-made island that unlike the claustrophobic feel of Tokyo is designed with wide open spaces. The island is home to the Big Site convention hall (where the Toy Show was being held), shopping malls and entertainment centers as well as office buildings and residences. There are also an odd assortment of museums and attractions including an onsen theme park and a mini replica of the Statue of Liberty. While it may be a good date spot or nice for a family outing, I think Odaiba was poorly planned. Lots of wasted space and it feels too hodge-podge in terms of the layout.

The Toy Show at Tokyo Big Site is a place for toy companies big and small to show off their latest products. It's a trade show that is open to the public on the weekend. Most of the toys were standard fare you would find in any toy store. The Bandai section was popular with Power Ranger action figures and card games. Anpanman and Hello Kitty were everywhere. And there were a lot of cooking toys. The coolest toy there was a Mickey Mouse Transformer.

From Big Site, I took a long walk to one of the big shopping malls. Inside, there is an interactive sports-type attraction called "Muscle Park." Muscle Park is kind of like being on a Japanese game show. There are games to test your reflexes and balance. Sports-related games like pitching and kicking a soccer ball. And even a replica of the "Ninja Warrior" TV show, called "Sasuke" here in Japan. It's kind of pricey though. I paid 700 yen for the pleasure of embarrassing myself in the pitching game. I couldn't even hit the target...

My final destination was the life-sized Gundam set up on Odaiba for the summer to celebrate the anime robot's 30th anniversary. I know it sounds weird to want to see a giant robot, but it was pretty freakin' cool. And there were a ton of people there, some were even picnicking. It kind of felt religious, and Gundam was their idol. At the top of the hour, music blares from the speakers and smoke comes out of the robot's exhausts, then it moves it's head--and that was it. When they build a Gundam that can walk and shoot a giant gun, then I think the fans will get down on their knees and pray to it, I know I will.

The Gundam is 18 meters high. I don't know how tall that is, but it was huge!

The Gundam will be up through August 31.

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