Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yurikamome Line

The Yurikamome line is an elevated train that serves the artificial island of Odaiba. It starts at Shimbashi Station, runs over the Rainbow Bridge to circle Odaiba before running back north to end at Toyosu Station to the north east. The train itself is a tourist attraction as well as a means of transportation.

In 1853, Egawa Hidetatsu built six artificial island fortresses in Tokyo Bay to defend the city (then called Edo). Daiba means cannon battery, giving the islands their name. The islands were expanded in the early 1990's. Construction of new land was halted in 1995 because the area was full of vacant lots and many of the companies attempting to develop the area were bankrupt. At least one of the original islands, No 6 Battery (Dai-Roku Daiba) was not joined up with others.

The first section of the Yurikamome line did not open until 1995, the year that Odaiba's construction stopped. Before that, the Rainbow Bridge was the islands only physical connection to the mainland.

Originally, zoning only permitted commercial buildings and housing. But in the second half of the 1990's, other kinds of development were allowed. Two beaches were developed (no swimming) along with a park, an artificial onsen, malls, movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, and other entertainment facilities. Today the island is a good example of successful mixed-use development.

The most recent addition is a life-sized statue of a Gundam.

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