Walking across the Rainbow Bridge is one of the most noteworthy walks Tokyo offers. The half-mile span takes approximately 30 minutes to cross. Many people, including Japanese, aren’t even aware that it is possible to walk across the bridge.
Some compare it to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, but at 798 meters the bridge is only about 60% of the length of this famous landmark, which links San Francisco to Marin County, California.
Tokyoites dubbed it the Rainbow Bridge. The red, white and green lights spaced along its cables illuminate it at night, giving the bridge its rainbow hue. However, its official name is “Shuto (Capital) Expressway Number 11 Daiba Route Port of Tokyo Connector Bridge.”
Its white painted towers were designed to complement Tokyo’s skyline when seen from the manmade island of Odaiba.
Crossing the bridge to Odaiba
The bridge connects the mainland to Odaiba. The island was created in the 1850s, serving as a defensive position for Edo (the former name for Tokyo). “Daiba” means fort or battery, and there were five completed fort locations of the original plans for eleven batteries. Battery number 3 was refurbished and opened to the public, and is called the Metropolitan Daiba Park.
Shopping and Sightseeing in Odaiba
Odaiba became a popular spot for locals and tourists for shopping, movies, dining, a day at the beach, or even a day trip to an onsen (hot spring spa) after expanding to become a seaport district in the late 1900s.
If you love Lego, tricks or celebrity wax attractions, you’re in luck. The Legoland Discovery Center, or Madame Tussauds, or the Trick Art Museum are all located in Decks Odaiba, just a couple of blocks from the terminus of the bridge walk.
Be sure to take time to walk along the park on the bay, and if you’ve packed a picnic lunch you can eat as you watch the fishing and sightseeing boats, cruise ships, and tankers.
For business events there is Tokyo Big Site, one of Tokyo’s major convention and exhibition centers, on the island. Several of the 2020 Olympics events will also be held on Odaiba.
The north side is the more scenic route with spectacular views of Tokyo. There are several photo opportunity spots of the city skyline, ships in the bay, and even the new wholesale fish market which will replace the Tsukiji wholesale fish mart in a few months.
The south side has views of the bay, Odaiba’s buildings, and the occasional glimpse of Mount Fuji on clear days. Some people opt to walk across on the north side then take the Yurikamome Line train back to Shiodome or Shimbashi.
How to get on the bridge
The top level, which is the Expressway route, is only for motor vehicles, but the sidewalk on the lower level can be accessed by pedestrians. Entrance from the Tokyo side is near the Shibaura-Futoh train station, which is one of the stops on the Yurikamome Line. After exiting the station walkers should head towards the water and follow the signs to the bridge entrance. Bicycles are welcome, but they cannot be ridden across the bridge. Small wooden dollies are provided and the bicycle’s rear tire must be placed in the dolly and the bike pushed across.