|The view towards Odaiba from the new ALEX office|
The ALEX HQ has relocated to a rather swish office building
in Tennozu Isle, close to Odaiba. Once a
warehouse district, the area was transformed by waterfront planning that saw it reborn as a modern city. There are now high-rise offices, theaters, hotels, apartment
complexes, sports facilities and more in the area. With the addition of a
connection to the Rinkai Line, access to recreational spots like Odaiba and
Disneyland is smooth and easy.
Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, located
across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. It was initially built for
defensive purposes in the 1850s, dramatically expanded during the late 20th
century as a seaport district, and has developed since the 1990s as a major
commercial, residential and leisure area.
The name Odaiba comes from a series of six island fortresses
constructed in 1853 by Egawa Hidetatsu for the Tokugawa shogunate in order to
protect Edo from attack by sea, the primary threat being Commodore Matthew
Perry's Black Ships which had arrived in the same year. Daiba in Japanese
refers to the cannon batteries placed on the islands. In 1928, the Dai-San
Daiba or "No. 3 Battery" was refurbished and opened to the public as
the Metropolitan Daiba Park, and remains open to this day.
Of the originally planned 11 batteries, only five were ever
finished. The modern island of Odaiba began to take shape when the Port of
Tokyo opened in 1941. Until the mid 1960s all except two batteries were either
removed for unhindered passage of ships or incorporated into the Shinagawa port
facilities and Tennozu Isle. In 1979, the then called landfill no. 13 (now
Minato-ku Daiba, Shinagawa-ku Higashi-Yashio and Kōtō-ku Aomi districts) was
finished directly connecting with the old "No. 3 Battery". "No.
6 Battery" (center left in the image) was left to nature (landing
Tokyo governor Shun'ichi Suzuki began a major plan in the
early 1990s to redevelop Odaiba as Tokyo Teleport Town. A showcase for
futuristic living with new residential and commercial development housing a
population of over 100,000, the redevelopment was scheduled to be complete in
time for a planned "International Urban Exposition" in spring 1996.
Suzuki's successor Yukio Aoshima halted the plan in 1995, by
which point over JPY 1 trillion had been spent on the project, and Odaiba was
still under populated and full of vacant lots. Many of the special companies
set up to develop the island became practically bankrupt. The collapse of the
Japanese asset price bubble was a major factor, as it frustrated commercial
development in Tokyo generally. The area was also viewed as inconvenient for
business, as its physical connections to Tokyo—the Rainbow Bridge and the
Yurikamome rapid transit line—made travel to and from central Tokyo relatively
The area started coming back to life in the late 1990s as a
tourist and leisure zone, with several large hotels and shopping malls. Several
large companies including Fuji Television moved their headquarters to the
island, and transportation links improved with the connection of the Rinkai
Line into the JR East railway network in 2002 and the eastward extension of the
Yurikamome to Toyosu in 2006. Tokyo Big Sight, the convention center originally
built to house Governor Suzuki's planned intercity convention, also became a
major venue for international expositions.