Bridge to Odaiba Spanning Tokyo Bay
Rainbow Bridge is a long suspension bridge crossing Tokyo Bay in the south of the capital. It allows an easy travel by train, by car or on foot to reach Odaiba, the artificial entertainment island appreciated by locals and tourists alike to unwind.
In the 1980s, Odaiba artificial island entered an economic and touristic growth. It was consequently decided to build a bridge crossing Tokyo Bay to quickly reach this destination. However, there were many limitations due to the preexisting infrastructures such as the expressways, the freight maritime routes, and Haneda airport. Requirements were a spacing of the pillars wide enough to allow the navigation of large cargoes, and a maximum height that would not impede the planes ✈️' landing and take off at the nearby airport. Therefore, the Rainbow Bridge was constructed as a suspension bridge between 1987 to 1993.
Designed for multi-modal traffic
The Rainbow Bridge became the symbol of Tokyo Bay as soon as its inauguration. With a maximum 126 meters high and 798 meters long, its majestic silhouette dominates the mouth of Sumida River. Thanks to its generous dimensions, it can support 4 traffic lanes:
- The Shuto Expressway n°11, a toll road located on the upper part of the bridge,
- Road 357,
- The aerial metro line Yurikamome, and,
- A 1,7km long pedestrian walkway, whose access is free and only on the day time.
Walk the bridge for a view on the Bay
To enjoy the panorama without hurry, cross the Rainbow Bridge on foot. First, get to Shibaura-futo station (Yurikamome line) which is the nearest to the beginning of the walk from Tokyo’s side. Tamachi station (JR Yamanote line) can also be considered to start the walk, however, it is a bit further away.
An access dedicated to walkers and cyclists hosts 2 elevators reaching the pedestrian walkways. Two pedestrian lanes are available:
- The northern path, with a view on the capital including skyscrapers such as the Tokyo Tower and the industrial port. A little bit further, there is a view on Harumi Island’s Olympic Village,
- The southern path, with a panorama on the Bay and part of Odaiba, notably the Fuji TV building, the Museum of Maritime Science and on a clear weather day up to Mount Fuji.
Observation platforms on the landscape that also serve as rest areas with benches are arranged along each pedestrian way. At the highest point of the bridge’s deck, visitors stand more than 50 meters above the water and can easily feel how intimidating the span of the structure seems. The walkways are closed on strong winds days.
A leisurely crossing of the bridge takes about half an hour. We also recommend the walk in the early evening when lights starts to sparkle in the cityscape.
Walking your bike required
Bicycle riders can use the Rainbow Bridge but they must get off their bikes 🚲 and walk them. To prevent any irregular crossing of the bridge riding, the bicycle’s rear wheel is enclosed in a small wooden trolley.
Note however that there is a traffic direction for bicycles. To go to Odaiba, cyclists must use the southern path with the view on the bay and to come back to Shibaura they must use the northern path with the panorama on Tokyo.
Boarding the Yurikamome aerial line
The most common transportation method to reach Odaiba is to board the aerial monorail 🚝 line Yurikamome, whose name means "Black-headed gull". The Yurikamome line is riding on pneumatic tires and has the particularity of being automated, which means there is no driver most of the time. It allows passengers to ride at the front seats in the carriage and to have a beautiful unobstructed view during the travel. A delightful show for children!
The train 🚅 passes at the center of the bridge’s inferior platform and through the structure at the same level as road 357 and the pedestrian walkways. The speed is moderate, with a peak at 60km/h, but it truly give a roundabout feeling, especially when riding on the spiral ramp to reach the altitude of the Rainbow Bridge in a couple of seconds.
Colorful night illuminations of the bridge
Twilight is probably one of the best times to admire the Rainbow Bridge. With 520 induction lights, placed on each sides and supplied by batteries connected to solar panels, the bridge is illuminated at nightfall by an elegant light-up that changes according to the seasons or the events.
The bridge is usually sporting a white light in summer and a warmer tone in winter. For special days such as national holidays, the anniversary of the bridge or more recently the states of emergency in Corona 🦠 times, the Rainbow Bridge is colored by several hues. The most famous combination is the rainbow colors light-up, in reference to its name.
The night show never leaves indifferent, even Tokyo inhabitants, and can be admired from the following spots:
- On Odaiba Island, from the small Daiba Park or from the Shinto shrine at the 7th floor of the Aqua City shopping mall,
- On Toyosu Island, from Gururi Park’s alleys on the seaside, with a great view on the whole structure,
- On a boat from Tokyo Bay, such as Himiko Cruise or Hotaluna Cruise that connect Asakusa to Odaiba.
On a side note, the bridge appears in the famous video game Persona 5 by Atlus.
Lastly, and if you enjoyed the experience, why not visiting another bridge crossing Tokyo Bay ? With the same huge dimensions and accessible on foot, the Tokyo Gate Bridge, inaugurated in February 2012, connects the artificial islands of Chuobohatei and Wakasu.