Small Worlds Tokyo
The Attractive Miniature Museum in Odaiba
Small Worlds Tokyo is a theme park dedicated to miniatures, located in the Ariake district of Odaiba, on the capital’s seaside. Inaugurated in 2020, the exhibition extends on an 86,000 square-foot indoor space and displays various landscapes of Japan and the world, detailed at the 1:80 scale to the visitors’ marvel.
Small Worlds Tokyo miniature park opened for the first time to the public in June 2020, amidst the Covid-19 🦠 pandemic crisis. Sightseers can therefore discover this new address in Odaiba, as the artificial island has been undergoing major transformations since the end of 2021 summer Olympic Games 🏅. The park is located in Ariake district, half-way between the seaside shopping malls and Toyosu Fish Market.
The rather ordinary white building of industrial style architecture sheltering Small Worlds Tokyo does not make it stand out from outside; however we do recommend entering as the attraction is sure to please everyone, young and old.
Upon entering the park, visitors walk through the Gulliver Tunnel, inspired by the anime Doraemon, in which the tunnel’ users can temporarily grow to the size of a giant.
6 worlds to visit as a giant
The park is divided into 6 thematic worlds reproducing real scenery as well as imaginary landscapes, with detailed constructions and thoughtfully laid out decor elements. The postures and expressions of the miniature characters give the impression they are alive and the little cars 🚙 seem to be moving.
Right at the exit of the Gulliver Tunnel, one is thrown into the 1960s United States in the heart of a NASA’s space center. The Apollo program to land on the moon is in full swing and we can watch the launch of a Saturn V rocket ship from the control tower. The staging is incredibly realistic with the deafening noise of the engines and the rocket taking off.
Another part of this first world shows in detail a futuristic space station worthy of the best science fiction movies. Many other miniature reproductions are to be added in the future, especially a space airport.
Imaginary villages and Industrial Revolution
Then, another world displays imaginary villages with architecture both inspired by Western and Asian styles. There are also various fantasy elements in this part of the park, such as the Heroic Fantasy medieval-inspired genre, and the Steampunk trend characterized by the predominance of the Industrial Revolution.
It is quite pleasant to explore the villages on the mountain side or by the water, inhabited by imaginary creatures such as dragons and winged horses, and more realistic figures such as coal mine workers.
Based on the eponymous manga, the Sailor Moon area depicts the classy neighborhood of Azabu-Juban, located on the capital’s center south, near the Tokyo Tower 🗼.
You don’t need to know the manga nor series to enjoy the view on typical residential streets of Tokyo. It is fun trying to recognize signs and advertising lights as well as the green areas dedicated to temples and shrines.
KIX, Kansai International Airport
The model scale of the KIX airport, located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, perfectly transcribes the scenery and the ambiance of transiting by a Japanese airport. It is easy to feel immersed in the decor thanks to the sound effects of the planes ✈️ taking off and landing, as well as the detailed spaces such as Terminal 1, the boarding gates, the airport tarmac or the baggage reclaim area.
Figures of passengers waiting with their luggage and airport service technicians working on Japan Airlines planes make the display more than realistic.
The last 2 universes of Small Worlds Tokyo are themed on Evangelion, the cult Japanese animation series of the 1990s. The first model scale recreates the fortress-city Tokyo-3, the fictional new capital of Japan located in Hakone, in the mountains of Kanagawa Prefecture. Fine connoisseurs of Hideaki Anno’s work will enjoy seeing the city’s skyscrapers moving and withdrawing into the ground to protect from the Angels’ attacks.
The visit ends in the space dedicated to the humanoid creatures EVA, sheltered in the NERV underground headquarters. They are the protectors of Tokyo-3 and sent to the surface when a threat arises. The size difference between the EVA and the humans is respected in a successful scenography.
Sound and light ambiance
In addition to the rich and detailed decors, the staging of these miniature worlds is enlivened by well-done sound and light effects:
- Night and day are recreated through the lighting, and visitors are encouraged to wait for the nightfall to admire the universe in night mode.
- Sound effects provide a specific background ambiance to each world, and one can sometimes spot sounds from the daily life in Japan.
A few additional animations can be set into motion through buttons, giving life to part of the constructions.
The most curious visitors can have a glimpse on the workshop where the park’s elements and model scales are made. It is also possible to be part of the exhibition: you can have a figure of yourself modeled and displayed for one year in your favorite world among the six available.