As a birthday treat, I decided to take a trip to the One Piece amusement park in Tokyo Tower – a new opened fun-land for children and One Piece enthusiasts. However, the park is a lot more than that – it captures the essence of one of the most famous manga and anime in Japan.
But before I talk about the park, let me catch up all my readers on what One Piece actually is. Basically, One Piece is a long-running fantasy-adventure series that revolves around a group of pirates known as The Straw Hat Crew. With their captain – Monkey D. Luffy – the characters circumnavigate the world in order to find the infamous pirate treasure: One Piece. The series has a unique take on the world of pirates and its associated mythology – adding tons of weird and wonderful characters that fans all grow to know and love.
Started in 1997 by Eiichiro Oda, One Piece has grown to be the best-selling manga series to date with over 380 million copies sold. The success is generally attributed to the fantastical artwork, the outrageous humour, the quirky characters, and of course, the excellent writing. If you’re an anime fan, love adventure and fantasy, then I definitely recommend checking out this awesome anime – and if you’re already a fan, let me know in the comments who your favourite character is! (Mine is of course Luffy!)
Because of it’s success, One Piece has naturally become a huge attraction in Japan, thus spawning the Tokyo One Piece Tower park. Opened in March 2015, the theme park is located in Tokyo Tower (the red Eiffel Tower-looking thing) and costs about 3000 yen (R300) to get in.
Some people might argue that the theme park is also highly childish and that it’s insanely kitsch. However, if you know anything about One Piece and anime culture, you will know that that’s the whole point – you’re meant to enter the park with a child-like wonder and embrace all the games and attractions for all their silliness.
To help introduce you to the One Piece characters, the entrance of the theme park contains excerpts of the first scenes from each character in the Straw Hat Crew. This is before you come to a large dining hall which is decked out with (fake) food and figures of all the characters having a ball – making you feel like you’ve truly entered the One Piece universe.
But of course the Tokyo One Piece Tower is not only for looking at wax figures. Once you go to the second and third floors, you will find all of the One Piece attractions:
- Luffy’s Endless Run
- Zoro’s Sword of Edge
- Nami’s Casino House
- Usopp’s Road to Sogeking
- Chopper’s Thousand Sunny Tours
- Robin’s Finding Ponegliff
- Franky’s Ball Run
- Brook’s Horror House
Each attraction includes a fun game tailored to each of the character’s personalities and traits. You can battle zombies, slash at cannon balls, visit the Thousand Sunny ship, gamble at a casino, and much more! And it’s great trying to spot all the characters that you know and love from the manga and anime. There’s even a live show that you can line up for! (However, it does cost extra).
The attraction that I strongly recommend is Robin’s Finding Ponegliff. In this game, you get a den den mushi (snail transponder) and have to traverse the three floors finding clues hidden on the walls. Once the half an hour timer is up, you return the transponder to find out your score – and if you find all the clues, you can get a fantastic prize. It’s a fun game that really makes you feel like a kid on a treasure hunt – it’s the best!
The biggest downsides are of course the price and the fact that most of the information is in Japanese only (with very little English assistance). This is a common problem at many museums and sightseeing places in Japan – only the really popular ones have sufficient English and Japanese together. Therefore, I would recommend going to the One Piece Tokyo Tower with someone that can at least understand Japanese – or face the horror of having to use gestures throughout your visit. But if you really want to go, I do think it’s possible to make your way around the language barrier if you’re brave enough.
Once you’re done with all the fun upstairs, you can then leave the amusement park and make your way to one of two themed restaurants. The first, Sanji’s Oresama Restaurant, has an all-you-can-eat buffet, while the second one, Cafe Mugiwara, is more for relaxed meals. However, both of them are intricately decorated with One Piece memorabilia and include One Piece themed food. It might sound kitsch, but the food is delicious and both the restaurants are open to anyone – not just ticket holders!
Overall, the Tokyo One Piece Tower is a worthwhile experience – especially if you’re actually a One Piece fan. And if the cost is a bit too pricey for you, then you should at least check out the One Piece theme restaurants and memorabilia store.