Walking up some rainbow stairs at the Tokyo Mega Illumi

Only 15 minutes away by train from Shinagawa Station - one of Tokyo's busiest stations - is the hidden and off-the-tourist-radar Oi district. In addition to its proximity to both Shinagawa and Haneda Airport, the most famous attraction there is the Oi Racecourse (Oikeibajo) which is a horse racing facility that provides for lots of entertainment. The racecourse recently started its light up event that is held on non-race days, the Tokyo Mega Illumi, which can be said to be the largest illumination event in metropolitan Tokyo with millions of LED bulbs lighting up the night.

Walking through the time tunnel into the past
LED rice fields twinkling in the night

I decided to spend a day in the area checking out some of the nearby sights like Oikeibajo, Shinagawa Aquarium and Big Fun Heiwajima, that are within a 15-minute walk from each other. I was pleasantly surprised at how family friendly all the places were. This day trip that I took would be well suited for families, and even those who have a late flight or an early morning one from Haneda Airport.

I started at Oi Racecourse where the parking area becomes a flea market on most weekends. The Tokyo City Flea Market is one of the few regular flea markets in the city, and there are lots of pre-loved treasures to browse through with an average of 300 stalls. As most of the action takes place under the sheltered parking area, the flea market will not be a wash in the case of light rain. Food trucks as well as light entertainment can also be found at the flea market, making it feel like an event of sorts. I found myself walking through rows and rows of stalls, spying some interesting items and unique devices from the past.

Treasure hunting
Lots of people at the Tokyo City Flea Market
Browse through all the goods
Sometimes you get to see some unusual items
You could pick up a bargain
Read a book or five
Get a new pair of kicks
More stalls on the upper deck of the car park
Great vibes all day
Won't be a flea market without browsing for music
Food trucks open for business

From there, I walked under the expressway to Big Fun Heiwajima, a shopping, dining and entertainment facility south of the racecourse. True to its name, there are many fun things to do like karaoke, soaking in a hot spring, shopping and bowling to name a few. A number of the shops are open 24 hours or close early in the morning, which makes it a convenient hang out place for those with a late or an early flight. The place was filled with locals spending an afternoon with their families, and I thought that this would be the perfect spot for those who want to experience what it is like to be a local.

Big Fun Heiwajima building and its tenants
Afternoon karaoke session
Or you could also keep going into the wee hours of the morning
The Dude abides
There was a bowling competition when I was there
Entrance to the Natural Hot Spring Heiwajima which has been around for 30 years
Rest area inside the hot spring bath

After lunch and fun times at Big Fun Heiwajima, I made my way to Shinagawa Aquarium across the water. Not to be confused with the Maxell Aqua Park Shinagawa which is a stone's throw from Shinagawa Station, the Shinagawa Aquarium is small and well-visited by locals and few tourists. The place also seemed popular with young couples on dates when I was there. Performances are held regularly, and seats for the shows are typically filled to capacity especially on the weekends and holidays. Despite its small size, I found enough interesting things to see at Shinagawa Aquarium.

Dolphin show and a packed theater
Underwater tunnel affords views of sea turtles and sting rays
Jellyfish tanks
Saw some clownfish who were pretty popular with other visitors as well
Seasonal decorations in some of the tanks, this was during Halloween
Sea lion performance

Saving the best for the last, I made my way back to Oi Racecourse to see the Tokyo Mega Illumi. The illumination event is held on non-race days and it is recommended to check the official website to be sure of the light up dates. As I approached the main entrance on the north side, it was nice to see the perimeter of the racecourse grounds lit as the sky got darker. The main attraction is located in the racetrack, and the suggested route takes one on a time travel from the past, to the present and into the future. I personally found it very interesting to see the artistic interpretations of the Edo, Meiji, Taisho and Showa periods, and enjoyed walking through time and space.

West entrance looking quite psychedelic
North main entrance
Instagram worthy carousels
Rice fields and a little stream
Wisteria flowers in the winter. Check
Illumination on the racetrack
Edo Period night views
Taisho Period design reminds me of tiles
Won't be a racecourse illumination event without horse-themed designs

A leisurely stroll through the Tokyo's largest illumination event took me about two hours. One of the attractions that delighted most visitors, especially children, were the miniature horses that were decked out in illuminated blankets. Note that these horses are currently only out on weekends and public holidays and it is advisable to check the official website to check the dates of their appearance. There were also a number of dining options not far from the main entrance as well as a bar-restaurant, the Diamond Turn Annex, which is located on the fourth floor and offers indoor seats that look down on the racecourse. Also open and free to access are the regular seats in the grandstand that provide a good spot to enjoy the lights.

Miniature horses delighting visitors
This princess here even got her mane braided
Lots of food options in the area around Starlight
Bar at Diamond Turn Annex
Window seats for the best views
I don't know how they do this, but this is an interactive light map. Images are shown when you step on the names

More than just an illumination event, the Tokyo Mega Illumi had quite an artistic atmosphere with a bit of an educational touch. I left when the sky was completely dark but all warmed up by the lights and thought that it was a good call to end the day here.

A mega tree garden that kinda looks like a Mount Fuji to me, with the Hokusai-inspired waves
Tokyo Mega Illumi at Tokyo City Keiba

Access

The Tokyo Mega Illumi is located on the grounds of the Oi Racecourse which is a short walk from the Oikeibajo-mae Station on the Tokyo Monorail (about 10 minutes, 270 yen one way from Hamamatsucho or Haneda International Airport).

Links