Are you not entertained?
Ikebukuro really has it all-in-one. This once small historical village, (literally meaning “pond bag”- classy) has grown into a shopping and anime paradise.
Sunshine City is one of Japan’s best shopping malls. With a great selection of brands, an aquarium and a Pokemon Megacentre (the biggest in Japan): we ask you, are you not entertained? Not only does Ikebukuro boast Sunshine City, it also has some of the biggest department stores in Tokyo making it a battleground for major company rivalries. By the station, the two grand Tobu and Seibu buildings try to intimidate each other from across the street. Bic Camera and Yamada Denki, electronic giants, trade blows near Otome Road. “Sounds kinda terrifying,” you say. “Yes, but think of all the hot deals!”, we reply.
If the Pokemon Megacentre won’t satiate your nerdy cravings then head on down to Otome Road. Butler cafes, doujinshi (self-published manga) shops and big anime/manga chains reign supreme.
This is what some people claim as the more female-friendly equivalent of Akihabara.
For those who love the boys love genre (or BL) in particular, this will be your jam, where no pairing or series is safe from the talented doujinshi artists that haunt this part of town. Fans of anime series Durarara!! can take their time exploring the familiar streets of where the series is set, and pick up some great merchandise at Animate or MOE Garden (which also specialises in Ghibli). If anime’s not your thing but you still love animation, the Disney Store awaits to make all your princess-y dreams come true.
As well as shopping, electronics and anime, it also has a lively modern and traditional culture scene. The Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space near Ikebukuro station’s West Exit has a selection of theatres and a concert hall. Street performers often grace the front of the building or can be found in West Gate Park, adjacent to the concert hall.
Ikebukuro also has it’s fair share of festivals with its main event taking place in September and October. The two-part Fukuro Matsuri is celebrated by the West Exit and during the festival, the main street, Azalea Dori, is blocked off for performances. Featuring a traditional portable shrine procession and yosakoi (a dance distinguished by the use of clappers and colourful costumes) contest, this guarantees a taste of Japan’s beloved festivals but without the hot and humid summer weather to go with it.
Ikebukuro fights hard for the title of Tokyo’s Ramen Town; the East-side area behind Sunshine city is packed with original noodle shops – you’ll know which ones are good by the dedicated queue filing out from the doorway.
Aside from “pond-bag”, Ikebukuro’s nickname is “Ike-fukuro”, fukuro meaning owl in Japanese, and numerous owl sculptures and artworks populate the neighborhood. If you want to be really local, make sure to meet your friends by the owl statue at the bottom of the stairs by Ikebukuro station’s East Exit – the cool kids meeting point – before you head out into the animania.