From Classics to Hidden Gems! 20 Recommended Things to Do in Ikebukuro
Ikebukuro is one of the three largest sub-centers of Tokyo along with Shinjuku and Shibuya. Known both as a major business district and as a cultural city, it is a place that is filled with spots where you can enjoy dining, sightseeing, and shopping. Here are 20 select spots in Ikebukuro!
- What Sort of Area Is Ikebukuro?
- Stroll Through Sunshine 60 Street
- Go Shopping at Sunshine City
- Get to Know Ocean Life at Sunshine Aquarium
- Buy Goods at the Pokemon Center MEGA TOKYO
- Buy High-Quality Electronic Products at Bic Camera
- Experience Japan’s Anime Culture at animate
- Eat Exquisite Ramen at Mutekiya
- Rest While Reading a Book at BOOK AND BED TOKYO Ikebukuro
- Catch a Glimpse into Young Fashion at LUMINE
- Score Trendy Goods at Loft
- Enjoy Delicious Beef Cutlet at Iroha
- Watch Yosakoi at the Owl Festival
- Relax at Minami Ikebukuro Park
- Taste Popular Cakes at HARBS
- Get Products at Discount Prices at Don Quijote
- Take a Break at Ikebukuro West Exit Park
- Marvel at Stylish Items at Tobu Department Store
- Owls at Ikefukurou Cafe
- Eat Wagyu Yakiniku at Toraji
- Marvel at the Nightscape from Sunshine 60 Observatory
What Sort of Area Is Ikebukuro?
Ikebukuro is located in Toshima, which is tucked in the northwest section of the metropolis and among Tokyo's 23 special wards, is known as one of the busiest downtown areas in Tokyo. Ikebukuro Station is a massive terminal connecting eight train lines that boasts superb accessibility to other major cities in Tokyo, with a train ride getting you to Shinjuku in about 10 minutes and to Shibuya in about 16 minutes.
Ikebukuro is characterized by the markedly different vibe in the east and west sides, with the train station sandwiched in the middle. The east side is an area with rows of huge commercial complexes such as Sunshine City, as well as major electronics retail stores and large bookstores, while the west side is enveloped in an academic and calm atmosphere given its history of being an educational district that houses schools such as Rikkyo University. The Tokyo Metropolitan Theater is also right in front of the station’s West Exit, giving the area a cultural vibe.
It has also become recognized as the origin of the so-called otaku (nerd) culture in recent years, drawing a lot of attention from inside and outside Japan!
Stroll Through Sunshine 60 Street
Stretching from the East Exit of Ikebukuro Station to Sunshine City, Sunshine 60 Street is a major street in the area that embodies one of the busiest streets in Ikebukuro. This street is designated as a pedestrian paradise that is free from vehicles all day, except from late night until early morning. It is lined with movie theaters, restaurants, clothing chain stores, and other establishments, and visitors get to enjoy shopping at drugstores offering a wide array of products ranging from medicines to beauty products, health food, and daily necessities. There are also several game arcades operating in the area, so you can play with crane games, token games, and bowling, table tennis, and other sports to your heart’s content.
Go Shopping at Sunshine City
Sunshine City is an enormous commercial facility that is home to the towering 60-story Sunshine 60 building that serves as a landmark of Ikebukuro. There are two shopping centers inside this complex - ALTA and alpa - and they offer around 260 shops that include restaurants and apparel, shoe, and general variety stores. With a long list of shops that are famous with young people, Sunshine City has become the perfect shopping area for those who want to get hold of “kawaii" (cute) apparel and accessories at affordable prices.
Get to Know Ocean Life at Sunshine Aquarium
The Sunshine Aquarium in Sunshine City is a full-fledged aquarium where you can interact with marine creatures without having to leave the city. It consists of three areas: “Sky Journey”, “Waterfront Journey”, and “Ocean Journey”, with the “Sky Journey” being one of the most popular sections. The aquarium on the roof of the building can be seen from below, treating visitors to the sight of swimming penguins that look like they are actually flying against the backdrop of the city sky. There are also many other events that are held at this aquarium such as sea lion shows, animal feeding experience, and tours that will let you explore the aquarium backyard.
Admission fee: High school students and older: 2,200 JPY, elementary and junior high school students: 1,200 JPY, 4 years and older: 700 JPY
Buy Goods at the Pokemon Center MEGA TOKYO
The official shop of the world-famous game Pokemon has debuted at Sunshine City, selling not just game software and card games, but also a wide range of original goods that are only available at this Pokemon Center. With everything from stuffed toys and figurines, up to practical daily necessities, this shop is truly packed with merchandise that Pokemon fans just won’t be able to resist. You can also buy sweets and snacks that are perfect for souvenirs. Further, there are Pokemon mascots and artworks on display, so don’t forget to take a commemorative photo with them!
Buy High-Quality Electronic Products at Bic Camera
Bic Camera Ikebukuro Main Branch is located right outside the East Exit of Ikebukuro Station. The store comprises the entire building from the first basement floor to the eighth floor, with each floor offering the latest high-performance home appliances such as TVs, audio equipment, and beauty-related consumer electronics. Aside from Bic Camera’s main branch, there are also stores within walking distance that sell computers and cameras, and outlet shops where you can purchase electronics at pocket-friendly prices, so you can go around different stores in search of any product you want to buy. They also offer delivery service to the airport, so you need not worry about carrying heavy packages.
Experience Japan’s Anime Culture at animate
Ikebukuro is also an area that draws enthusiastic support from otakus who love anime and comics. At the heart of such culture is the establishment that goes by the name “animate”. Located on a side road just a few steps from Sunshine 60 Street, this store boasts a diverse selection of goods, including publications such as comics, dojinshi (publication for a particular hobby group), and light novels, as well as character goods, model figures, trading cards, and cosplay costumes. Otome Road, which is filled with stores carrying anime-related merchandise and butler cafes (where you can feel like a princess by being served by a butler), is nearby, so you should check that out too!
Eat Exquisite Ramen at Mutekiya
Established in 1994, Mutekiya is a popular ramen restaurant with endless lines of customers outside its doors. It has also become famous overseas thanks to word of mouth. Here, you can savor a bowl of ramen with rich soup that is painstakingly made using generous amounts of quality pork bones and meat, and extremely chewy and aromatic noodles made with flour from Hokkaido. Asking for a large serving of ramen is free, while kaedama (second serving of noodles) costs only 110 JPY. They also offer side dishes such as Chashu-don (roast pork served over a bowl of rice) and gyoza (dumplings). If you want to avoid the crowds, though, then you should come at around 4:00 to 6:00 pm.
Rest While Reading a Book at BOOK AND BED TOKYO Ikebukuro
Inspired by the concept of “accommodation bookshop”, BOOK AND BED TOKYO Ikebukuro is a dream hostel for book lovers who want to fall asleep surrounded by books. Here, the bookshelves are filled with about 3,500 books and magazines, including English books and Japan travel guides. You can get any book you are interested in and read it as much and as long as you want. There is no need to stay the night in order to enjoy the books, though, because you can still relax here while reading for 537 JPY (excl. tax) per hour on weekdays. This hostel has toilets and showers, and free Wi-Fi. Accommodation rates vary depending on the size of the room, but its STANDARD room comes at an attractive low price of just 4,600 JPY (excl. tax) per night.
Catch a Glimpse into Young Fashion at LUMINE
LUMINE is a major fashion building that has gained tremendous popularity from young people in their 20s. Its Ikebukuro branch is located on the West Exit side of the train station and it can be accessed directly from the station. It is packed with shops that sell items showcasing the latest trends, so if you want to know more about the fashion culture of young people in Japan, then this is where you should go! LUMINE is home to a rich lineup of shops, from select shops such as BEAMS and TOMORROWLAND, up to famous brands such as IENA, SNIDEL and Gelato Pique. There are also specialty shops for cosmetics and shoes, and a cafe where you can take a break from all the shopping, so there is no way you’d get bored even if you stay here for one whole day.
Score Trendy Goods at Loft
Found on the 9th to 12th floors of Seibu Department Store, Loft is a specialty store that carries daily necessities from various genres such as stationery, cosmetics, kitchenware, travel goods, and interior decorations. It boasts a wide assortment of products in each genre, characterized by the wide array of products that are not only practical but also fashionable. There are many products with fantastic designs that you will want to buy both for yourself and for others, so you are bound to get excited just by looking around each floor.
Enjoy Delicious Beef Cutlet at Iroha
While tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) may be famous as a Japanese dish, at Iroha, you can try gyukatsu (fried beef cutlet). Located just a few minutes on foot from the East Exit of Ikebukuro Station, Iroha is a popular restaurant that always has a long line of customers during lunchtime. It only offers gyukatsu in its menu, and you only get to choose if you want tororo (grated yam) in the set meal. The meat is served rare, but you can cook it to the doneness you prefer with the iron plate in front of you. There are seats at the counter, so there’s no need to hesitate if you’re dining alone.
Watch Yosakoi at the Owl Festival
The Fukuro Matsuri (Owl Festival), held for four days every year from late September to early October, is the largest festival in Toshima with a history of more than 50 years. The highlight of this event is the Yoimikoshi Parade (portable shrines) that showcases around 15 shoulder-borne large portable shrines. You will definitely be thrilled by the sight of more than 4,000 people carrying the portable shrines as they go around Ikebukuro at night while shouting high-spirited chants. In the last two days of the festival, Tokyo-style yosakoi (a dance that originated in Kochi) is performed on the streets, firing up the crowds in front of Ikebukuro Station.
Relax at Minami Ikebukuro Park
Minami Ikebukuro Park was renovated and then reopened in 2016. Resembling an oasis that suddenly appeared in a city full of skyscrapers, this lush lawn-carpeted park has come to be loved as a space for relaxation among local residents and tourists. Inside the park is the cafe and restaurant RACINES FARM to PARK, where you can enjoy dining in a refined space. There is a bookshop on the second floor, too, so it would be a great idea to enjoy a book with a nice cup of coffee here. This park is a place where you can forget about time and just spend a leisurely time in peace.
Taste Popular Cakes at HARBS
HARBS is a famous cafe that is constantly packed with customers who love sweets. Obsessed with the concept of “fresh”, this cafe does not freeze cakes, but serves them freshly baked daily. More than anything, though, what appeals to customers is the generous size of the cake slices. By studying the right amount of sweetness and the quality of the ingredients they use, this cafe creates cakes that you can eat up quickly even with the quite large portions. They also use fruits and ingredients in season, so you can enjoy cakes and dishes that change every season. The Ikebukuro branch of HARBS is located inside LUMINE Ikebukuro.
Get Products at Discount Prices at Don Quijote
If you are looking for products at bargain prices, then you should check out Don Quijote. This store sells huge selections of products from various genres at shockingly low prices, including foodstuff, daily necessities and consumer goods, cosmetics, branded products, electronics, variety goods, and medicine. You’d be happy to know that it has duty-free counters and is open 24 hours a day, so you can shop at any time. Aside from the branch in front of the East Exit of Ikebukuro Station, it also has the Kita-Ikebukuro Branch and the Ikebukuro Station West Exit Branch, so just drop by the store that is most convenient for you.
Take a Break at Ikebukuro West Exit Park
Located at the West Exit of Ikebukuro Station, the Ikebukuro West Exit Park is also next to the Tokyo Metropolitan Theater. It rose in popularity after it became the setting of the drama series “Ikebukuro West Gate Park” that aired in 2000, and its subsequent appearance in the famous animated show “DURARARA!!”, so it has now become a sacred place for fans. Marked by a fountain near the entrance from the train station, this park is wrapped in a cultural atmosphere together with the theater, making it the perfect place for taking a short break when you feel tired from sightseeing.
*The park is currently undergoing large-scale renovation. It is scheduled to hold its grand opening on November 16, 2019.
Marvel at Stylish Items at Tobu Department Store
Tobu Department Store is located on the West Exit of the train station, creating a perfect match for Seibu Department Store on the East Exit. While LUMINE may be for the younger crowd, this department store caters more to discerning adults and high-class customers that are obsessed with fancy and stylish stuff. Inside, you will see rows of fashionable brands such as famous Japanese ready-to-wear brands like Y’s. There is also a floor for men’s apparel, offering everything from traditional to casual clothes.
Owls at Ikefukurou Cafe
Fukuro (owl) has become the symbol of this area since it is named “Ikebukuro” after all. Ikefukurou Cafe is an unusual cafe where you can touch and interact with said owls. Step foot inside the store and you will be welcomed by more than 40 owls and horned owls. The owls that were lovingly raised by human hands since the time they were young are very friendly, so you can touch them and see them fly. Customers with reservations are prioritized at this cafe, so make sure to book in advance for a smoother visit.
*Prices: Weekdays: 1,300 JPY per 30 minutes/1,800 JPY per 60 minutes, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays: 1,400 JPY per 30 minutes/1,900 JPY per 60 minutes
Children: 700 JPY per 30 minutes/1,000 JPY per 60 minutes, with one-time capsule toy gift
Eat Wagyu Yakiniku at Toraji
If you feel like eating yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) when you’re in Ikebukuro, then Toraji Ikebukuro Nishiguchi Branch is recommended for you. A short 2-minute walk from the West Exit of Ikebukuro Station, it is a restaurant where you can enjoy yakiniku using carefully selected ingredients while seated in a chic space that is away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You should try the restaurant's specialty dish, Nama Tongue Shio (raw tongue in salt), which has been offered in generous, thick slices since it was founded. The Yakiniku Gozen set meal comes with marinated ribs, skirt steak, red meat, and prawns, and is accompanied by soup, kimchi, rice, and a smoothie, making it a really great bargain at just 1,700 JPY (excl. tax).
Marvel at the Nightscape from Sunshine 60 Observatory
The best way to cap off your sightseeing trip in Ikebukuro is to go up to an observatory and soak in the night view. If you go to the observatory on the top floor of Sunshine 60 that is 251m above sea level, you will get to enjoy a 360-degree panoramic view of the fantastic nightscape of Tokyo featuring the clusters of buildings in Shinjuku, Tokyo Sky Tree, and Tokyo Tower. The string of lights from the vehicles on the roads and the sea of lights from the buildings create a beautiful masterpiece. You'll definitely be put in a romantic mood when you see the view!
Fees (same-day ticket): Adults: 1,200 JPY, high school and university students: 900 JPY, elementary and junior high school students: 600 JPY, 4 years and older: 300 JPY
There are many places that you have to visit in Ikebukuro, so use this article as your guide for choosing the places you want to see when you make your itinerary.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
- #Aquariums | Zoos
- #Beef Dishes
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- #Sweets | Desserts
- #Visit Central-Tokyo
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- #Yakiniku | Japanese-Style Barbecue
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