Japan Travel: A Guide to Visiting Ikebukuro in Tokyo

Tokyo is a huge city. It has expanded into several cities and has formed gigantic urban sprawls that form a single metropolitan area. When you have plans to travel to Japan for the first time, chances are that one of the places you’ll visit is Tokyo.

When planning your itinerary, add Ikebukuro to your “to-visit” list.

Ikebukuro: An Overview

Ikebukuro is a major commercial district that provides plenty of dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities. Although this district is not as popular or as large as Akihabara, Ikebukuro is a center of otaku culture.

Unlike Akihabara, though, the district caters to a female audience with butler cafés and cosplay, manga and anime shops, such as K-Books, Mandarake and Animate. If you’re looking to spend your travel money on anime or manga-related stuff but find Akihabara a little crowded for your taste, then this commercial district is for you.

Ikebukuro also has a festival that’s a hit with tourists. Fukuro Matsuri, a two-day festival, takes place in front of JR Ikebukuro Station. It features a contest on yasokai, a dance characterized by the use of colorful costumes and clappers, along with a traditional portable shrine procession.

The festival usually happens during the last weekend of September. This allows both tourists and locals to enjoy the celebration — minus the humid and hot weather of summer.

Where is Ikebukuro?

Make your way to JR Ikebukuro Station to get to Ikebukuro district. Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr Creative Commons

Ikebukuro is one of the multiple city centers of Tokyo situated in northwestern Tokyo. You’ll find Ikebukuro Station at the center of the district. This commuter station is the third busiest station after Shibuya and Shinjuku station. Before the pandemic hit, the commuter hub was handling more than a million passengers per day.

How to Get to Ikebukuro, Tokyo

You can explore this district by traveling to Ikebukuro Station, which is on Tokyo Metro’s Fukutoshin, Yurakucho and Marunochi lines, the private Seibu-Ikebukuro and Tobu Tojo lines and the JR Saikyo and Shonan Shinjuku lines. If you are coming from either the Haneda or Narita International Airport, you could take the Limousine Bus.

What to Do in Ikebukuro

Photo by Dick Thomas Johnson via Flickr Creative Commons

There’s plenty of things to do in Ikebukuro. As a down-to-earth and dynamic neighborhood, this district is full of entertainment complexes, gourmet cuisine and fashion retail outlets.

Here are a few “to-do” suggestions that you can add to your trip itinerary:

Check Out Sunshine City

Established in 1978, Sunshine City is the first “city within a city” of Tokyo. You can visit this by going to the east exit of Ikebukuro Station.

Sunshine City has shops and restaurants that are open every day. Besides that, the complex is home to the following tourist attractions:

Sunshine Aquarium

This attraction features creatures from oceans, seas and tropical forests across the globe, including otters, seals, frogs, sunfish and stingrays. You can find this on the 10th floor of the World Import Mart Building.

Namja Town

This is an indoor theme park by Namco, a Japanese multinational video game publisher and developer that created Pacman and many other arcade games. Namja Town features various attractions and small rides. It also has two popular food corners specializing in desserts and gyoza.

Sunshine 60 Observation Deck

Enjoy a view of Tokyo by paying a visit to the Sky Circus, an observation deck on the top floor of the 240-meter tall Sunshine 60 building. On top of marvelous views of the capital, you can try out virtual reality rides and other attractions in that area.

Visit Tokyo’s Evangelion Store

Are you a Neon Genesis Evangelion fan? If so, you’re going to love this place. This official store is on the second floor of P’PARCO. It’s one of the two official Evangelion stores in Japan, with the other branch located in Hakone.

You can find and buy everything your fan heart wants, including Evangelion bags, clothes and even jewelry.

Shop ‘Til You Drop for Electronics and Other Products

Besides Akihabara, you could buy electronic goods at Ikebukuro. This district has become a site of two of Japan’s largest electronic retailers:

Yamada Denki

This consumer electronics chain has a seven-story, low-rise building in Ikebukuro. Apart from TVs, PCs, digital cameras and mobile phones, you could purchase beauty products, home appliances and even Gundam products.

Bic Camera

This leading discount electronics store is perfect for bargain hunters. You can find this branch at the east exit of Ikebukuro station. Besides electronic goods, you can buy popular cosmetics and snacks at a discounted price.

Where to Stay in Ikebukuro

If money isn’t an issue, you could stay in a world-class hotel, such as in Hotel Metropolitan Tokyo Ikebukuro. Tourists can find this relaxed and welcoming hotel in the center of the bustling neighborhood.

Alternatively, you could stay in a unique lodging facility called “Book and Bed Tokyo.” The guest rooms feature the general concept of a capsule hotel, but they’re embedded in big bookshelves. While you’re relaxing at night, you can pick a few books to satisfy your reading pleasure. Although many of the materials are in Japanese, you may come across books written in English.

Wherever you decide to stay in Ikebukuro, you’ll feel glad knowing that you’ll always be near a shopping and anime paradise.

Tokyo has so many amazing tourist attractions that you need to visit. Once you’re able to travel to Japan, make sure that you check out Ikebukuro and enjoy what this funky and high-energy neighborhood has to offer.

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