Tokyo Series: Ikebukuro
Located North-West from central Tokyo, I reached Ikebukuro by taking the Yamanote Line. Fun fact, Ikebukuro Station is actually the second busiest rail next to Shinjuku Station, carrying over a million passengers in a single day. Personally, I was really looking forward to exploring Ikebukuro because it was known to be very similar to Akihabara (my favourite place in all of Tokyo), catering to anime culture and moreso towards females. With that being said, Ikebukuro has much more to offer including a great variety of shops, food, and activities to be enjoyed.
Sunshine City Mall
The malls in Japan are no joke - they house more than just retail. Take Sunshine City for example. This massive shopping complex has it all - retail, food, an aquarium, an observatory, and even an amusement park. Let's dive into some of my favourite activities that you can do all within Sunshine City.
Pokemon Mega Centre Location: 3 Chome-1 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0013 Hours: 10AM - 8PM
Fans of Pokemon rejoice! This is what our entire childhood dream has led up to. Ikebukuro holds the largest Pokemon Center in all of Tokyo. The centre is divided up into two large sections and features everything you can think of including a section for plushies, clothes, phone accessories, household items, posters, keychains and many more. The checkout of the centre is lined with Gachapon machines for your last minute lottery fun. There are plenty of photo opportunities within the centre as well, including a Pikachu riding Charizard right by the entrance, and a wall that features Pikachu himself. I lost hours in here because there was just so much to see. It is somewhere I highly recommend, as the other Pokemon Centres in Tokyo do not hold nearly as much inventory as this location.
Namja Town Location: 3 Chome-1 Higashiikebukuro, Toshima City, Tokyo 170-0013 Hours: 10AM - 8PM
Located right across the hall from the Pokemon Mega Centre sits Namja Town. This indoor amusement found on the upper floor of the mall contains over 20 attractions despite its misleadingly small exterior. Besides the indoor roller coasters, Namja Town is also home to several food stalls, including an area dedicated to dumplings from all over Japan. If you know me, you know that I love dumplings. Not satisfied? Don't worry, Namja Town also has Dessert Alley, an area made exclusively for your sweet cravings. Tickets go for 3,500 yen for access to all rides - alternative you can opt to simply walk around the park and enter for a mere 500 yen.
This street is the centre of Otaku culture in Ikebukuro. Otome road, in fact, translates to Maiden road. As I previously mentioned, the anime culture is much more catered towards women here, as a result you are more likely to encounter butler cafes, female cosplay stores, and last but definitely not least, a massive collection of doujinshi manga. If you haven't figured out what that is yet, let's just say they're a very specific type of manga that centres on the romantic relationship between two men.
Animate Location: 1-20-7 Higashi Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward, Tokyo
Hours: 10AM - 9PM
Animate is a popular brand name building in Japan that houses all things anime including cosplay, mangas, and related goodies. If you're lucky and come on the right dates, you might even run into one of the exhibitions where famous voice actors gather in this very spot! This specific building actually contains 9 floors, with the first 4 floors exclusively dedicated to mangas. On the 5th and 6th floor, you can find trading cards, stationaries, and of course a wide variety of keychains featuring your favourite anime characters. The 7th floor feature CDs, DVDs, and games for every console you can think of, and the last two floors are dedicated spaces for hosting events.
Hacostadium Cosset - Also found in the 5th - 6th floor is a cosplay studio. Here, you can bring or rent your favourite costume to do a complete photoshoot! The floor features a variety of themed rooms to give you an extensive choice of backgrounds to choose from. Why not immerse yourself in anime culture and give it a go while you're already here?
Personally, I think food in Japan is heaven. I didn't eat at a single place I didn't like. I could definitely live off their $1 onigiris. While food in Tokyo is all-around amazing, Ikebukuo in particular is home to some very unique cafes that, once again, cater to the female otaku dream. Let's dive into some of the interesting ones they have to offer.
Psycho Pass Cafe Location: 170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 3 Chome−2−１ アニメイトアネックス ７F８F Hours: 11AM - 9:30PM
The anime cafe is known to switch up their theme every now and then. When I was there in late April, they were operating a Psycho Pass themed cafe. For those that are fans of the anime, you may want to check it out. The food is typically themed after the anime, whether it be drawing the character right into the food or edible prints laid right on your omelette. You are also free to shop Psycho Pass themed keychain, stationary and posters all within the cafe. If you happen to miss this one, stop by Odaiba to see their permanent psycho pass cafe (with a killer view might I add).
Swallowtail Butler Cafe Location: 〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima City, Higashiikebukuro, 3 Chome−12−12 正和ビル Hours: 10:30AM - 6:30PM, 6:50PM - 9:15PM
Japan is known for its maid cafe. For those unfamiliar with the concept, they are waitresses dressed in overly frilly maid costumes that give you the whole 'being served by a maid' experience. Some of these cafes go as far as to offer performances for its guest, or act in a cat-like manner. On the other hand, Ikebukuro is female centred and thus we see the emergence of butler cafes. Swallowtail carries this same concept, but the waiters are dressed like butlers, giving females the very same experience of being served and treated like a princess.
Mocha Cat Cafe
Location: 〒171-0021 Tokyo, Toshima City, Nishiikebukuro, 1 Chome−15−6 豊島会館３階
Hours: 10AM - 10PM
Mocha Cat Cafe is my favourite chain of cat cafe in Tokyo. In fact, it was one of my favourite things to do when I was in Japan. After a long day of walking, it was so relaxing to stop by a cat cafe to simply lie in a hammock, read a manga, and have a couple cats nap on you. Some of the Mocha cafes offered multiple computers with various games, massage chairs, a charging station for your electronics, and designated sleeping areas with large beds. The drinks are unlimited, but because they are from a vending machine, the teas and coffee offered are very watered down. Note that Mocha is one of the more expensive cat cafes you'll find in Tokyo. I typically stayed for 1-2 hours, which costed around 2,700 yen per person.
No particular location because crane games can generally be found everywhere in Tokyo. I personally wanted to recommend checking the games in this area because here's a hint: some districts charge more for their crane games despite giving out the same prize. Here, games typically run for 100 yen per try, with a deal of 500 yen for 6 tries. In Shibuya, the same plushie could go for as high as 300 yen per try. It is my recommendation that you be aware of the prices before you spend all your money in one place.
There you have it! A comprehensive list of some of my favourite things to do while i was in Ikebukuro. This district was one of my personal favourite places in Tokyo because the culture is so distinctly focused on anime and manga - being a weeb, I was completely living for it. In all seriousness, some of these places are definitely worth checking out because it's truly an experience like no other. Please let me know if you end up trying anything from this list, and if you have, what was your own experience? Let me know down in the comments below!