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A Day In Ikebukuro: Enjoy Tokyo’s Vibrancy With A Neighbourly Feel

A Day In Ikebukuro: Enjoy Tokyo’s Vibrancy With A Neighbourly Feel
Rachel
Rachel
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A typical Tokyo itinerary to feel the city’s vibes includes must-see places like ultra-urban Shinjuku, Harajuku’s famous Japanese youth culture and fashion, and the premier shopping district of Ginza. Ikebukuro may not rank high on the list of go-to places for most tourists, but it is certainly as exciting to visit as the places mentioned earlier. In fact, Ikebukuro Station, a major transport hub in the district, is the second busiest railway station in Japan after Shinjuku. With six railway and metro lines serving the station, getting to one of Tokyo’s first fukutoshin (sub-metropolitan centre) is very convenient. Read this article for the top things to do to enjoy bustling Ikebukuro with a neighbourly touch in a day.

Let’s begin the day by heading to the west of Ikebukuro Station!

Located in Toshima ward, Ikebukuro is a large commercial district in north-western Tokyo, just 4 stops north of Shinjuku Station. The district is divided into 2: east and west of the Ikebukuro Station on JR Yamanote Line. West Ikebukuro is home to Tokyo’s largest department store - Tobu and the longest escalator in Japan. Let’s start the day with this interesting side of Ikebukuro.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in ikebukuro and also compare the prices with airbnbs in ikebukuro

1. Shop and dine to your heart’s content at Tobu and Lumine department stores

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The Tobu Department Store, west Ikebukuro’s landmark, is Tokyo’s largest department store. Cure your hunger pangs in the morning with the wide range of fresh food as well as Japanese and Western confectionery shops on the two underground floors connected to the station. Or you can also replenish your energy with a variety of tasty cuisines on the 11th to 15th floor of the building. After that, shop till you drop in this huge complex. From ladies’ and men’s wear to skincare and cosmetics to children’s toys and stationery and home furnishings, you name it, they have it. Next to Tobu is the 10-floor Lumine Department Store, which is equally exciting. Popular brand names here include the 2-floor Uniqlo, Muji and HMV.

Tobu Department Store (東武百貨店 池袋店)

Address: 1-1-25 Nishi Ikebukuro. Toshima Ward, Tokyo

Price: dependent on shop.

Opening Hours: 10 am - 9 pm daily (individual shop opening hours may differ).

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: connected to exit 6 of Ikebukuro Station on the subway lines.

Contact: +81 3 3981-2211

Tobu Department Store (東武百貨店 池袋店)

LUMINE Ikebukuro

Address: 1-11-1 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward, Tokyo

Price: dependent on shop.

Opening Hours: Shopping: 11 am - 9.30 pm; Dining: 11 am - 11 pm (individual shop opening hours may differ). Irregular store holidays.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: connected to exit 6 of Ikebukuro Station on the subway lines, next to Tobu Department Store.

Contact: +81 3-5954-1111

LUMINE Ikebukuro

See our full list of recommended Hotels in ikebukuro and also compare the prices with airbnbs in ikebukuro

2. Relish in the artistic atmosphere with beautiful nature amidst the concrete jungle

Source: hayainu

Just across from Metropolitan Plaza where all the commercial action is, the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre offers a peaceful artistic ambience with its large striking structure. Opened in October 1990, it is a multi-hall venue featuring a variety of music, theatre and dance performances and arts exhibitions to promote arts and culture in Tokyo. Don’t forget to check out the longest single escalator in Japan here!

Across the theatre, soak in the relaxed atmosphere at the infamous Ikebukuro West Side Park. The small park was featured in a same-name urban mystery novel series, which was later made into a popular Japanese TV and manga comic series. While the park was the hangout for youth delinquents in the series, rest assured it is safe to visit Ikebukuro West Gate Park. Many lively outdoor events are held in the park, especially on weekends. Even when there is no buoyant festival during your visit, it definitely offers a cool respite from the concrete jungle scene in Tokyo, making it a lovely place for refreshing walks.

Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre (東京芸術劇場)

Address: 1-8-1 Nishi Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward, Tokyo

Price: free admission to building, prices vary for different performances.

Access: directly accessible from exit 2b of Ikebukuro Station.

Contact: +81 3-5391-2111

Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space (東京芸術劇場)

Ikebukuro West Gate Park (池袋西口公園)

Address: 1-8-26 Nishi-Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward. Tokyo

Price: free.

Opening Hours: always open.

Access: just across from Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in ikebukuro and also compare the prices with airbnbs in ikebukuro

3. Say hello to the icon of Ikebukuro Station - the Ikefukuro statue!

Source: nyoron22

It’s time to cross over to the other side of Ikebukuro Station, i.e. the east. Return to the station to say hi to the famous Ikefukuro (owl) statue near the eastern exit. As Ikebukuro Station is huge, the statue is often used as a meeting point in the station. Find out about the origins of Ikebukuro from the information board behind the cute owl. See if you are lucky enough to get the perfect selfie in front of this iconic statue with massive crowds gathering here anytime!

Ikefukuro statue

Address: 1-28-1 Minami-Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward, Tokyo

Price: Free.

Opening Hours: 5 am - 11 pm daily (station opening hours)

Access: near exit 22 (eastern exit) of Ikebukuro Station.

Contact: +81 3-3986-3822

See our full list of recommended Hotels in ikebukuro and also compare the prices with airbnbs in ikebukuro

Proceed to the east of Ikebukuro Station, a vibrant area without Shinjuku's hectic feel

The Seibu exit at the east of Ikebukuro Station is more lively compared to the west side. Seibu and Parco department stores, BIC Camera main store and Sunshine City are the prominent landmarks in this area. Japanese anime and otaku culture is often linked to Akihabara, but east Ikebukuro is also a centre for otaku culture, particularly for the female clientele. There are also other lesser known yet equally noteworthy spots here.

See our full list of recommended Hotels in ikebukuro and also compare the prices with airbnbs in ikebukuro

4. There is more to Tokyo’s temples than Sensoji. Let's visit the unique Gokokuji!

Source: ヒロ

Mention ancient temples in Tokyo and the immediate reply will be Sensoji in Asakusa. However, there are other notable temples in the capital city too. About 20 minutes away southeast from the station lies the unique Gokokuji (護国寺) that has survived more than 3 centuries, unscathed by fires, earthquakes, and even the American air raids during World War II.

Gokokuji is a rare remaining Edo period architecture not to be missed. As you walk through its main gate to the red Furomon Gate, soak in the atmospheric feel and beauty of the azalea-lined stone steps. The main Kannon-do (Buddha Hall) and Gakko-den (Moonlight Building) are listed as National Important Cultural Properties. Every second Saturday of the month, an Antique Fair gathering about 30 dealers is held from 8 am to 4 pm. It is a great opportunity to pick some traditional Japanese items home if you are there!

Gokokuji (護国寺)

Address: 5-40-1 Otsuka, Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo

Price: 4.40 USD (500 JPY) per adult, 2.65 USD (300 JPY) per child (up to junior high school age).

Opening Hours: 8.30 am - 5 pm from March to November; 9 am - 4.30 pm from December to February.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: in front of exit 1 of Shin-Otsuka Station on Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line, or 20-minute walk from east exit of Ikebukuro Station.

Contact: +81 3-3941-0764

Gokokuji (護国寺)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in ikebukuro and also compare the prices with airbnbs in ikebukuro

5. Head back towards Ikebukuro Station with a stop at the Zoshigaya neighbourhood

In between the buzzing area around Ikebukuro Station and Gokokuji is the quiet Zoshigaya neighbourhood filled with private residences, lush greenery, as well as charming temples and shrines. You will pass through the Zoshigaya Cemetery (雑司ヶ谷霊園) as you make your way back to Ikebukuro Station from Gokokuji. Many famous people who had contributed significantly to Japan’s history are buried here, including Ogino Ginko - Japan’s first licensed and practising female physician of Western medicine and Tojo Hideki - Japan’s Prime Minister from 1941 to 1944. The spacious 10-hectare cemetery does not feel eerie at all. In fact, a stroll through the spiritual park sets your mind at ease. Even the cats enjoy relaxing in the shades of graves in the peaceful park!

Enjoy some light refreshments at the cosy Kiazuma Coffee, housed in a reformed 80-year-old traditional Japanese house. Thereafter, proceed to the nearby Kishimojindo Temple, a National Important Cultural Property. Forget about Nakamise shopping street in front of Sensoji in Asakusa, which is always crowded with tourists. Instead, stroll and shop for exquisite souvenirs along the stone paved Kishimojin Shopping Street without jostling with the crowd.

Before you know it, the ancient temple, famous for answering safe childbirth prayers, is right before your eyes. Travel back in time to the bygone Edo period within the atmospheric temple grounds. In autumn, the 600 year-old huge Gingko tree brightens up the area with a gorgeous yellow hue. Don’t forget to check out Kami-kawaguchiya, the oldest mom-and-pop candy store in Japan here too. Established in 1781, this nostalgic-looking store carries 100 types of sweets and is currently manned by its 13th owner!

Kishimojindo Temple

Address: 3-15-20 Zoshigaya, Toshima Ward, Tokyo

Price: free.

Opening Hours: always open.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 5-minute walk from Zoshigaya Station on Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line.

Contact: +81 3-3982-8347

Kishimojindo Temple (Japanese only)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in ikebukuro and also compare the prices with airbnbs in ikebukuro

6. Enter ladies’ otaku shopping haven along Sunshine 60 Dori Avenue

Source: Danny Choo

Feel the change in ambience as you inch towards Ikebukuro Station and reach the popular Sunshine 60 Dori Avenue. Find numerous anime and manga stores catering to female clientele along this street. The 9-storey high Animate building here is dedicated to countless anime-related goods for your otaku shopping convenience. Spend more time here if you love otaku culture!

Animate Ikebukuro

Address: 1-20-7 Higashi Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward, Tokyo

Price: dependent on shop.

Opening Hours: 10 am - 9 pm daily.

Access: 5-minute walk from exit 35 of Ikebukuro Station.

Contact: +81 3-3988-1351

Animate Ikebukuro (Japanese only)

See our full list of recommended Hotels in ikebukuro and also compare the prices with airbnbs in ikebukuro

7. End your day at the exhilarating Sunshine City

Opened in 1978, Sunshine City was the first “city-within-a-city” complex in Japan, an avant-garde concept in those days. The huge complex houses Sunshine City Prince Hotel, multifarious shops and restaurants, and popular attractions like the planetarium, Sunshine City Aquarium, Namco Namja Town and Tokyo Pokemon Centre.

Located on the 10th floor, Sunshine City Aquarium is an interesting aquatic zoo where you can view a vast selection of fish from all over the world. On the second floor is the Namco Namja Town, an indoor theme park that keeps both the young and old entertained. Sink your teeth into delicious dumplings from all over Japan at its Namja Gyoza Stadium. Treat yourself at Fukubukuro Dessert Yokocho, where you can find cute desserts with anime designs, alongside quirky ice cream flavours such as Beef Tongue and Miso Ramen.

Do not leave Sunshine City without a visit to the refurbished Sunshine 60 observation deck - Sky Circus. Standing at 240 metres tall, Sunshine 60 was the tallest building in Asia until 1985. Although other observation decks in Tokyo may boast more breathtaking views, Tokyo’s night view from Sky Circus is still alluring. Enjoy a romantic moment with your partner here before you call it a day!

Sunshine City

Address: 3-1-1 Higashi Ikebukuro, Toshima Ward, Tokyo

Price: dependent on shop/ attraction.

Opening Hours: refer to official website.

Access: 8-minute walk from exit 35 of Ikebukuro Station.

Contact: +81 3-3989-3331

Sunshine City

See our full list of recommended Hotels in ikebukuro and also compare the prices with airbnbs in ikebukuro

An exciting day in modern Ikebukuro

From entertainment, shopping, dining to cultural sites off the beaten track, Ikebukuro has so much to offer, you need more than a day to complete them all. It may not be as metropolitan as Shinjuku, but the commercial district is certainly not one to be dismissed. Enjoy all the convenience and fun in Ikebukuro, at a more relaxing and friendlier pace compared with other prime districts in Tokyo!

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Rachel has forgotten when and exactly how she caught the travel bug. What she does remember is the triumphant feeling she enjoys when she sees the fascinating world out there with her own eyes. She...Read more

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