Ikebukuro: jaw-dropping views & female otaku culture

Mayo Harry | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Along with Shinjuku and Shibuya, Ikebukuro is one of the busiest transport hubs in Tokyo. It is located in the northwestern corner of the JR Yamanote loop line. Among overseas tourists, Ikebukuro is known for its budget accommodation options, but Ikebukuro can also satisfy your shopping, entertainment, and gastronomical wishes. It offers fashion retailers, gourmet and down-home gastronomical experience, giant electric shops, as well as otaku subculture, especially catering for otaku girls. On top of this comes some jaw-dropping views that should not be missed!

Ikebukuro is crowded with many people day and night. There are many famous department stores such as Seibu and Tobu, including "Sunshine City", a complex facility where you can play. It is also popular with overseas tourists as it is a subculture town next to Akihabara and a fierce battleground for ramen.

Tobu and Seibu department stores

© iStock/mizoula

Ikebukuro station is in the middle of the battleground of two large department stores. Tobu and Seibu department stores are located on each side of the station. Both department stores are among the biggest ones in Japan. Tobu, including a Kanji character East, is located on the station's west side, and Seibu, including a character West, is located on the East side of the station. 

© iStock/tkKurikawa

Seibu department store offers high-end fashion stores, like Luis Viton and Gucci, and it is often referred to as the Seibu - fashion orientated department. Thus, the department store basement boasts the size of 1.5 Tokyo Dome baseball stadium and has become the forerunner of the department store basement boom. On its vast grounds, many shops sell prepared foods and sweets that make you wonder which one to buy. Many shops offer sample dishes for customers to try. There are a variety of services offered by the department store, such as "Sweets Attendant" who helps you choose souvenirs with peace of mind and "Deli Attendant" who helps you find prepared foods and bento boxes to match your taste.

Sunshine City

© Wikimedia/Facial expression

Sunshine City is a large commercial facility consisting of an aquarium, an observatory, a planetarium, leisure facilities, and shopping centres called Alpa and ALTA. Alpa has about 180 shops of a wide range of genres, and ALTA has about 80 fashion stores, general stores, restaurants, mainly targeting young people. 

© iStock/gyro

The complex is famous for a 240-meter tall Sunshine 60 skyscraper and its observation deck. You can experience not only the amazing view but also virtual reality rides. There you can find a very unique interactive aquarium, the indoor theme park “Nanja Town” (which has two food theme parks), a planetarium, restaurants, hotels and more. The basic concept of the aquarium is an oasis in the sky. Time limited unique events at the aquarium are very popular, so checking online before your visit is highly recommended.  

Otome Dori, a sacred place for otaku girls

In Tokyo, there are three "otaku towns": Akihabara, a sanctuary for anime otaku boys, Nakano, a subculture sanctuary, and Ikebukuro, a sanctuary for anime otaku girls. Otome Dori on the east side of Sunshine City is considered a sacred place for anime otaku girls. The street-facing Sunshine 60 on the east exit of Ikebukuro Station is lined with shops that welcome anime otaku girls, making it a sanctuary for anime otaku girls nationwide. Recently, Ikebukuro as a sacred place for anime fans has become more established among foreign visitors.

Mutekiya, the best ramen in Ikebukuro

© Wikimedia/Wei-Te Wong

Mutekiya is a popular ramen shop with a particularly long queue in Ikebukuro, known as a fierce battleground for ramen in Tokyo. It is highly evaluated by word of mouth and is popular with locals and foreign tourists, and the number of repeaters is increasing. Mutekiya’s ramen has a reputation that it cannot be tasted anywhere else. The secret of the popularity is the soup which is carefully made with particular attention to the ingredients. 

© Flickr/linshibi

One of the reasons Mutekiya is so popular is the variety of its menus. In addition to the many types of standard ramen, there are also seasonal ramen and tsukemen (dipping ramen) menus. The second reason is the soup which is based on a special high-quality pork bone stock. Mutekiya’s soup is rich but has a light aftertaste and is full of umami. The third reason is their commitment to choosing high-quality ingredients. In addition to carefully selecting the pork bones used in the soup, the wheat used in the noodles is made from Hokkaido flour, which was grown in heavy snowfall. Mutekiya ramen can perfectly satisfy your tastebuds after hopping around endless entertainments in Ikebukuro.

Ikebukuro’s popularity has been increasing recently. It offers high-end brands at department stores, reasonable street food (including tasty ramen), entertainment, jaw-dropping views from Sunshine City, and interesting female otaku culture. So, why not spending a day and exploring Ikebukuro to experience the unique upcoming mega town of Tokyo. 

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