Ikebukuro (池袋) may not be the first district that pops up on your Google search but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth a visit! Let me show you why…
The district in northwestern Tokyo (東京) is also mainly known for its shopping, entertainment and dining opportunities. Ikebukuro Station (池袋駅) is with over 1 million passengers a day the second busiest train station, right after Shinjuku Station (新宿駅).
It has connections to 3 subway lines as well as a good number of urban train lines. Of course, it is also one of the main destinations of the JR Yamanote Line.
Directly surrounding the station, there are the two big competing department stores Tobu and Seibu. Both offer plenty of shopping and dining, so you’ll be fine choosing either one.
There’s quite a lot to do here so I’ll give you my personal top 5 list! Check it out:
1. Sunshine City Shopping Mall
Hours: 10am – 8pm daily
Sunshine City is a big entertainment complex that offers loads of activities, some of which I will cover further down below.
A main part of the complex plays its shopping department. Here, over 200 shops can be found and looked at, serving you all kinds of goodies.
It’s a city within a city which opened back in 1978. Highly recommended!
Sunshine City is located just east of Ikebukuro Station.
You can either take the Yurakucho Line (Brown) for around 1 minute and 170 Yen (1,31€/$1.55; exchange rates as of July 2018) to Higashi Ikebukuro Station and then walk around 5 minutes from there.
Alternatively, and I recommend this, you can just walk straight to it in about 12 minutes.
2. Pokemon Center
Hours: 10am – 8pm
Sunshine City also houses Tokyo’s biggest Pokemon store. Plushies, snacks, toys, everything you can imagine related to Pokemon can be purchased here.
For me, Pokemon played a big role back in my childhood so this is a very memorable place to visit. Check it out!
The Pokemon Center is located within the Sunshine city complex on its second floor.
3. Otome Road
While not as big or famous as Akihabara (秋葉原), Ikebukuro also offers a fair bit of geek culture in its Otome Road.
It is mostly leaned towards female visitors, with things like butler cafes or mostly anime (アニメ) and manga (漫画) whose main audience are women.
A wide variety of doujinshi (fan-made manga) can also be found here.
Otome Road lies just north of Sunshine City and is easily recognizable with the K-Books store all over the place.
4. Sunshine Aquarium
Hours: 10am – 9pm
Admission Fee: 2200 Yen (17€/$20)
The newly renovated Sunshine Aquarium displays creatures from waters around the world, but also from tropical forests.
Stingrays, frogs, snakes and even penguins can be found here.
The Aquarium is located on the 10th floor of the Sunshine city complex.
5. Sunshine Planetarium
Hours: 11am – 8pm
Admission Fee: Depends on your seat type and type of planetarium. There is the normal version and a so-called “Healing planetarium” which is a little more atmospheric with aromatic smells and such.
1,500 Yen (12€/$14)
900 Yen (7€/$8.20)
Up to 2 people
3,500 Yen (27€/$32)
Up to 2 people
3,800 Yen (31€/$35)
1,700 Yen (13€/$15)
Up to 2 people
3,900 Yen (30€/$35)
Up to 2 people
4,200 Yen (32€/$38)
The Healing version is specially designed for adults only. Children are not allowed unfortunately.
Yeah, the Sunshine City complex even has a planetarium! Sit down in either a regular or one of their special seats called “Cloud” or “Lawn” and enjoy the galactic view.
On a Cloud seat, “you feel like drifting in the night sky” as they describe it and on a Lawn seat, you lay down comfortably on a couch-like armchair.
The planetarium is located on the rooftop of the Sunshine City complex.
How to get to Ikebukuro
From Tokyo Station
Take the Marunouchi Subway Line for 15 minutes and 200 Yen (1,54€/$1.82).
From any JR Yamanote Station
Ikebukuro is a major stop for the JR Yamanote Line meaning it can be reached by any of its other destinations. From Shinjuku Station for example, it is a 8-minute ride for 160 Yen (1,23€/$1.45).
As you can see, Ikebukuro, especially Sunshine City, is a very fun place to be around. Of course there is stuff other than the Sunshine city to discover but because it offers so much, I mentioned my personal highlights.
Definitely walk around the area and look for the things you like best, you’ll surely find them!
While this district is not exactly as vibrant and exciting as Shibuya or Shinjuku, it comes pretty close.
You can also reach some suburban areas around Tokyo pretty easily via Ikebukuro Station.
Feel free to include these listed activities in your itinerary, I promise you won’t regret it!
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