Northern Tokyo is usually associated with the roots of Japan; full of shrines, parks and traditional sights. However, farther the north lives commercial Ikebukuro famous for gigantic and have-it-all department stores, the epicentre of manga and anime worlds, a place where one can spend hours playing in game saloons and home to the largest electronics retailers. In short, there is so much to do one day might not be enough to full explore the area.
I tasked myself to enjoy Ikebukuro as much as I can and to visit the most recommended shops.
Right next to the train station live two enormous shopping malls.
I am a kind of person that can spend all day shopping around for one thing that I need (or maybe a few if something else catches my eye while on the hunt). But digging through fifteen floors in TOBU and twelve floors in SEIBU was way out of my league. The levels are fucking huge and stock is endless. I just couldn’t grasp it without having any agenda for the shopping. Plus those stores are dominated by japanese (or at least some unknown to me) brands offering unique assortment each that I would have to familiarise myself with.
Tip: don’t go there if you don’t know what you are looking for or you will get tired very fast!
In the middle of the Sunshine City raises the Sunshine 60 building. The number reflects number of floors. What’s better at the top there is an observation deck that you can visit. Unfortunately it’s closed until spring 2016, so I didn’t make it.
Inside though you have an array of shops, food restaurants, cafes and attractions such as aquarium, two theme parks by Namco and Pokemon Mega Centre.
The last was the store I was the most interested in. I used to be a huge fan of Pokemon and seeing all those branded gadgets, accessories, games, figures, towels, pillows and other gimmicks brought back my childhood. I loved it!
I was really looking forward to see and buy Dragon Ball or Naruto related souvenirs in the well-known Animate store, but I faced disappointment. The shop features the latest anime series raising in popularity in Japan none of which I know and, since it’s Ikebukuro, most of them are aimed at the female clientele, which is the reason I don’t know them.
Although not particularly exciting, it was interesting to traverse eight floors full of comic books, figures, paintings and videos anime themed. I can only wish it was so popular in Europe.
SEGA Games centre
After all the shopping and otaku, it’s time to have some proper fun. Make sure to visit SEGA games centre that is right in the heart of Ikebukuro. Seven floors filled with ufo catchers and gaming machines that you could never think of.
Here is me trying my luck in Dragon Ball fights. I won a few fights, though!
Ikebukuro is a great place to spend a whole day or even two. Remember that where is fun, there is food. Stop by one of those tiny izakayas (japanese food stalls) or warm restaurants and fill your tummy with delicious ramen, rice bowl topped with grilled pork or gyoza.
Most of all, have fun!