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Our Favorite Things to Do in Ikebukuro

By Shiho Motomiya | June 14, 2022


Tokyo can be confusing and overwhelming with the amount of places to visit. Here are some things to do and places you need to visit when you coming to Ikebukuro (池袋) to cut down your long list. Take some notes to plan your most-awaited trip!

This article is a part of our extensive series on learning about Japan through Online Japanese Lessons at Japan Switch.

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    The History of Ikebukuro

    Ikebukuro was known before as Sugamo, where affordable land and housing were so popular. It was so popular that it attracted struggling artists and international contractors. Because there were so many foreign residents, there was little to attract tourists due to the work-related ambiance. The town Sugamo is now known as one of the youth culture hubs in north-western Tokyo called Ikebukuro in Toshima Ward. Ikebukuro is a place where a lot of entertainment, shopping, and dining opportunities can be found. 

    Ikebukuro is popular for their Sunshine City, where there are a lot of activities available. It is also known for the cheap-price hotels, shopping areas, the otaku shops or anime-related facilities, dinings, and live music area. In the next section, I will be introducing some of the popular spots in Ikebukuro. 

    Ikebukuro station is said to be the third busiest station in Tokyo after Shinjuku Station and Shibuya Station. They have over a million passengers a day. You can access Ikebukuro Station from 5 different railway lines (JR Yamanote Line, Seibu Line, Tobu Line, MarunoUchi Line, and Yurakucho Line) making it very convenient to visit. It is also the central transportation not just in Toshima but also the surrounding wards. Ikebukuro Station is 15-25 minutes away from Tokyo Station and is only 8 minutes away from Shinjuku Station. 

    Look for the best omiyage or present to give to family, friends, and your partner when you visit Japan, read Guide to Japanese Omiyage 

    Watching the Ikebukuro skyline is one of the many things to do in Ikebukuro

    Top 3 Things to Do in if You Like Anime


    If you are an anime fan there are actually a lot of places you should go to when it comes to anime attractions in Ikebukuro.

    Animate Ikebukuro


    The first in the list is the Animate Ikebukuro which is found in Higashi-Ikebukuro. An ideal place to go to with friends where you can buy something from the store and hangout by trying some anime cosplay.

    They offer a large variety of anime products for popular or more recent anime that usually cater to fangirls. It has easy access since it is near Ikebukuro station. They offer English translation in the store so there is no need to worry. Japan's first animation store debuted in 1983, offering Japanese comic books and anime on VCR cassettes.

    Throughout the store's thirty-year history, they have strived to be more than just a store, but also a cultural centre and a portal to the cutting edge of the Japanese anime scene. In Animate, they show new anime music videos and clips, and offer tickets to anime events. They run collaboration cafes where customers can enjoy themed food, drink, and decorations.

    Gamers Ikebukuro


    The second place I can recommend is the Gamers Ikebukuro, located also in Higashi-Ikebukuro. This is the go-to place for anime lovers who cannot sleep at night and are bored. They mostly offer classic anime figurines and books. The costs of the anime goods vary depending on its quality, size or brand. Store manager or store seller provide an English translation.

    Not only does Ikebukuro in Tokyo contain anime shops like Animate (which also sells fujoshi), but also Gamers where it sells items like magazines and dakimakura. Pay them a visit especially during the cold weather when you feel like eating ramen in Tokyo. According to some reviews, the store provides Bushiroad related goods such as D4DJ.

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    Mandarake Ikebukuro


    MANDARAKE began as a pre-owned manga shop in Nakano Broadway in 1987. The shop is now one of the world's largest manga and anime stores. They have visitors from all around the world who enjoy the growing popularity of Japanese manga and anime culture.

    The popular name for the western side of this area is "Otome Road" (Maiden Road). There are many shops selling products related to anime. It has rapidly become the worldwide headquarters for ‘otaku’ a Japanese word for geek in anime culture.

    Mandarake is a mega toy store chain that specializes in Japanese robot-anime/anime and toys with special effects. They also offer TV-series as motifs, anime figures, and U.S. TOY and more. The shop supply enthusiastic vintage items for collectors (over ¥1 million), out-of-print / limited editions, etc.

    A picture of two women eating at a restaurant in Ikebukuro

    Top 3 Japanese Restaurants in Ikebukuro


    If you are in the mood for Japanese food, these are the top three Japanese restaurants I recommend.

    Teppanyaki ORCA Ikebukuro


    Teppanyaki ORCA Ikebukuro is a Japanese restaurant where you will have a designated chef in front of you cooking your orders.
    Teppanyaki restaurants are popular worldwide, this restaurant is not just for family, friends, and dates but is also used for business meetings as it is a lavish restaurant.

    They offer an excellent balance of tastes that are normally hard to discover by yourself. Most guests enjoy the 1 pound lobster for two that is prepared right in front of the customer. It is only 6 minutes walk from JR Ikebukuro Station and only 3 minutes walk from the Seibu-Ikebukuro Station. 

    Although it is quite expensive, the experience you can get from this restaurant is one of a kind. The budget changes depending on the course you will order. They have tailored prices with foreign diners in mind and it runs from ¥5,000 to ¥10,000. The midpoint option is a great deal at only ¥7,000 for nine courses. There is no need to worry when you cannot read Japanese as the menus include English translation. 

    Mo-Mo-Paradise Ikebukuro Meiji-dori


    The second restaurant I recommend is Mo-Mo-Paradise Ikebukuro Meiji-dori. It is an authentic global brand all-you-can-eat
    shabu-shabu and sukiyaki restaurant. It is an open restaurant for families, couples, and friends to go to. They can also be used for business purposes as they offer private rooms. The restaurant is very healthy as they do not just offer meat, but also vegetables. Diners can choose from a variety of soups in which to boil their meat and fresh vegetables in, before dipping them a soy sauce from Shoudo Island. 

    They offer not just English menus, but 14 other more languages for their international customers who are not able to read Japanese. You can also order all-you-can-drink for only ¥1,500. They are not only budget friendly with course prices starting from ¥2,500 to ¥4,800, but also very convenient to go to as it is only a minute walk from Ikebukuro Station.

    Uogashi Nihon-Ichi Ikebukuro


    The third Japanese restaurant is called Uogashi Nihon-Ichi Ikebukuro, a standing sushi bar that family, friends and couples can visit. Most of the customers who are attracted to this restaurant are people who are looking for a hiatus during their busy days, or people who are sightseeing. 
    Because the chefs are so close over the counter, diners can chat with the chefs and even get advice on the best way to eat their sushi. It is only 4 minutes away from the station making it very convenient to go to. 

    This is a unique restaurant as there are only a few standing sushi restaurants in Japan. It is also budget friendly as one piece of sushi only for ¥75 with minimum orders of two pieces. They also provide an English menu for their international customers who are not able to read in Japanese.

    Top 3 non-Japanese Restaurants to Dine In


    For non-japanese restaurants, Ikebukuro also offers a wide range of international cuisine for those who want to eat something from their own country. These are some non-japanese restaurants you can visit in Ikebukuro.

    Cheval de Hyotan


    The first place on the list is, Cheval de Hyotan, a French restaurant that is only 6 minutes away from Ikebukuro Station Metropolitan exit. The restaurant name “Cheval de Hyotan” is from a Chinese tale. They are not a typical French restaurant that you can see in Tokyo, because they serve classic French cuisine and Japanese savory influences. This place is for family, couples, and for friends to visit. It is also available for business meetings and other kinds of business matters. 

    They have a reasonable prices for their lunch courses, the price starts from ¥2,800 to ¥6,800, and for their dinner courses, it starts from ¥6,800 to ¥9,800. Wines available and they offer mostly French and Austrian wines as these wines go well with the French delicacies.

    The restaurants are very international friendly as they not only offer English menus but their staff are also capable of serving customers in English. They also offer take home, the shop Peche de Hyotan which is across the street that offers some of their popular dishes.

      

     

     

     

     

    THAI STREET FOOD Ikebukuro


    Next on the list is THAI STREET FOOD Ikebukuro, a Thai restaurant for friends, family and also couples. It is very convenient to go as they are only a minute walk away from the Ikebukuro Station and are located in the basement of Tobu Department store. They offer healthy Thai foods with reasonable prices starting from ¥1,000~ during the day, and ¥3,000 ~ ¥5,000 during the night.

    Just like Cheval de Hyotan, they also offer English menus and have English speaking staff. The chefs as well as the staff working here are from Thailand so you will definitely get an authentic experience! The company behind this shop specializes in spreading Thai food, culture and other more ways to make people more interested in Thailand.

    Din Tai Fung Ikebukuro


    The last place is a Chinese restaurant that is popular worldwide, Din Tai Fung. 3 minutes walk away from Ikebukuro Station, the popular Taiwanese dim sum restaurant has 20 branches in Japan. They target family, friends, couples and are also available for business purposes.

    The price starts from ¥2,000 ~ ¥3,000 during the day and ¥4,000 ~ ¥5,000 during the night. Just like the two restaurants before, they also offer English menus and have English speaking staff for their international customers.

    Visiting a Planetarium is one of the best things to do in Ikebukuro

    Top 3 Things to do in Ikebukuro With Your Family, Friends, and SO.


    There are a lot of activities you can do in Ikebukuro here some popular places you need to visit. 

    Ancient Orient Museum


    Ancient Orient Museum that both families and couples are able to enjoy and participate in. The Museum acquires, conserves, and shows artefacts with historical, aesthetic, and archaeological value for the public. Every year, they add many close-up exhibitions to the Museum exposition.
     It is very convenient to go as it is only a 6 minute walk away from Higashi-Ikebukuro Station, Yurakucho Line or a 15 minute walk from Ikebukuro Station, East exit.  

    Their price varies depending on the status of the person, their entrance fee are: ¥600 for adults, ¥500 for high school students and college students, and for grade school students and middle school students it is only ¥200. They need students to show their IDs when paying for tickets. The museum also offers campus partnerships, where students and staff from specific universities are free of charge.

    They offer short guides in English for their international visitors. Their current exhibition has seven sections which are, An Expanding World and East-West Interactions, Ancient Iran and Neighboring Lands, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Mesopotamia, Excavations in Syria,  and The Earliest Orient World.

    KONICA MINOLTA Planetarium “Manten” 


    The second place is KONICA MINOLTA Planetarium “Manten” in Sunshine City. Family, friends, and couples can enjoy this place. It is a
    planetarium that displays a realistic starry sky using the latest technology. You can enjoy various elaborate works such as videos created in collaboration with artists and a healing planetarium that combines the visuals with fragrance.

    The position of the stars on the ground can be accurately reproduced, so you can enjoy a more realistic view of the night sky. The center of the dome provides an overwhelmingly immersive experience, while the rear of the dome allows you to enjoy the entire work. The location is quite far from the station as it is a 10 minute walk. 

    The prices are also expensive as for their planetarium, the premium seats: lawn seats are ¥3,500 per seat, cloud seats are ¥3,800 per seat, and for their regular seats, for adults is ¥1,500, and for kids is ¥900. For their healing program, for their premium seats: lawn seats are ¥3,900, cloud seats are ¥4,200 per seat, and for their regular seats they offer grade school students and adults for ¥1,700.

    After visiting the planetarium, you can go to the “Manten Shop” where you can get some souvenirs. They also offer English audio guides for free for non-Japanese speakers.

    Round 1 Ikebukuro


    The most popular arcade in Japan, Round 1 Ikebukuro. You can enjoy karaoke, bowling, darts, pool, and different kinds of arcade games in Round 1. It is only 4 minutes walk away from the station making it very convenient to visit. This place is for everyone to enjoy. Unfortunately, there are no English instructions for their international customers. The prices are reasonable and the price range changes during the weekends.


    Want a guide on which amusement park in Japan you should go to? Check out Ultimate Guide to Amusements Park in Tokyo


    A picture showing Japanese wish writing tradition

    Top 3 Places to Appreciate Japanese Culture


    Japan is very popular with their historical places. If you are planning on going to a Japanese place and appreciate Japanese culture, here are some places you can go to.

    Rikugien Gardens


    First on the list is the Rikugien Gardens, created by Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu. The Rikugien garden has been counted as one of the two major gardens in the Edo period. Along with Koishikawa Korakuen, the land was given to the creator by the fifth shogun of Edo, Tsunayoshi Edogawa. The Rikugien Garden reflects Yoshiyasu's knowledge in literature through its delicate design.

    Although you need to take the train to Komagome Station, it only takes 6 minutes away to go and is only a 7 minutes walk. They provide garden guides for the internationals every first and third Sundays of every month.

    Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan


    The next place is Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan. This old school is well worth it if you appreciate good architecture and like Frank Lloyd Wright. He designed the major building to give students free education in a home-like atmosphere. You can take a tour of the surroundings and facilities, as well as a biography and exhibit on Frank Lloyd Wright.

    The complex of four buildings features a central double-height section with soaring windows facing onto an open courtyard. I would definitely recommend it. It is a bit hard to find as it is nestled in a residential neighborhood, but it is only a 5 minute walk from Ikebukuro Station. English pamphlet that has information about the place can also be recieve. 

    Homyoji Temple


    The last place is Homyoji Temple. The temple is founded in the first year of the reign of Emperor Saga (810 A.D.) as "Weiko-ji Temple''. In 1312, Nichigen Shonin, renamed the temple Ikeizan Homyoji Temple. It is convenient to go as it only takes 10 minutes from Ikebukuro Station by foot. Although there are no pamphlets given when visiting the temple, the temple is free to visit.


    Know more about Japan’s temples and shrines in Tokyo: Ultimate Guide to Shrines and Temples in Tokyo


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    Top 5 bars to in Ikebukuro when you want to drink out


    If you want to experience the nightlife in Tokyo or if you are in a mood to drink out while on a trip, here are 5 bars you can go to in Ikebukuro.

    THE CRAFT COCKTAIL TOKYO


    THE CRAFT COCKTAIL TOKYO is a budget friendly restaurant that has an average consumer price of ¥4,000 to ¥4,999. It is only a 3 minute walk from the station. They serve some delectable cocktails that will lift your spirit up. A place where you can experience a new kind of entertainment that breaks the conventional concept of seeing, drinking, eating and delicious food on the counter. That is the evolutionary creative cocktail bar.

    This place is a hidden gem! The cocktails are fancy and creatively odd which makes them even better. Some people even say that there is a uniqueness in their cocktails, the ambiance of the shop is super relaxing with calm and friendly staff. As for their international customers, they say that this place has (delightfully) gimmicky drinks made with dry ice, flames and floating ducks. 

    Bar King Rum


    Bar King Rum is dedicated to both the Caribbean's signature rum and the region's musical genre. A 15 minute walk with an affordable price that ranges from ¥2,000 to ¥2,999. With close to 350 different bottles lining the shelves behind the bar, yet is hard to find a better rum lineup anywhere in the city. It is a cozy bar where you can get along quickly even if you are new to the place.

    For those who want to double down on their poison, they offer Cuban cigars. It's difficult to express how relaxed the vibe is here.

    Shotbar MAO Ikebukuro


    Shotbar MAO Ikebukuro is one of the top rated places listed as Dive Bar in Toshima. It is a bar that you can casually drop in because it is just around 7 minutes away from the station. A budget friendly bar where you can enjoy delicious sake and conversation. Relax and heal the tiredness of the day by immersing yourself in the world of alcohol. 

    SHOTBAR MAO has a concept tailored to the location. You can create the style of the store according to your request, such as only a counter and a dart bar.

    BAR ACE


    The BAR ACE is a fascinating bar filled with adult entertainment, right next to the Echika C3 exit at Ikebukuro Station's west exit (3 minute walk from Ikebukuro Station). Where you can stop on the way home from work or shopping. When you enter the store, you can experience a sophisticated space with a pleasant darkness. They have a large selection of high-quality single malts, as well as aroma cocktails. It's a bar for 10 and 20 years of age, and the taste improves with time.

    For men's dates, anniversaries, and conversations. Even though it is located in the city, it transports you away from the hustle by utilizing natural wood to create a space with a profound feeling. The bar has a retro wood grain interior, and it is spacious and ingenious. Make a reservation not only for one person but also for group customers. 

    Nonsuch Bar


    Nonsuch Bar is a bar located also in Ikebukuro in Tokyo. It
     offers British beer, real ale beer, relaxing space of UK music, rock bar. You can drink delicious craft beer, craft beer bar while listening to maniac music. The shop is just a minute walk away from the train station. Nonsuch is a lively craft beer pub in Ikebukuro. They specialize in English local beers and music.

    Encounter with an unparalleled glass of beer, encounter with the sound of an unparalleled song, encounter with an unparalleled smile. There are a lot of unparalleled things in a place called "NONSUCH" that you cannot compare to anything.


    Want a guide about nightlife in Tokyo? Read Ultimate Guide to Tokyo at Night 

    4 Heads Up You Need to Know When Going to Ikebukuro


    Ikebukuro is actually a really nice place to go to, but you won’t enjoy such a place without experiencing challenges when you roam around. It's not about scaring you or making you feel uncomfortable but here are some heads up you need to know.

    We all know that Ikebukuro is one of the busiest places in Tokyo. It means that there will be many people, especially on the public transportations. Trains are the fastest way to get home, go to work or go some places. Thus, people in these transportation are really fast to ride, especially on the last trains.

    Secondly, as mentioned that many people prefer trains rather than buses, making the station massive. So, make sure to fall in the right lane and don’t even hesitate to ask for some help. Stations can be very confusing sometimes especially with tons of exits provided. So, make sure to know where you need to exit. Last but not the very least, be careful of the shady areas. Although it is always a careful act to be in a place with a lot of people, make sure also to keep your things attended.

    Passengers on a train at the Ikebukuro Station

    Conclusion


    Ikebukuro offers tons of activities for people to enjoy the place, whether they live nearby or just visiting. But in order to fully enjoy Ikebukuro, make sure to take advantage of what they offer.


    Planning to visit other famous places in Japan other than Tokyo? Check out Top 18 Things to do in Kyoto

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