(ง'̀-'́)ง Call me biased but Ikebukuro is hands down my favourite district in Tokyo. Shinjuku, Shibuya and Harajuku are famous areas too but in my opinion they just don't hold a candle to Ikebukuro. Here's why.
Ikebukuro has a convenient layout.
So, I work in Shibuya Scramble Square which is basically the heart of Shibuya. And yes, there's a lot of malls and boutiques and whatever. The shops may all be centred in an area but I wouldn't say they are close to each other. For example, Ikea is just in this random area, Loft is is another random place, and the malls are all separate so you'll need to exit a building, walk, enter, and rinse and repeat. Shinjuku just gives me nightmares, the station itself is so big and confusing. I'll probably need to visit another 20 times or more before I don't get lost.
In comparison, Ikebukuro is well, super comfy. It's convenient to get around, Ikebukuro Station itself is connected to all the major department stores - Lumine, Parco, Tobu, Seibu. You can just zip over to the station, do your shopping and zip back out. Yes, there are some places you need to travel a bit to reach like Sunshine City and Animate but honestly I don't go to those places a lot anyway. It feels like Ikebukuro is the optimized version of the other shopping districts.
Ikebukuro has its own Chinatown.
North of Ikebukuro Station is a small Chinatown. Not many people really know about it, and it's way smaller than Yokohoma's famous Chinatown but it's decent. Several Chinese restaurants, grocery stores, and other facilities like karaoke bars can be found here.
There are 3 food courts in the area - 2 in the same building as Youyi Asian Market and Fei Teng Xiao Chi Cheng 沸騰小吃城 not too far away. The food courts are quite small with limited seating space so you many have to wait awhile to get seated or takeaway. You can reserve a table at Fei Teng on Hotpepper Gourmet in advance.
Looking for something? Ikebukuro probably has it.
Since Ikebukuro is a pretty major shopping district, chances are a chain eatery or shop you like can be found here. So far, the only place I couldn't find in Ikebukuro is Nana's Green Tea, the closest one being in Shinjuku (geddemit).
Places I love that Ikebukuro has!
- Izakaya Bokutachi no Toriton 俺たちのとりとん
- HaiDiLao Hotpot
- St. Marc Bakery Cafe
- Konana Wafu Pasta
- Harb's Cake
- Gong Cha bubba tea
- Pasta & Wine Kabe no Ana 壁の穴
- Shiawase no Pancake 幸せのパンケーキ
- earth music & ecology boutique
- Honey's boutique
- axes femme boutique
Places Pancake love that Ikebukuro has!
- Right-On casual wear
- Orihica formal wear
- Global Works casual wear
- Marugame Seimen
Ikebukuro has lots of entertainment!
I'll just list them all down since there's so many.
- Sunshine Aquarium
- Sunshine Planetarium - Konica Minolta Planetarium
- Sunshine60 Sky Circus
- Pokemon MEGA Tokyo and Pikachu Sweets
- Arcades, or what they call it here - Game Centers
- Otome Road - Animate, Mandarake, Maid Cafes, etc.
- Animal Cafes - Owls, otters, cats
- Livehouses - Music performances, stand-up comedy
So far, we've gone to the aquarium, karaoke, arcade, and Otome Road but I'm planning to visit the other places eventually~ 🐙