Touring the popular spots around Ikebukuro Station’s East Exit, also highly recommended for social media posting!
Ikebukuro, in Toshima ward, is one of Tokyo’s major urban centers. It is a lively and bustling town, the streets of which are lined with department stores, large-scale appliance stores and various other commercial and shopping facilities. It has excellent transport access, and can be reached by JR train lines from Shinjuku in around 10 minutes, from Shibuya in around 15 minutes, and from Tokyo Station in around 20 minutes (all without any transfers). It is also connected to Narita Airport directly by both bus and train routes. Ikebukuro also offers access to not only JR train lines but also multiple private railway and subway train routes, making it a very convenient base location for sightseeing in Tokyo.
Another appealing feature of Ikebukuro is that it is overflowing with a diverse range of attractions. Some of its popular tourist spots include the Sunshine City complex, Otome Road or “Maiden” Road (popular with female fans of manga comic books and anime), and a diverse variety of famous and historic architecture and Japanese traditional gardens. All are within easy walking distance of Ikebukuro Station, enabling visitors to spend an enjoyable and richly varied time in the area.
The first place that we visit on our journey is the Sunshine Aquarium, located inside Sunshine City, around a ten-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station. The overhead penguin display-in which the penguins appear to be swimming over the rooftops of high-rise buildings-is the first attraction of its kind in the world. The sight of penguins swimming around freely overhead offers thrills and astonishment for every visitor.
In the midair corridor that extends away from the overhead penguin tank, visitors can also gaze from below at the great white (rosy) pelicans relaxing leisurely above. The image of the penguins against their skyscraper backdrop also makes for a perfect snapshot for posting on social media.
Meanwhile, the indoor aquatic animal exhibits offer a calm and relaxing atmosphere. In the “Fuarium,” visitors are soothed by the calm and therapeutic sight of lightly floating jellyfish, which can be observed from such a close distance that it feels as if you could almost reach out and touch them.
A thrilling VR experience at the Sky Circus
The next stop on our tour is the Sky Circus: an observation deck on the highest floor of the Sunshine 60 building, where visitors can enjoy trying a cutting-edge VR experience.The Swing Coaster is a park swing type rollercoaster emulator that allows visitors to hurtle through the skies above Ikebukuro, experiencing realistic sensations of height and speed similar to those felt when riding a real-life rollercoaster.
The Tokyo Cannonball Flight is a virtual tour that enables visitors to tour the famous spots around a future Tokyo from a large cannon-style machine. The wind and dynamic movements and vibrations produced by the cannon are combined with speedy VR video to let visitors taste the sensation of flying through the sky.
The “infinity scape” area lets visitors enjoy feeling as if they have wandered inside a giant kaleidoscope. Visitors begin to lose track of time as they experience this mysterious and wonderful world, with its projections of video imagery expressing Japan’s four seasons (such as the cherry blossoms of spring, and the red and yellow leaves of fall) and various geometric patterns. It is also a fantastic photo spot for taking special snapshots of the kind that cannot be taken elsewhere.
At a height of 251 meters (approximately 820 feet) above sea level, the Sky Circus also offers fantastic views of the city and its surrounding area. On a clear sunny day, visitors can see Mt. Fuji; and in midwinter perhaps even catch a glimpse of the the sparkling diamond-like Diamond Fuji.
For lunch and a quick breather, we recommend Minami-Ikebukuro Park, located an eight-minute walk away from Sunshine City. The park’s lawn-covered plaza is covered in an expanse of lush greenery throughout the year, and is a popular resting spot for city residents. You can also sit or lie down and relax on the grass. The neighboring café is also very popular, and the generous volume of its hot dog set have made it a new local institution.
After lunch, we head into the West Ikebukuro area. Also home to the Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre, the universities and artistic objets scattered around the area give the West Exit side of Ikebukuro Station something of a cultural aroma. A five or six-minute walk from the Station brings us into a residential district, where the local inhabitants live. These dynamic changes in scenery are yet another appealing feature of Ikebukuro.
In the afternoon, we take a trip back through time to enjoy historic architecture and Japanese gardens
Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan
Around an eight-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station stands the Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan (literally, the “House of Tomorrow”), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the masters of modern architecture, as the main school building for Jiyu Gakuen Girl’s School that was founded in 1921. The educational philosophy of the married couple who founded the school struck a chord with Wright and inspired him to design everything himself, even down to furnishings such as desks and chairs, and the building’s lighting fixtures. The Myonichikan is a valuable building that allows visitors to view some of a handful of Wright’s currently surviving works; and to enjoy tea in the beautiful hall with its large and impressive windows.
Each room of the building also has an explanatory signboard, complete with a QR code. Reading these codes using a smartphone or other handheld device enables visitors to listen to explanations in English and Chinese.
Meijiro Garden is situated a five-minute walk away from Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan. The garden is a traditional Japanese garden that squeezes numerous aspects of Japanese thinking with regard to nature into a limited space. At the center of the garden there is a large pond, and visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the four seasons as they stroll leisurely around it’s circumference. During spring (with its impressive shidare-zakura cherry blossoms) and fall (with its fall foliage) visitors can also enjoy the garden’s fantastical illuminated displays.
Ikebukuro offers a wealth of memorable experiences, from the latest cutting-edge VR to traditional Japanese beauty. Heading slightly further afield, there are an even wider choice of new experiences to be had, and new sights to be seen. Why not enjoy a walk around Ikebukuro yourself, using this site below as a reference to find spots that match your own unique preferences.