A Self-Guided Day in Ikebukuro

Walk around Tokyo's up-and-coming west side

By Serena Ogawa    - 4 min read

Ikebukuro is a lively area of Tokyo that often gets overlooked in favor of its popular neighbors. However, with dozens of options for shopping, food, sightseeing, and activities it should definitely be on your bucket list for the capital.

Located in west Tokyo’s Toshima ward, Ikebukuro is the third busiest station in Japan and offers the modern-day traveler tons of fun, whether solo, a couple, a group of friends, or a family outing.

With a name that references the ponds that once dotted the area (池袋 Ikebukuro literally means pond bag), the area has now been industrialized for business. Today, travelers will find the Sunshine area a joy to visit, in addition to being the setting for many pop culture icons (the hit anime Durarara!! takes place in Ikebukuro).

A few hours spent wandering Ikebukuro makes for a fun time!

Ikebukuro Walking Route

Leave Ikebukuro Station from the east exit and begin with:

Mutekiya Ramen

Some of the best ramen!
Some of the best ramen! (Photo: Mutekiya – ray3909 / CC BY 2.0)

Arrive before Mutekiya opens if you want fast service. Otherwise, be prepared to line up outside of this delicious ramen shop front for 10-15 minutes. By no means large or even well known, but Mutekiya is a local favorite. With its rich tonkotsu broth and thick-cut roasted pork topping, be prepared for a creamy and garlic-rich lunch. It might not give you the nicest breath but you will feel oh-so-satisfied and full for the rest of your adventure!

1-17-1 Minami-Ikebukuro / A 5-minute walk from Ikebukuro Station / 10:30am–8pm / Homepage

Don Quijote East Ikebukuro

Get ready to shop!
Get ready to shop! (Photo: Don Quixote – Wally Gobetz / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Whatever it is you're looking for in Japan, chances are that Don Quijote has it. Seriously! The chain of stores is massively popular as an everything shop stop. From snacks, knick-knacks, meals, souvenirs, clothes, and so much more, Don Quijote has your back. That being said, the aisles are narrow and the store can be quite crowded. Either way, get ready to drop some yen and find some mementos of your time in Japan.

1-22-5 Minami-Ikebukuro / A 4-minute walk from Muteki-ya Ramen / open 24 hours / Homepage

Sunshine 60 Shopping Street

Sunshine 60 Street has it all
Sunshine 60 Street has it all (Photo: Sunshine 60 Street – Masahide Kanzaki / CC BY 2.0)

With a little bit of everything, the 200-meter long Sunshine 60 Shopping Street is a popular stop for visitors to Japan. If you're looking for a cat cafe, they've got one. Or maybe upgrade to a river otter cafe? Yes, it has that too. Used book stores, movie theaters, and shoe stores also line the street. And if Mutekiya Ramen wasn't your cup of noodles, you can definitely find a replacement bite to eat here!

A 3-minute walk from Don Quijote / Most shops open 11am until around 7 or 8pm.

Sega Ikebukuro GIGO

Sega Gigo is a huge game center where you'll spend a lot of time!
Sega Gigo is a huge game center where you'll spend a lot of time! (Photo: Sega Gigo – DocChewbacca / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Games, games, games! It's time to get your gamer soul going with the awesomely fun games at Sega Gigo. This game arcade has it all. Catch your own prize at the UFO catchers or claw machines, all stocked with popular prizes and sweets that will make your mouth water. Or race Mario-style in the driver's seat against your friend. Rhythm games and coin games, sticker photo booths (purikura), and more await you in this huge gaming paradise.

1-21-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro / A 3-minute walk from Sunshine Street / 10am–11pm / Homepage

Sunshine City

Fly high with penguins and more in Sunshine City!
Fly high with penguins and more in Sunshine City! (Photo: Totti / CC BY-SA 4.0)

Oh, goodness! We are finishing this stroll through Ikebukuro on a big note! Sunshine City is famous for having some of the best attractions in the area. Check out their observation deck for a great view of the cityscape, day or night. Visit the Sunshine Aquarium for a fun time with penguins swimming overhead and other ocean critters. Namja Town is perfect if you lust for still more gaming while the Konica Minolta Planetarium is a perfect place to rest your feet and engage your mind. There are also so many shops and restaurants that you could easily spend the rest of your day whiling away the time here.

3-1 Higashi-Ikebukuro / A 5-minute walk from Sega GIGO / hours vary from shops and attraction / Homepage

Ikebukuro is full of many more fantastic locations to visit and restaurants to enjoy, deviate from this plan and create your own adventure in this underrated part of Tokyo!

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Serena Ogawa

Serena Ogawa @serena.ogawa

Travel Editor for Japan Travel by day, novel-writing cat lady by night.

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 2 weeks ago
Great guide! I did a lot of walking in Tokyo. Step out of a station ticket gate with just a few destinations in mind and just wander.
Elena Lisina 2 weeks ago
Ikebukuro was the place where I stayed on my very first visit to Japan. I found it complicated and was lost few times on the way to my hotel! :)
Elena Lisina 2 weeks ago
I wonder why they don't give names to streets? That would be very helpful!
Kim 2 weeks ago
So much to do in this part of the city.
Sleiman Azizi 2 weeks ago
An underrated urban area of Tokyo!