The Sunshine Centre in Ikebukuro is a monolithic complex housing various restaurants, shops, ice cream parlours and popular tourist attractions though what drew me was the aquarium. Even if you have never walked around Ikebukuro before, directions to the centre are sign posted along the route so finding your way is no trouble. Once I had arrived I couldn’t resist exploring the Sunshine Centre first and visited Namja Town.
The aquarium is advertised all over the centre and it’s no surprise why. As soon as I entered I was instantly in awe as I’d completely forgotten the wonders of such a place. A dimly lit room, illuminated only by tanks full of strange sea creatures makes it seem like you’ve entered another planet. The aquarium has a few slightly uninteresting small displays to begin with but this soon changes and the fish grow to tremendous sizes after just a few steps.
The first floor features animals from the oceans of the world and signs on the walls gently guide you through so you can easily enjoy all the tanks. From sharks to jelly fish and even creatures you have never seen before, the aquarium is extremely creative in the way it display them. Using colourful lights and sounds there is almost a science fiction like atmosphere as you walk around. Of course this makes for some really interesting photography but make sure to take note that using a flash is forbidden.
The second floor starts with an array of freshwater fish in a small replica of the Amazon basin. This was absolutely fascinating as it was so close to a natural habitat it takes you momentarily to South America. In keeping with this type of biome the aquarium also houses various species of amphibians, some lizards and even tortoises. The area is slightly smaller than the floor below but still extremely interesting. Once exiting through the gift shop the aquarium actually continues until the exit with a display of sea lions, penguins and some exotic birds in an open courtyard.
While the ¥1,800 entrance fee seems expensive, I was so glad I’d visited. One thing I noticed was the abundance of couples visiting. It makes a great day out for all but for those looking for a spot to take a date in Tokyo it’s particularly worth considering.