While the town of Ikebukuro in west Tokyo is interesting in its own right, many people don’t know there is a vast + interesting underground area below the city.
Most of it is shopping, of course, including the mixed-use Sunshine City at the east end.
But there are loads of other goodies to be discovered beneath the streets – including the ISP and Echika centers. On the west side of the station is a street entrance to TOBU Hope Center – an oddly named shopping area underneath the station which extends southwest into the basement of the TOBU department store (depato, in Japanese).
One can spend hours under here roaming around, so next time you’re in Ikebukuro, check it out.
At the very east end of the town is the oddly named Sunshine 60– the tallest building in Ikebukuro, but underneath, to the east of the actual building is an an underground shopping mall called Sunshine City. The place is vast and you can walk around for hours and not see it all. The entrance is just on the east end of Sunshine 60 Street, on the south side of the street.
As a historical footnote, at the end of World War 2, Imperial Japanese Army General Hideki Tojo was executed at the site where Sunshine 60 now stands. The building is said to be haunted by many Tokyoites, and several Japanese have committed suicide by jumping from its rooftop.
It turns out the ISP complex is especially vast. There are 3 entrances: 2 on the east side of the station just outside, and 1 inside before the east exits. The complex extends all over the east side of the station below street level. There’s a floor guide.
ISP entrance across from JR Ikebukuro Station. The large Bic Camera is straight ahead.
TOBU Hope Center
TOBU Hope Center extends below the west side and under the central part of the station. There are 2 entrances: one just outside the west exit (directly across from the JR Service Center), and one inside the station. While not as upscale or elegant as Sunshine City or ISP, it’s still worth a look.
There is also a separate food basement (depachika) in TOBU which is quite good.
There are also a lot of coin lockers near the underground entrances to Hope Center.
Perhaps the best + most upscale of the underground supermalls in Ikebukuro is ECHIKA Ikebukuro – another vast and upscale mall. There is a long food court tunnel which has endless smaller food shops as well as a larger mall area. Definitely check this one out.
A must see in the Echika food court corridor is Mr.WAFFLE. Some of the best waffles in Ikebukuro – a definite must-try.
On the west side, the ECHIKA complex also extends to the Esola complex, which also has a Metro entrance just outside, although underground you have to walk 2 long empty tunnels to get to it.
As a footnote, most of the Metro subway line platform entrances are in the ECHIKA Ikebukuro floor level underground.
Esola complex on the west side of the station. Note the Metro entrance.
Food seller under Ikebukuro Station.
West side of JR Ikebukuro Station. The TOBU Hope Center entrance is on the right.
Another quick tip is if you find Ikebukuro Station crowded, you can go downstairs below the normal station level and walk underground in nearly empty tunnels, all of which have signs for platforms + station exits. There’s almost never anyone in the tunnels.
If you’re ever in Ikebukuro, be sure to drop below street level and check out a whole hidden world full of delights.
Ikebukuro is a hip, quirky hang out spot in central western Tokyo. Smaller than Shibuya or Shinjuku, it’s often overlooked by tourists. Ikebukuro has a fun small-town vibe, yet still feels cosmopolitain enough to be exciting. There is more than plenty to do. In fact, you could spend a few days in Ikebukuro and barely scratch the surface. Around every corner + down every side street is something surprising + interesting. The fact that it’s not overcrowded the way other major areas of Tokyo are only adds to it charm.
The main station is located in the 1st floor + basement of the PARCO depato (department store) in the main station. The Metro lines also exit this station. Just to the south in the SEIBU depato is the Seibu Ikebukuro Line Station. All of them are centrally located in Ikebukuro and are very convenient. There are also several street-level station portals on sidewalks all over the town as shown here:
One of many street-level station entrances.
On the JR Ikebukuro platform, you can purchase a Suica IC card for fares from these machines.
Ikebukuro is centrally arranged with an east, west, north, and south side. The stations are on the main thoroughfare running north-south through the town. The station in the photo above is in the center, the main street is just to the right running north-south, West Gate Park is to the left, center. At the very top center is a huge waste recycling plant with its telltale tall cracking tower.To the east are a dizzying array of side streets with endless shops + restaurants. Just to the east of that out of frame is the Sunshine City complex and 2 Ikebukuro parks (Minami-Ikebukuro Park).
View from the WTC building in west Tokyo facing west: Ikebukuro is the small city in the distance on the right, Shinjuku several miles to the south is on the left in the distance.Just behind Shinjuku, barely visible on the left is Mt. Fuji.
The town is roughly divided into east, west, and north ends. The south end holds a few interesting spots, but as soon as you leave the main area east of the station, it’s mostly residential. You can get from the east side to the west and vice versa by passing directly through the center of JR Ikebukuro Station.
West Gate Park
At the West Gate Exit is a popular meeting spot called West Gate Park. The area was also the title of a popular dorama (drama) TV series in Japan. Also in West Gate Park just to the north of the west gate is a JR Tourist Information Office – which has English-speaking staff. You can also reserve bus tours in the office.
West Gate Park is a large area to the west of the station. There are all sorts of restaurants, cafés, shops, and other attractions. About a block further east are a Bic Camera annex and a block beyond that a OIOI (pronounced Marui) depato. In the OIOI is a very nice Seria 100¥ shop.
Just to the south of West Gate Park is a new outdoor performing art center called Global Ring. It was finished in 2020. There is also a café here. Further south is the Metropolitain Theater. 1 block south of that is a very nice MOS Burger.
Also in West Gate Park is a street entrance to the oddly named underground shopping mall Hope Center.
To the north of West Gate Park are endless backstreets. If you head northeast in this direction, you come to a small tunnel north of the station which heads to the east side of the town.
Also on the west side, a few blocks north of the OIOI is the world-famous Sakura Hostel – which although spartan is known for its dirt cheap prices, and fairly clean atmosphere. If you want to stay cheap in Ikebukuro, this is your spot. Sakura Hostel is also known for its huge outdoor seating area for guests. You don’t get much in the way of ammenities – most beds are mere bunks in shared rooms, but for the incredibly cheap price, it’s worth it.
Ikebukuro is also home to some of the largest electronics shops in Tokyo – including Bic Camera, Yamada Denki, and Sofmap.
Just south of West Gate Park is a shopping area called Esola. Check out the Coffee RoastersLaboratory on the ground floor. There’s also another Metro entrance here. Just beyond Esola is the LUMINE complex and MOS Burger.
Here are a few photos from the west side:
Ikebukuro West Gate Park. The JR East Travel Service Center is straight ahead.
JR East Travel Service Center
Just south of West Gate Park facing north. Turn left at the next street for OIOI City and the Sakura Hostel.Flip 45 degrees left from this image and you will see Global Ring on your left:
Facing west, the Metropolitan Theater is the bldg. with the sloped roof straight ahead.The 2nd Bic Camera Annex is the bldg. on the far right.Global Ring is on the far left.Global Ring was built on the real former Ikebukuro West Gate Park – an area which previously had a large fountain. Now the entire area has been replaced by Global Ring.
Facing southeast from the Global Ring area. The Esola complex is straight ahead.The MOS Burger is 2 blocks to the right.
Just beyond Global Ring is the Esola complex (left) and LUMINE (right). LUMINE + TOBU complexes have excellent food courts on their top floors. Don’t miss ’em.LUMINE was formerly called Metropolitain Plaza.
Inside the station.
On the JR Saikyo Line platform behind the PARCO depato.
OIOI City west of the station facing west. Turn right here for the Sakua Hostel.
The west Bic Camera Annex a block east of OIOI City.
East Side – Endless Shopping + Restaurants + Sunshine City
The east side of the station is considerably more interesting. Not only is there a main street which runs north to south which has a myriad of shops, cafés, and resturants on it, but there’s an entire area east of that that is really interesting (Sunshine60 Street).
There’s PARCO + SEIBU depatos, and Bic Camera and other denki (electronics) shops on the north end of the street, but the south end of the street also has lots of coffee shops + restaurants.
To the far east of Sunshine60 Street is a huge skyscraper and complex called Sunshine City. The area’s big attraction is Sunshine 60 – which until recently was one of the tallest skyscrapers in Japan. It has a top-floor observatory not to be missed. There is also a western Mailboxes Etc. CMRA on one of the top floors if you need to get a local mailbox or mail anything to the west.
Hidden away in the basement of Sunshine City is a vast mult-floor shopping mall. You can spend hours in here – and it’s so huge it’s easy to get lost. There is also another entrance to the mall on the east end of the major side street next to the the Tokyu Hands store.
As a historical footnote many locals believe Sunshine 60 to be haunted because after World War 2, the Japanese imperial army general Tojo was executed there. Several Japanese have committed suicide by jumping from its roof. There is also a very nice small park next to the area where you can kick back and chill. Sunshine City is around 35°43’45.15″ N 139°43’05.09″ E.
Entrance to Sunshine City Annex on Sunshine60 Street.
To get to Sunshine60 Street, head south from JR Ikebukuro Staiton, turn left (east) at 35°43’48.45″ N 139°42’46.56″ E 2 blocks down, follow the sidewalk as it winds east, then cross at the Milky Way Café and head straight. Make note of this sidewalk and the small alley off it to the left for later below
This puts you right into Sunshine60 Street – the main shopping street. As you come to the end, turn right, then left again for Sunshine City. There is also an entrance to the underground mall part of Sunshine City about a block before the final right turn. You can’t miss it – it has a huge sign on the front of the bldg. next to the Tokyu Hands depato also on the right.
Main street in east Ikebukuro. Meiji-Dori runs north-south. The JR Ikebukuro Station is up on the left.The white bldg. with the red sign on the left is Bic Camera.Just to the southeast is Yamada Denki (LABi). SEIBU + PARCO depatos are on the far left of the frame above the stations. The street to the left of Bic Camera leads to dozens of other interesting side streets on the north side of town.
A closer view of the PARCO bldg. on the east side. The JR station entrance is at the bottom of the bldg.
There’s also a Becker’s burger place just at the east exit of the station.
SEIBU Ikebukuro Station just south of the JR entrance above.
If you head down this street just across from the JR east station exit, you will discover a wealth of interesting small side streets.
Entrance to Sunshine60 Street @ the Milky Way Café, right.At the end of this street turn right for Sunshine City.
New South Ikebukuro Park
Around 35°43’41.35″ N 139°43’17.74″ E – just east of Sunshine City is brand new SouthIkebukuro Park. Completed in 2020, this stunning new park offers a huge green lawn, a café on the north end, and a large bike parking lot to the south. It’s just 1 block east of Sunshine City so if you’re in the area, check it out:
The underground bike park just to the south of SouthIkebukuro Park.
Ikebukuro Shopping Plaza (ISP)
In the basement of the station and under the east side of the streets is a small mall called Ikebukuro Shopping Plaza (ISP). There are portals to ISP in the station just before the east exit, as well as one on the sidewalk outside the station and in the middle of the crosswalk facing east. Most of ISP is underground.
About 1/2 way down the main side street to the east is another new complex called Q plaza. Well worth a stop. Lots of good cafés, and a CAPCOM store + café on the 4th floor. The sides streets all around this area are charming to explore and worth a walk. Plan on spending a whole day in the area.
There are endless food options around Ikebukuro. 2 really awesome places are Darcy’s Beer + Burger and Coffee Valley. Darcy’s has a triple-decker hamburger that is out of this world for $12. Not to be missed. We did a review of both places above. There are also no less than threeMr. Donut places around town – 2 on the West Gate Park side, and 1 older one tucked away on a backstreet on the east side. Not particularly healthy, but delicious. There are also endless ramen and yakiniku (steak) places, and of course, the aforementioned MOS Burger. There’s also a Tully’s Coffee in Q plaza as well as a nice café called Peace and Lamb.
Japan’s food courts are a throwback to 1950’s-style dining. There are some on the top floors of depatos such as TOBU + SEIBU, and there are other standalone bldgs. which are all restaurants top to bottom. There’s no lack of good dining in Ikebukuro. In particular the food court in TOBU Ikebukuro is awesome – there’s a really great Hawaiian burger place, and lots of other restuarants. PARCO also has a food court + rooftop beer garden. Of course there are endless ramen and yakiniku (steak) places everywhere. As well as fast food.
TOBU also has a basement Depachika (short for “depato basement”) – a huge food floor below ground level which is especially good. Here you can get everything from seafood, to packaged gift food, to deserts. If you’re in Ikebukuro definitely check out the food basement in TOBU.
Food court on top floor of TOBU on the west side.
Don’t worry – walking 15 miles/day sightseeing in Tokyo and you’ll burn it all off.
Pancakes – The New Tokyo Craze
A new food craze has hit Tokyo – pancake shops. They’re everywhere. In Ikebukuro there are several good ones but the 2 best are A Happy Pancake and
Around 35°43’48.11″ N 139°42’46.90″ E at the small side street mentioned above, turn left (north) into a small alley and a few stores down you’ll come to A Happy Pancake. This small underground shop has great food. Careful going down the stairs to the basement: they’re steep and there’s no handrail.
In the SEIBU depato a few blocks to the west is Rainbow Pancake – also a must-visit. Both are excellent, and worth the trip. All-in-all we would rate AHP best, but it’s up to you to decide on taste. There is also another AHP in Omotosando.
If it’s pancakes you want, Tokyo’s got ’em. Lots of ’em.
There are lots of other pancake places all over Tokyo. Get ready to eat.
Micro Food Stalls
All over Tokyo in stations + in other places you’ll see these tiny little food places everywhere. Most stations have them, and Ikebukuro Station is no different.
The Japanese love contractions and in this case “Press Butter Sand” means “Pressed Butter Sandwich”.
There are also lots of tiny micro food trucks in Tokyo – such as this crepe truck in Ikebukuro.
On the east-side backstreets is this great Italian restaurant – Palermo.
Just next to the oldest of the Mr. Donuts – on the east side – is a small concrete park with lots of food. One of the best places among them is the Saikyou Butter Coffee Shop.
On the north side the streets are a little less lively but interesting nonetheless. To the northeast just a few blocks is a small concrete park surrounded by restaurants and a large performing arts theather – Brilla Hall. This entire area is being renovated as of 2021. There are endless small side streets in the north end worth exploring. There are in fact, 2 more major north-south streets in the north area full of shops. Both entrances are around 35°43’54.13″ N 139°42’34.12″ E.
More Discount Stores: Don Quijotes + CAN ⭑ DO
Aside from Seria, there are several other discount stores in Ikebukuro. There are 2 Don Quijotes: 1 just northwest of the station, and another just east of the east exit right across the street. There is also a CAN ⭑ DO discount store just south down the street on the east side. Both Don Quijote + CAN ⭑ DO have some good cheap food selections + snacks.
The Don Quijote just to the northwest of the station.
The east-side Don Quijote across from the station is huge. The food basement is quite good.
Meiji-Dori to Itabashi
You can also walk north on Ikebukuro’s main street on the west side – Meiji-Dori a few miles north to the small town of Itabashi.
There are plenty of good hotels in Ikebukuro which won’t break the bank. We recommend checking agoda.com for rates. One of the best, of course, is the APA hotel, which is very clean + upscale but under $70/night in most cases. It is however a bit further to the northwest but can be easily walked from in a few blocks. There is the aforementioned Sakura Hostel, which is great if you’re on a budget. There is also the Hotel Metropolitan – which is upscale and very good, but much more expensive at around $130/night. There is also Sunshine City Prince Hotel.
The weird cat obsession that is gripping Japan can be found at several cat cafés all over the city, but in Ikebukuro the place for cats is Nekobukuro Cat’s House (ねこぶくろ) – a petting zoo for cats located on the eighth floor of the IkebukuroTokyu Hands store. If you’re into cats check out their site at https://nekobukuro.com/Tokyu Hands is just at the end of the east side street in the small Sunshine City building across from Victoria’s Sports around 35°43’48.45″ N 139°43’00.02″ E.
Victoria’s Sports across the street from Sunshine City.
Ikebukuro is one of Tokyo’s most exciting areas and is a thrill to visit. A must-see. There’s so much to do here plan on spending a couple of days. There are endless places to eat + things to do, yet the area is not so huge that’s it’s overwhelming like some other parts of Tokyo.
Facing north just outside the east JR station exit.
Night view from West Gate Park facing south. Global Ring is in the center.
Inside LUMINE complex.
At the north end of West Gate Park is this side street. If you turn right here, then left, you’ll find the entrance to the small tunnel which leads to the east side of the station:
Turn right at the tunnel entrance a few yards ahead to get to the east side.
As you exit the tunnel on the east side, you’ll see the PARCO building shown here. If you turn south from here, you’ll see the main larger PARCO bldg. and just beyond that, the east entrance to JR Ikebukuro Station.
Northeast side at night. Yamada Denki is the tall bldg. on the right.
An early morning West Gate Park tourist breakfast: some ham, a few croissants, a conbini (convenience store) hot dog, a BOSS Coffee and a pint of milk. Rice-fed cows’ milk in Japan tastes like a bowl of Rice Chex cereal, unlike milk in the west.Contrary to popular perception in the west, you can eat pretty cheap in Japan, although it’s not optimally healthy.
View of Shinjuku from the roof of Sunshine City. Just beyond, barely visible in the distance is the Landmark Tower in Yokohama 40 miles to the southwest.
Inside Sunshine 60’s observatory – which affords spectacular views of Tokyo in all directions.Looking out the window shown here to the right provides a great view of Tokyo Sky Tree.
An epic panorama facing west. On the far right is Ikebukuro to the north, the tallest bldg. of which is Sunshine 60, and Shinjuku on the far left to the south. If you look closely, the farthest left bldg. on the main skyline is the NTT Docomo Yoyogi Building (Yoyogi is just south of Shinjuku).The large white object in the right center is Tokyo Dome to the east. You can walk to all 3 areas, but the distance from one to another is quite a hike and would take a couple of hours.
Phone map of Ikebukuro. The station is in the center.
Facing northeast. The station is out of view to the left (west). Turn right at the bottom of the photo for the main side street with shops. A Happy Pancake is just down a tiny alley next to the brown bldg. on the right side of the frame.The first Bic Camera Annex is just to the left of the alley.Yamada Denki is the large white bldg. on the far left of the frame. If you head down the side street to the right of the next bldg. you’ll find Coffee Valley. The older Mr. Donut is also down here. The small green-roofed object in the lower left corner is the entrance to the undergorund Ikebukuro Shopping Park (ISP).
The end of the side street on the east side. Head right (south) here to get to Sunshine City.
Another view of the Milky Way Café, left, facing south.Turn left here for Sunshine Cityand the main side street.Heading straight ahead to the south eventually brings you to Shinjuku.
YA view of the Milky Way Café.
Just left of the Mily Way Café facing north.
Tokyu Hands entrance just next to the Sunshine City Annex.
The ISP street entrance just east of the JR station.
Entrance to another side street in Ikebukuro which runs north-south.
Entrance to Yamada Denki, on the east side. The small yellow boxes are Gatchapon dispensers – which sell very popular small toys.
A large NAMCO arcade.
Another view of Q plaza.
Hidin’ on the backstreets.
Looking back west from the east end of the long side street. The station is straight ahead. The entrance to Tokyu Hands and Sunshine City is on the left.
If you turn left (south) at the previous photo you’ll come upon K-BOOKS book + game stores. Sunshine 60‘s main complex is down a few blocks on the left. If you head further down, across the street from Sunshine 60 on the corner, you’ll find a great cheap coin locker on the corner: