Like the current pancake craze in Tokyo at the moment, Japan is crazy for donuts. There are so many cool donuts in Japan it’s hard to know where to start.
The real donut crazes hit around Halloween + Christmas – 2 major holdays in Japan. Halloween especially is huge. Spring is also a big donut time in Japan – mostly with all kinds of Sakura donuts everywhere.
Jack In The Donuts: Just outside Yodobashi Akihabara is a small donut shop called Jack In The Donuts. You can watch workers prepare donuts live + they have a great variety of donuts including matcha donuts. The shop is hidden in a small shopping tunnel just on the south side of Yodobashi Camera. Well worth a stop.
They have awesome triple-decker burgers that are really great for around $12-$15. They also have seafood, chicken, and deserts. Tables are indoors and out and they just installed a nice new tile sidewalk out front next to the tables.
Inside is a relaxed bar-type atmosphere with wood paneling, and subdued lighting. You may want to arrive early in the evening because apparently they run out of burgers early.
To get here, exit the east side of JR Ikebukuro Station, head south 3 blocks, east 2 more blocks, then south one more block, then east 2 more blocks. It’s on your left on the corner as you face east.
Tucked down a little hidden side-street, 2 blocks from Tokyo’s JR Ikebukuro Station is one of the city’s best cafés: Coffee Valley Ikebukuro. This place is a must-see for anyone visiting Tokyo.
Coffee Valley offers gourmet coffees of all kinds, and small snacks such as pastries. It has an exceptional interior with rustic wood + nice lighting. Staff is very friendly. There is seating on the second floor with large windows with lots of light.
The quality of everything here is superb. This is one Tokyo café that is not to be missed. It’s well worth a trip to Ikebukuro just for the café alone, but if you’re in the area sightseeing anyway, you’ll definitely want to stop in.
After exiting, turn right onto the sidewalk (south):
JR Ikebukuro Station east exit. Head south as you exit (to your right as you face the exit from the inside, or straight ahead down the sidewalk in this photo).
Proceed 1.8 miles south. You’ll pass the large SEIBU + PARCOdepato (department stores) as you go. As of this writing at the 1.8 mile point, you will see a large Starbuck’s in front of you on the corner across the street. Turn left (east) at this light (you’ll see a Komedia’s Coffee on the 2nd floor in the bldg. in front of you). Cross at the light. On the ground floor of this bldg. there will be a Yahoo! and a SoftBank. At this corner there will be a tinynarrow side street on your left. Head down it:
Look for the tiny side street next to the SoftBank/Yahoo! bldg.
Go a block and the street will curve around to the right. Keep going and cross the next street also. You will see a Caffé Veloce on the corner on the right, and a Yoshinoya on the corner on the left. Enter the next small street straight ahead and Coffee Valley will be just inside on your left. Can’t miss it.
Abandon all other coffee places, ye who enter here.Coffee Valley is just down the alley ahead on the left.
JR Ikebukuro Station is shown on the left. The JR Ikebukuro Station east exit is just to the left of the small square in the upper center of the map shown above. The main street runs roughly north-south. Coffee Valley is shown at the placemarks in the lower right corner.
Main street in east Ikebukuro. The JR Ikebukuro Station is up on the left. You’ll exit here, and head down the street on your left (towards the camera in this photo).
The food courts on floors 7 + 8 of LUMINE Ikebukuro are amazing. Shop after shop of high quality food at reasonable prices. A few really good burger joints, all kinds of cafés, and sweets, pancake + sundae places, and higher end restaurants on the 8th floor.
LUMINE is at the south west end of Ikebukuro JR station. Take the Metropolitain exit, head just to the left down the sidewalk, past TOBU depato, then under the high metal beam roof. The escalators are right there. Take one to the top floors.
The food basement in the TOBU bldg. right next door is great too.
So… here’s how to get there:
Exit JR Ikebukuro Station at the west or Metropolitan (Theater) exit. This is on the west/southwest side of the station.
You’ll come up stairs when exiting, there will be a tiny Starbucks on the right, a TOBU depato on the left. You’ll be out in a small square with some shops across the street.
Head south, past the TOBU store, sticking to the far left of the sidewalk. If you’re to the right of the Taito Station, you’re too far west.
After you pass the TOBU bldg, go about another block and you’ll see another JR station exit like this:
It says “West Entrance” but it’s really the Southwest entrance on a map. There’s another exit called South Exit inside the building south of this. Either west or south exits will do.
5. Walk past this entrance, sticking to the left, and you’ll come into an area with a bunch of escalators, and some shops, and coin lockers:
This is what you want – board the escalators to the top floors to find the restuarants. Note the “M” on the building. This used to be called the “Metropolitain Building” but is now called LUMINE.
As a footnote, just to the right on this photo – by the exit from the escaltors, there are all kinds of interesting shops – there’s a Coffee Roasters Laboratory Cafe, a Mr. Donut (in fact 2 of them on that side of the station), and a few blocks south, a MOS Burger. There is also another shopping area near the Coffee Roasters called Esola.
2nd footnote: Just to the north of the Starbucks mentioned above, there is a huge JR Travel Service Center which has lots of info, train bookings, and other useful traveller info.
Just west down the street past the Taito Station mentioned there is a large Bic Camera annex, and beyond that further west, a OIOI depato. Keep in mind there are 5 Bic Camera stores around Ikebukuro station.
All of these places are within a few blocks of each other.
So, if you’re in the mood for nice food courts, and sellers, check out the LUMINE food court shown above, and the food seller basement in the TOBU depato next door. Both are outstanding.
Exit JR Ikebukuro Station @ the South Exit and immediately turn right (north). Esola is just on your right. The south exit is near the LUMINEdepato (formerly Metropolitan Plaza). The TOBUdepato is just behind Esola.
If you come out of the mainIkebukuro West Gate Park exit on the west side of the station, just head down the street ahead on the left, and Esola will be down on your left a few blocks (street entrance is shown at 00:52 in the 2nd video below, and Esola itself is at 3:02 – right across from the newly constructed Global Ring park).
The entomology of the name Esola isn’t clear – the only info available is that it is derived from early Germanic + is a woman’s name meaning patiently quiet. It’s not clear if the mall’s name was taken from the #1 smash hit song Esora (エソラ) by Japanese band Mr.Children, but it’s highly likely since that song was released in 2008 on Mr.Children‘s spectacular album Supermarket Fantasy(which we highly recommend BTW) before the present Esola complex was built.
Head left down this street from the West Gate Park exit. Global Ring is on the right, Esola is down on the left.