Ikebukuro Underground

Name: Ikebukuro

Kind: Town

Free Wifi: Yes

Location: 35°44’05.39″ N 139°42’27.83″ E

Station: JR Ikebukuro Station, Seibu Ikebukuro Line, Marunouchi Line, Yurakucho Line, Fukutoshin Line

Worth it? A must-see.

Our Rating: ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

Updated 7/31/2021

©2021 tenmintokyo.com

Also see our Ikebukuro Superguide.

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).

ISP does have an English website.

One can spend hours under here roaming around, so next time you’re in Ikebukuro, check it out.

Sunshine City

Info desk.

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.

Entrance to Sunshine City @ Sunshine 60.

Entrance to Sunshine City @ the east end of Sunshine 60 Street.

ISP

ISP entrance just outside the east exit of JR Ikebukuro Station.

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.

The ISP entrance inside JR Ikebukuro Station.

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.

©2019 tenmintokyo.com

ECHIKA Ikebukuro + Esola

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.

Conclusion

©2019 tenmintokyo.com

Food seller under Ikebukuro Station.

West side of JR Ikebukuro Station. The TOBU Hope Center entrance is on the right.

East side of SEIBU Ikebukuro Station.

There is also a complete 3rd-party Ikebukuro Guide site.

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.

Enjoy!

LINKS

Ikebukuro Superguide

https://sunshinecity.jp/en/

ISP

Echika Ikebukuro (Ikebukuro|Shopping Malls) – LIVE JAPAN

https://ikebukuro.guide/en/facilities/echika/index.html

https://livejapan.com/en/in-tokyo/in-pref-tokyo/in-ikebukuro/spot-lj0002506/

https://livejapan.com/en/in-tokyo/in-pref-tokyo/in-ikebukuro/spot-lj0003053/

Japan’s Massive Depato Food Courts

Esola Complex Ikebukuro

Ikebukuro Station: Complete Beginner’s Guide to Cracking This 3D Maze

https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/customer_support/service_center_ikebukuro.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hideki_Tojo

VIDS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CexIjNk4muw

Japan’s Coffee Culture

The Japanese love coffee and cafés at least as much – if not more – than other countries.

Japan is a coffee culture. Cafés are everywhere and coffee vending machines are everywhere.

A few photos of “cohee” culture in Japan:

Junk Cafe Tokyo in Shibuya.

Cafe Legato – also in Shibuya has excellent views of the city.

Sunday Coffee – another staple in Shibuya. To the left is the Jaguar Hair Saloon. Not salon – saloon.

If you go south on Meiji-Dori Ave south of Ikebukero, you will happen upon this non-descript bldg. with the hidden and excellent Rocket Café on the 2nd floor. Well worth a visit.

Komeda’s Coffee east of Ikebukero Station.

A phone map showing both Komeda’ Coffee and Coffee Valley east of Ikebukero Station in west Tokyo.

The Roasted Coffee Laboratory has several locations in Tokyo.

Stockholm Roast in Omotesando. Seating is on the roof.

There are several Mr. Donuts in Ikebukero. This newer one is southwest of JR Ikebukero Station. There is a similar one just a few blocks to the north on the northwest side of the station.

There is also a much older Mr. Donut on a backstreet in Ikebukero to the east of the JR station.

Another typical Japanese cafe.

Another must-see café in Ikebukuro is Coffee Valley east of JR Ikebukero Station and only an 8 min walk southwest from Maruonuchi

A typical Starbucks in Ikebukero. There are half a dozen of them spread out all over the area.

Vending Machine Cohee in Japan

The other side of coffee in Japan are the micro-sized vending machine canned coffees. Brands such as Boss and Wonda (part of Asahi) are very popular. But by western standards, the cans are miniscule. There are some larger canned coffees in conbini stores – including Boss and others, which are a bit more. Some conbinis also sell heated coffee in aluminum cans for around ¥100. Just walk in + buy one – they are heated on the shelves where they sit.

Wonda canned coffee from a vending machine. There are seemingly endless brands + varieties in vending machines in Japan.

BOSS canned vending machine coffee.

Suntory BOSS vending machine in Japan. Coins in, coffee out.

Heated BOSS canned coffee on a conbini store shelf.

Larger Fire brand canned coffee from a vending machine.

McDonald’s (‘MacuDo’s) coffee served in a tiny paper cup in Japan.

There are also machines that serve hot coffee in a paper cup.

If you like milk in your coffee, Meiji brand is quite good from a conbini for around ¥100.

Conbini also sell various brands of slightly larger coffees such as lattes in sealed paper cups with plastic lids + a straw for around ¥100. There are various brands – even Starbucks. There are even matcha-lattes – green tea lattes, which are actually very good.

How to do coffee cheap in Japan

If you’re looking to save $ in Japan, there are ways to get your coffee + save $.

One way is to buy a bag of pre-made coffee in discount or drug stores. Drip-On by Key Coffee is one such brand. The bags are sort of like tea bags in the west – you open a plastic packet, remove the bag, unfold it, place it on a cup, then pour in hot water. A pack of 10-15 of these bags can be bought for around $5 – or about $.50 per cup. While not quite as good as fresh coffee or vending coffee, they are still good, and can save lot of ¥.

You can find little electric boiler pots at discount stores such as Don Quijote for as low as $20. These pots are amazing + can boil an entire pot of water in under 60 seconds. Many hotels have them. The little power button on the handle snaps off as soon as the water boils.

But so far the ultimate cheap way to do coffee in Japan we’ve found is to buy a large paper carton of coffee at one of the discount stores such as Don Quijote for around ¥100 or less. You can add milk, or drink it black. One small carton yields about 2-3 full cups. If you want to be ultra-cheap you can add 1/2 cup of water, then microwave it – and get about 3 cups out of a carton – around $.30/cup. Some vending machines also have 2X-sized plastic bottles of black coffee for around $1.30.

Also see our main post about going to Japan for more food/coffee tips.