Updated: Jun 19, 2021
This is a perfect representation of my day with a wonderful friend in Ikebukuro: through a lens of immense color and beautiful (sometimes hilarious) surprises. Both myself and Frances are ardent explorers, happy to go where the day takes us and shake things up even if there's a plan in place. I mean, if it looks cool GO SEE IT! And we did. Oh my goodness we did.
Ikebukuro is a commercial and entertainment district in Toshima, Tokyo. It's known for the Sunshine City complex with diverse shops, an aquarium, and the Sunshine 60 skyscraper and observation deck. Indie stores for anime and manga dot the surrounding streets, and cosplay fans hang out in Naka-Ikebukuro Park. There are also shrines, numerous pachinko parlors and love hotels. We discovered quite a few places of note to come back to-areas we need to explore-but the real fun in yesterday was not only the company, it was the abundance of quirk and color. Each was more unexpected than the next and we kept wondering, "Why does no one ever talk about these places? Why isn't this on a 'Places You Must See' list when in Ikebukuro?"
You can thank us later.
The 5 Places You Must See in Ikebukuro
1. Aged Glass Museum
This is why we went originally. Frances asked me to join her at the Aged Sunglass Museum-which isn't a museum at all, but a wild amalgamation of sunnies arranged on the entire exterior (and interior) of this glasses shop. It's wonderfully eye-catching isn't it? Go for the one-of-a-kind visual, but be sure to pick up a pair of readers or fun glasses! They have quirky 80's inspired neon frames with pitch black lenses to fun ones that look like they came straight from the Halston showroom. None are more than 600 yen...unless you're looking at the glass case where you're paying. There you'll see some gorgeous wire and tortoise-shell frames that cost a pretty penny, but they look worth every single one.
2.) WE Road
Thank you Google Maps! This was found by pure happenstance on our way to get ice cream. The map indicated we should use an underpass beneath a JR station to get from West Ikebukuro to East (thus the WE). As we started down we saw it was completely painted! It was beautiful, transitioning from color to style to brushstroke. In a word, it's an Instagramer's dream location even with the bustling crowd.
Why hasn't this been talked about before? I suspect in large part because the art intstallation is relatively new, painted with the 2020 Olympics in mind. Apparently this particular walkway used to be incredibly creepy and considered unsafe, once compared to an alleyway in a horror game. It's hard to think of any place in Tokyo being unsafe, but when the stats show that only 23% of women were willing to walk through it before the overhaul...it's telling. And now it's showing-BIG TIME!
Let us take a moment to pray for DJ Horny.
Okay! Onto the third spot you must visit-especially in summer.
3. Blue Seal Ice Cream
No picture-I was too busy eating.
If you've been to Okinawa you've had this yummy treat; the ice cream is terrific, and while this isn't an unknown spot it's a must if in Ikebukuro during the months of swelter. We are steadily sinking into those months friends. You know this. You feel yourself starting to glow the moment you step from your front door so please, if in Ikebukuro, get some of this yummy ice cream located in the bottom of Sunshine City-another reason to go, but we all know this place...right? No? Okay-another blog post then!
I picked the mint chocolate because it's a favorite but I have to admit Frances had the better one. The pineapple sorbet was so luscious-just like a slightly firmer Dole whip. I'm getting that next time!
4.) Brillia Hall
Again, a location we stumbled across on the way from one place to another. We were heading to one of two shrines so I could reach my 500th pilgrimage when we both looked up, catching sight of this gorgeous colorful walkway. Curious, we decided to see if we could get up to it and thankfully we could! Brillia Hall is part of a community center of sorts so it's open to the public. It has a cute cafe in the bottom, a performance hall at the top, and in between floors with various rooms that can be rented. On the 3rd floor, however, is where the magic happens. There is a beautiful glass-tiled walk way that allows you to go from one building to another...and then another! No one was up there so we were really able to enjoy the beautiful sight and get some sweet pictures.
5.) Super Potato
If you love retro video games and all that accompany them, Super Potato is THE place to go. While the bigger one is in Akihabara, this small one is very fitting with an area littered with izakaya alleyways and love hotels. In fact, the lighting in Super Potato made me think of both-the late night dining with locals and illicit places. It made for the most gorgeous pictures as well!
There are some places in Tokyo that get a bad rap as being very one note. Until yesterday, Ikebukuro was kind of one of those places. It was all about Sunshine City-I never heard of any other place! Thankfully that assumption has been dispelled and in the best possible company we made careful note of places to come back to. Butler Cafe's, shrines, art spaces, shopping-there is so much to do and explore...and I cannot wait to go back in the fall!
Happy weekend y'all. Where will you venture to today?