Ikebukuro is one of Tokyo's Big 3 centers, along with Shinjuku and Shibuya. Compared with the other two, however, Ikebukuro is best described as "homey," lacking some of the sheen and veneer of Shinjuku. However, Ikebukuro station is the second-busiest in Japan and there are several excellent shopping areas – like Sunshine City
– that provide plenty of entertainment for people just arriving from the outskirts of town.
The name "Ikebukuro" in Japanese translates to "Pond-Bag" in English. Not the most attractive of names, but the mystery of its origin makes up for the aesthetics. There are three widely held origin theories. The first says that Ikebukuro used to be the location of a pond shaped like a person carrying a bag. The second holds that it was the sheer quantity of ponds in this area that led people to think of it as sort of a "bag of ponds." The third maintains that a turtle was once seen walking out of the pond with a bag on its back. Whichever you choose to believe, theories about the origin of Ikebukuro's name are a popular topic of debate with the locals. An alternate explanation involves a play on words - "fukuro" can also mean "owl." A statue of an owl, now a famous meeting place, located near the center of the city may be a hint of the true origin of the name.
Head here for a first-class line-up of department stores, ramen shops, and specialty electronics stores. Or, if you're hankering for an only-in-Japan experience, check out Otome Road – Ikebukuro's female-friendly counterpart to Akihabara – to the west of the Sunshine 60 building near Ikebukuro station. This 200-meter drag is stacked high with anime, manga and dojinshi (amateur fan-produced manga) aimed specifically at women.
ADM Ikebukuro Live Garage
Tapa Sunshine Street
Kaiten Yume Sushi
Black Sheep (The)
Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro