Saturday, January 5, 2013

Ikebukuro, the Animate Flagship Store, and Sunshine City

Ikebukuro in Tokyo is a major stop on the the Yamanote Line and Ikebukuro Station is the second largest train station in Japan.
JR Ikebukuro Station Sign
The Tobu Department Store here is the largest department store in Japan and major branches of the other depachika are located here such as Seibu.  Large outlets of Tokyu Hands, and Bic Camera are also here.  Accomodations are usually somewhat cheaper here and there is plenty to do in the area without having to take the train somewhere.  If you are coming in from Narita Airport you can take the Keisei Skyliner to Nippori Station then transfer to the Yamanote Line.  Connections via the Narita Express are not as good and it takes longer if you can line one up.
Ikebukuro at night
Sega Game Center with the crowds
Anime is everywhere.
This area is still very busy, with booming nightlife, but off the more beaten tourist path than areas such as Shinjuku or Shibuya.  It is also known as a major anime outlet for women with the Otome Road area.  The flagship store for Animate is here and a Gamers store is also here amongst many other anime related goods shops.  The anime Durarara!! about an underworld courier was also set in the area.  Sunshine City, a large mall complex, is also located here with its own highrise viewing deck at Sunrise 60, has an aquarium, and miniature theme parks such as Namja Town. Even Nekobukuro, an established cat cafe, can be found on the 8th floor of Tokyu Hands. Nekobukuro has about twenty cats and kittens that you can pet and play with for a small fee. Playing with cats makes sense to the Tokyoites who may have small living spaces and no pets rules to deal with in their apartments.  The area is also known for its many ramen shops and there were "ramen wars" in the area to see whose ramen was the tastiest.
New Animate Flagship Store

The new Animate flagship store here is not just for the ladies though, even though it does have an extensive selection of anime, goods, and doujinshi geared towards them. Recently moved, it has 9 floors of anime goodness and a cafe, but only 7 floors dedicated to merchandise!  It is packed full of merchandise and is a welcoming environment for men and women.  I didn't notice as many of the ladies in the anime stores in Akihabara, but they made up a good percentage of the customers here.  The old Animate store across from Sunshine City is still open too, with 3 floors of cosplay related goods, but the rest of the building is mainly devoted to exhibition or event space at the time of writing.

7F:DVD's, CD's Games
6F:Character Goods, T-shirts, Cushions
5F:Trading cards, Figures, Shokugan, Fancy Goods
4F:Manga (Shojo, BL, Girls) Novels, Doujinshi, Drawing Tools
3F:Manga (Shonen, Seinen) Comic Bunko
2F:Manga (New, Shonen, Seinen, Anime)
1F:Magazines, Food / Snacks, New products

New Animate Store Address:
東京都豊島区東池袋1-20-7
Tokyo toshimaku higashiikebukuro 1-20-7

Inside the new Animate Ikebukuro 

Picture of the old Animate store across from Sunshine City
Mutekiya Ramen. Mutekiya is legendary for its tonkotsu (pork-bone) broth painstakingly prepared for 20 hours a batch. Lineups are not uncommon (I've seen it myself).  See map below for location.
I have compiled a list of locations of interest for Ikebukuro below and you can see a guide and the locations on the map if you click through.

View Ikebukuro in a larger map

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ikebukuro
http://wikitravel.org/en/Tokyo/Ikebukuro
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otome_Road
http://blog.japantwo.com/2011/07/14/3823

http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/26767/Ikebukuro+Gamers.html
http://www.dannychoo.com/post/en/26599/Ikebukuro+in+the+Summer.html



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