Ikebukuro is one of Tokyo's biggest and busiest hubs, but has long been derided as a decidedly un-trendy 'gateway to Saitama', overshadowed by the likes of Shinjuku and Shibuya. That unfortunate reputation is quickly becoming a thing of the past, as our picks of the best things to do in the area prove: Ikebukuro boasts everything from major attractions to tranquil art galleries and unique bars, plus a world-class selection of ramen shops.
Meet a friend at the iconic owl statue and start tackling our top 50 picks, including lunch at Tokyo's first 'butler café', a visit to a spectacle museum, a drink with penguins and shopping for a pink cactus. Finding things to do in Ikebukuro has never been more convenient – or addictive.
These purveyors of 'mighty strong coffee' create magic with house roasts, including the much-vaunted Monkey Business and new offering Bukurorio, made exclusively for this branch. The funky, friendly vibe found at the original NYC location has also been kept intact. Gorilla Coffee
Open since 1937, this shop occupies a special place in the heart of many a wagashi fan. If you're just popping in to buy snacks, we recommend their monaka (azuki bean-filled wafers), especially the one in the shape of Ikefukuro, the area's owl mascot. Ikebukuro Miharado
Sneak a peek inside the first butler's café in Japan, opened in 2006 and functioning as a kind of fantasy world – at least for those who fantasise about being served tea by a gentle butler. Advance bookings are necessary, but even if you can't get a table, stop by the gift shop where you'll still get a feel for the atmosphere. Butler's Café Swallowtail
Look for a blue eave near the park outside Ikebukuro Station's west exit and you'll be on the doorstep of this bakery and café. Consider picking up a loaf of their homemade organic bread, which gets plenty of praise for its rich flavour, or sit down in the smallish space for a hearty sandwich. Cafe Terve
You could probably guess this building was designed by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright just by looking at the geometric window. Originally a school, this Important Cultural Property is now used for alumni meetings and weddings, so be sure to check the schedule before visiting on weekends. Jiyu Gakuen Myonichikan
Head up to the 8th floor of Tokyu Hands and get greeted by the fluffy residents of this cat 'house'. They don't actually offer any food or drinks for humans here, but you can watch the kitties get fed twice a day (1pm and 4pm weekdays; 1pm and 5.30pm weekends and hols). ¥600 entrance fee with no time limit (no re-entry allowed). Nekobukuro
Inspired by Monet's landscape paintings, this food court seems almost like it's floating on the rooftop of the Seibu Ikebukuro main store. It features various seasonal flowers around a pretty pond, and a number of unique food items. The Floating Garden of Food and Greenery