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50 things to do in Ikebukuro

Looking for things to do in Ikebukuro? Take your pick of everything from major attractions to tranquil art galleries and unique bars

Things to do in Ikebukuro – slurp up superb late-night ramen

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.

1

Meet at the owl...

Though it doesn't have its own heartwarming tale like Shibuya's Hachiko, this owl statue inside Ikebukuro Station is still a popular meeting spot. The name, Ikefukuro, is a play on Ikebukuro and fukuro (owl in Japanese). Ikefukuro

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Ikebukuro
2

Down a cup of power-packed coffee...

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

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Ikebukuro
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3

Hunt down the subcultures...

Otome Road ('Maiden Road') runs for 200m along the west side of the Sunshine 60 building and is packed with shops including K-Books, Mandarake and a Butler Café that attracts the kind of lady who's fascinated by manga or Japan's other subcultures. Maiden Road

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Ikebukuro
4

Sweeten the deal...

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

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5

Choose your tea with your butler...

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

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Ikebukuro
6

Watch films all night long...

A legendary repertory house showing a wide range of films, from Japanese classics to Hollywood no-brainers. The all-night screenings on Saturday nights are particularly popular. Shin-Bungeiza

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7

Savour the flavour of organic bread...

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

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Ikebukuro
8

Bed down on a budget...

Bilingual staff and easy access to Ikebukuro Station make this budget hotel a favourite. There's a shared kitchen and a 24-hour café with a nice beer selection. Single rooms ¥7,000, dorm beds ¥3,300. Sakura Hotel Ikebukuro

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9

Sip coffee in the Showa era...

This coffee shop is housed in an 80-year-old Showa period building and sells its own original brew. Here's a fun fact: manga maestro Osamu Tezuka once lived just behind it. Kiazuma Coffee

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Zoshigaya
10

Buy a pink cactus...

On the rooftop of the Seibu Ikebukuro main store, you'll find this small gardening shop selling unique cacti and succulents. We fell in love with one spiky little fella that comes in bright yellow or pink. Kakusen-En

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26

Admire famous architecture...

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

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Ikebukuro
27

Cuddle some cats...

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

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28

Discover magical rooftop dining...

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

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Ikebukuro
29

Dig into a super-sized octopus ball...

Tried takoyaki already? Then it's time to graduate to the bigger version called bakudanyaki ('fried bomb'): it's about eight times the size, packs in plenty more ingredients besides octopus, and comes with different toppings. Bakudan-yaki

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30

Dress up for the theatre...

The first thing that strikes you about this modern theatre is its unusual shape. You can watch orchestras perform in the Concert Hall, while the Play House is used for musicals, plays and dance performances. Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre

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Ikebukuro
31

See what the maid cafés are all about...

Unlike Akihabara's more boisterous maid cafés, this one has a more classic, calm, European-themed setting. It's still a little bizarre being served your cup of black tea by a 'maid', but hey, it's a story to tell. Wonder Parlour Cafe

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32

Frame yourself...

It's impossible to walk by this store without being lured in by the hundreds of sunglasses decorating the shopfront. They mainly sell spectacles but it's also a treasure chest of unique, cheap frames and sunglasses. Spectacles Museum

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Ikebukuro
33

Fill your shopping basket...

Opened in mid-September 2014, this Ikebukuro shopping paradise houses a total of over 25 businesses, including dedicated cat shop Necosekai, 'food laboratory' Lupe, coffee and popcorn dealers Bean & Pop and churrasco joint Tucano. Wacca

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34

Have dinner at a Shocker base...

Fans of the Kamen Rider anime will find it hard to control themselves at this 'official restaurant', complete with life-size Rider figures and bikes. The menu includes choices like Shocker Salad, Crimson Smash Pizza and Rider Parfait. Kamen Rider the Diner

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Ikebukuro
35

Stare at hieroglyphics...

This museum is actually just two rooms displaying a small collection of objects from ancient Egypt. The special exhibitions are far more interesting, but often aren't related to ancient Egypt at all. The Ancient Orient Museum

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