It's hard to explain it but this page is going to unfold a bit like
a Russian nesting doll, and the smallest doll in the middle is Ice Cream City, but it's the most precious, and the big doll
on the outside is Ikebukuro. Allow us to elucidate, let's start with Ikebukuro first...
Ikebukuro 池袋 (pronounced "ee-kay-boo-koo-doh") "ee" as in "free"
(pictured below) is the second busiest station in Tokyo and enjoys a dense concentration of shops aimed at your
every day normal Tokyoite who needs to pick something up. In general Ikebukuro is an area in Tokyo
filled mostly with locals, you'll probably see housewives picking up dinner at the department stores and high school
students just hangin' at the mall (Sunshine City) after school.
It has two of the largest
department stores in all of Japan, Seibu and Tobu. Pictured above, Tokyo shoppers are seen walking away from the
Tobu entrance/exit inside of Ikebukuro station. Seibu is pictured below alongside of the department
stores "Loft" and "Parco". Notice in the pic of Seibu below, the station exit to Seibu is so close it
looks like it's the mall's parking lot.
also has a women's anime shopping
street called Otome Road, as with Akihabara and Nakano the shops are filled with suggestive anime merchandise aimed at Otaku
(who are mostly men), but the focus in Otome Road is on women Otaku and their fondness for "Boys Love" (as
they call it).
The popular Marui and
Mitsukoshi department stores are also there. Marui is for the after high-school set who've outgrown their old shopping
stomping grounds but still have money to burn. It keeps up with Japanese street fashion and current conservative
trends all under one roof.
Mitsukoshi (seen below) originally founded in 1673 as a kimono shop.
It holds the record as the longest running retail establishment in Japan and maintains its reputation as the
Rolls Royce of department stores.
And of course you can't even think about Ikebukuro without connecting it
to its most memorable mall / entertainment complex Sunshine City.
City is actually a complex of entertainment buildings located in Ikebukuro on the former site of Sugamo Prison (which
isn't that weird necessarily, except for the fact that Tokyoites love spreading this piece of trivia around). The
buildings include a hotel (Sunshine City Prince Hotel), two major malls (ALTA and Alpa), a theme park (Namjatown),
the popular World Import Mart and business tower Sunshine 60 (pictured below).
down from Sunshine 60, we can see the World Import Mart and the Sunshine Prince Hotel(pictured below).
down from the Sunshine Prince Hotel we can see the outside of Alpa mall.
Inside the Alpa mall we can see
City's famous Fountain.
and once inside Alpa mall we can walk from that
fountain (Number 3 on the map* below) towards the ALTA mall and up the escalator to Namjatown!
*Incidentally this map is a route access map to Namjatown from
their official site. The pink line is your route if you took the
Tokyu Hands exit from the JR (train) Ikebukuro station and the orange
line is your route if you took the Minami (South) 3 exit from the Tokyo Metro (subway) Higashi Ikebukuro Station.
Located on the first floor (1F) between Sunshine City's Alpa and Alta malls is a theme
park created by the Namco (video game) company. You might know them best by the all time classic video game character
Pacman (as seen below), of course if you're younger you might know them through Mario Kart or Tekken.
Namjatown (entrance pictured below) is a theme park decorated
in the theme of "old Edo" (as they call it). Tokyo was named "Edo" prior to 1868, but any nostalgic era in
Tokyo's history is commonly referred to as "old Edo".
Check out our YouTube
video of our visit to Namjatown in 2010:
In this case, "old Edo" is simulating a post-war 1950's Tokyo. You
can stroll down its alleys and streets (pictured below)
on the hunt for matsuri (festival) games (as shown below)...
see Noh (japanese drama) performance simulations, walk through a Haunted House, and of course visit
their great food stalls like those at Gyoza Stadium. Gyoza Stadium (pictured below) is an assembly of the best gyoza
(chinese dumplings) vendors in Japan. If ever wanted to do a dumpling taste test, than this is the place to do
and finally the coup de grāce (or coup de glace for your french pun of the day).... Ice Cream City!
named haven for ice cream would probably be better titled "Ice Cream World", as they have represented ice cream shops from
Japan, Italy, Turkey, Belgium and for the adventurer in you, there's a "Cup Ice Museum" (which shall be explained below).
Cream City Entrance pictured above.
Turkish store Dondurma is the home of stretchy ice cream from Turkey. On the Ice Cream
City official site, they describe it as "Oriental"*. Please click the picture below to see an embedded video
from the official japanese site on how the stretchy Turkish ice cream is made:
a quick note: The Japanese don't consider themselves oriental or asian. To them Japan isn't a part of Asia, Japan's simply
the land of the rising sun. If they go to Korea, China or India they've now taken a trip to Asia and
if they go to Turkey, Egypt or Dubai they've taken a trip to the Orient. It's not that they refuse to be oriental or
asian, to them it's not a politically correct issue, to their ear it's just incorrect. If you're American and someone
calls you Canadian or Australian you might clarify that you're from the U.S. It's not necessarily insulting,
it just doesn't sound right to be called Australian right?
Italian store Gelato Nero is just like gelateria's you've likely seen before, with the possible
exception of the flavors. What's in the Nero (black) Gelato? Click the picture to see an embedded video from
the official japanese site, that shows the black gelato up close, but still gives us no clue as to what flavor's
Actually if you click here you can see a little closer to the menu. There's an orange ice cream right under the
sign that's Tomato flavor. wha-ut?
Right underneath it is Chocolate
*phew!* I can also see the purple one to the right is Ube (philippine yam) and if you follow the bottom line
all the way to the left the light green one is Green Apple, so all is right with the world.
Belgian ice cream store Glacio (pronounced Glah-She-o) sells Belgian ice cream?
What? Wait....Belgian WAFFLES with ice cream on top - wow! That sounds great! Click the picture
to see an embedded video from the official japanese site, that shows us the amazing process of making belgian waffles,
then topping it with an ice cream sundae.
Pari Pari Crepes
Japan's own Pari Pari Crepes fills crepes with soft serve
ice cream and any combination of toppings you like. Click the picture below to see an embedded video from the official
site showing you how these ice creams are made.
Although the japanese didn't invent crepes, they certainly have perfected the art of filling them with delicious
ingredients. Show below is a strawberry crepe on the left and their famous chocolate banana crepe.
This sequence of rooms holds thousands of pints
of ice cream in just about every flavor you can imagine (or some ice creams you'd never imagine) like indian curry, shark
fin ramen, squid, octopus, deep sea water, beef tongue...the list goes on and on. The entrance to this labyrinth
of taste (good and bad) is pictured below:
Rather than explain it in detail I've included a YouTube
clip and even a YouTube link to all the videos that people have posted trying their unusual ice
creams at Ice Cream City.
The You Tube video below is actually Part 2 of Tokyo Cooney's trek into the scary world of
ice cream. Part 1 is on the homepage of this website.
...and of course as promised, click the link below if you'd like to see YouTuber's reactions
to several ice cream flavors they probably wouldn't dream of trying in the U.S. We think the combination of
being a foreigner in Tokyo and stumbling upon natto or cheese ice cream becomes a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity that
brings out the daredevil in us all. Enjoy.
*Please note that most attractions in Namjatown are japanese only, so it's probably cheaper for you
to just pay the „300 entrance fee and check out Ice Cream City, Gyoza Stadium, get a feel for the general ambience and
maybe play a few Matsuri games.
For even more info, please click here for Namjatown's official english guide: