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Ikebukuro, Sunshine City, Namjatown

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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...
Russian Nesting Dolls

Ikebukuro 池袋 (pronounced "ee-kay-boo-koo-doh") "ee" as in "free"

Ikebukuro station (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.  

Ikebukuro Station

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.

Ikebukuro Station


 Ikebukuro 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). 

Otome Road

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. 

Marui

 


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.

Mitsukoshi


And of course you can't even think about Ikebukuro without connecting it to its most memorable mall / entertainment complex Sunshine City.

Sunshine City (サンシャインシティ)

Sunshine 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).

Sunshine 60
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Looking down from Sunshine 60, we can see the World Import Mart and the Sunshine Prince Hotel(pictured below). 

Sunshine City Prince Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking down from the Sunshine Prince Hotel we can see the outside  of  Alpa mall. 

Sunshine City

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the Alpa mall we can see Sunshine City's  famous Fountain.Sunshine City


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!

Namjatown Access Route

*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.

Namjatown (ナンジャタウン)

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.

Pacman

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:

 
Namjatown Entrance


 In this case, "old Edo" is simulating a post-war 1950's Tokyo.  You can stroll down its alleys and streets (pictured below) 

Namjatown


on the hunt for matsuri (festival) games (as shown below)... Namjatown Matsuri Games

 


 ...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 it!

Namjatown Gyoza Stadium

 


 and finally the coup de grāce (or coup de glace for your french pun of the day).... Ice Cream City!

Ice Cream City (アイス クリーム シティ)

This invitingly 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). 

Ice Cream City

 Ice Cream City Entrance pictured above.

Dondurma

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:

Dondurma

 


*Just 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?

Gelato Nero

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 inside. 

Gelato Nero


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.

Glacio

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. 

Gracio


 

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.

PariPari

 


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.

PariPari

 

 

 Cup Ice Museum

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:

Cup Ice Museum

 


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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jJvJPBzdeG0

...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.

YouTube link

Namjatown Info
Hours: 10:00a - 10:00p (Last Entry 9:00p)
 
Ticket Adult (15 years and over)
Admission „300 (w/ tax) *Top Recommendation
Passport „3,900 (w/ tax)
Night Passport (after 5:00p) „2,500 (w/ tax)
 
Child (7 to 14 years)
Admission „200 (w/ tax)
Passport „3,300 (w/ tax)
Night Passport (after 5:00p) „2,000 (w/ tax)
*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:

 

Getting There - Ikebukuro

 

From Shinjuku 新宿 - Take the Yamanote 山手 line to Ikebukuro 池袋.

Price: „150

Time: 8 minutes

 

From Nakano 中野 - Take the Chuo 中央 line or Chuo-Sobu 中央総武 line to Shinjuku 新宿 and transfer to the Yamanote 山手 line to Ikebukuro 池袋.

Price: „160

Time: 18 minutes

 

If you'd like to get closer to Namjatown you can continue on by taking the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line 東京メトロ 有楽町 from Ikebukuro 池袋 to Higashi Ikebukuro 池袋.

Price: „150

Time: 3 minutes

 

Ikebukuro Station

Ikebukuro Station


Once at your station, follow the signs "for Sunshine" (as above) and once in Sunshine you can use the walking route map (click here) to get to Namjatown.

For more amusements, please click the link below:

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そうだ 東京行こう!