Ikebukuro (池袋) is one of the major city centres in Tokyo, Japan, with the Ikebukuro Station (train & subway station) at its centre, served by the JR East lines, the Seibu Ikebukuro Line and the Tōbu Tōjō Line. In fact, it is the second busiest station in Japan, with Shinjuku being the first. I also read that Ikebukuro is the setting of various Japanese manga and anime. No wonder we saw many gaming and anime shops here.
We exited from the east exit of Ikebukuro Station & tried to head to Sunshine City, but got lost in the process. There was a very kind Japanese lady who actually walked us all the way there as she had difficulty giving us directions since we did not understand Japanese & her English speaking skill was limited. We felt so grateful to have asked her for directions. 😉
We found some shops at Sunshine City that were selling pretty affordable fashion accessories such as uniquely designed necklaces & earrings at JPY 315 each (about S$5)! My friend grabbed quite a handful while I bought 2 lovely clip-on earrings. Thereafter we went for an early dinner at a small eatery called Matsuya (松屋), located just opposite Tokyu Hands. Apparently Matsuya operates a chain of restaurants like Yoshinoya, specialising in beef-on-rice & set meals.
The curry rice was very fragrant & the portion was pretty generous too. My friend had the 豚生姜焼定食, and the pork was very tender too. Of course since this is fast-food style, do not expect it to be like the traditional restaurant standard. But we think for the price it is good enough.:)
After dinner we proceeded back to Sunshine City, as we wanted to ride on the elevator to go up to Sunshine 60 observatory deck, which used to be the tallest building in Japan until Tokyo Metropolitan Government was completed in 1991. What is so special about this elevator you must be asking?
If your eyes are sharp enough, you would have noticed a number “600” on the elevator display panel. That is actually the elevator speed going up to the observatory deck on the 60th floor – at 600m/ minute! It is one of the fastest elevators in the world. There is even a professional “Elevator Lady” (电梯小姐) helping you with entering & pressing the button at the elevator on the ground floor. Once the elevator door closes, a pre-loaded music starts to play and special lighting effects displayed. The graphics were beautiful, as you can see from 1 of the pictures I managed to snap in the elevator. However we realised that there is an admission fee (didn’t check the fee though) to enter the observatory deck so we didn’t go in.
By the time we were done at Sunshine 60, it was about 8pm & most shops were closed or closing. We browsed along the streets & shops that were still open for a while more until all closed one by one. 😛
Before the trip, I had read on TripAdvisor that there is a recommended conveyor belt sushi restaurant here. Since shops were closed, we decided to find this Mawashizushi Wakataka Sushi Restaurant (回し鮨 若貴 at 1-22-5-1F Higashi-ikebukuro 03-5955-8800, opens from 1100-2330 daily). TripAdvisor also recommended that we check out its salmon, so of course we did hehe. There were a handful of customers in the restaurant when we entered, all locals. So this sushi place should be quite good? 😉
We shared a total of 5 plates of sushi together. The Unagi sushi was the best amongst the variety we tried, even better than the Salmon sushi (which was already wonderful to me), probably because it was hot & fresh, so we ordered 2 plates of the Unagi sushi. 😀 The total bill came to JPY 952 (about S$14.70), which is a pretty reasonable price for freshly made sushi. 🙂
It wasn’t easy to locate this restaurant so I should attempt to give you some directions here. From the JR East (Seibu) exit or Ikebukuro Shopping Park exit (#33), walk straight & you should see Sanrio store and JTB on your right. Then turn right at the next immediate junction after JTB to get into a small street. You should see the sushi restaurant opposite Family Mart convenience store on this street.
I kind of enjoyed myself at Ikebukuro though I am not an anime or gaming fan, but it’s the overall feel that this place gives me – busy yet not too congested. Furthermore, we had 2 highlights from here – the Sunshine 60 elevator & the Mawashizushi Wakataka Sushi Restaurant! 🙂