The first time we went to Tokyo, we stayed in Ikebukuro and so lots of my first Tokyo memories are centred around there. We were on an organised tour so free time on our own was scarce and the only area we got to know at all well was Ikebukuro. One afternoon that we had free in Tokyo we decided to go and search out the Sanrio store and Sunshine City and we emerged hours later into darkness having pretty much gone insane from kawaii overdose. Take note, Sunshine City is a bit overwhelming.
Sunshine City is a huge 60 floor skyscraper (Tokyo’s tallest at the time it was built) with an observatory on the top floor, plus an aquarium, a planetarium, an Egyptian museum, a food theme park, a hotel and, two connected shopping malls. The malls are named alpa and ALTA just to be extra confusing so make sure to pick up an English floor guide or you could be wandering around for hours. Here’s a few shops to look out for.
One of my special favourites is Dagashiya, a tiny little sweet shop that sells beloved childhood sweets at very cheap prices. You’ll find all kinds of cute and bizarre candy and snacks in adorable packaging, plus a few toys and character goods.
There’s also a branch of Donguri Kyowakoku, a shop that sells everything Ghibli you could ever want – catbus plant pot? 4ft Jiji? Totoro acorns? It’s all here. They even have a bus stop outside with Totoro waiting for the catbus.
More toys of every persuasion can be found in the huge branch of Toys R Us with everything from the usual plushies and stationery to furikake (rice sprinkles) and intricate boxed toys all plastered with your favourite characters.
There’s plenty more too. Plush and homeware fans should get to Passport, where you’ll find Hannari Tofu, Alpacasso and their own adorable characters. Look out for the Pokemon Center, Sanrio Vivitix, Daiso, Kutsushitaya sock shop, Village Vanguard (for crazy gifts) and retro brand Swimmer, plus there are loads of cafes and restaurants.
How to get there
Sunshine City is close to the JR Ikebukuro station and is signposted. Pokemon Center, Sanrio Vivitix, Toys R Us, Daiso, Moomins, 3Coins, Kutsushitaya and Loft (small branch) are in alpa. Passport, Swimmer and Village Vanguard are in ALTA. Check the links for floor guides.
Last updated: 24 August 2016