Ikebukuro Shopping Guide

Generally, shopping in Tokyo is easy. Pick a place, walk a ways, turn and pick a shop. There are little shops all over everywhere, and departments for everything in the big box stores. In fact, in Takadanobaba, right next to the Yamanote train station is a store called Big Box. In the first floor of Big Box is a handful of shops (fashions, shoes and accessories). The third floor has an open swimming pool; exercise machines on the fourth; golf and tennis practice on the fifth; and the sixth is dedicated to arcade machines and UFO Catchers. Most department stores have manga, CDs and anime sections (the basements have a huge selection of foods if you get hungry).

But, if you're looking for stores specifically dedicated to anime and manga, then you need to visit places like Akihabara, Nakano or Ikebukuro. I'll focus on Ikebukuro here.

[Note: This shopping guide was last updated in 2010. No guarantee that any of these shops are still in business.]

1) Mandarake and K-Books
2) K-Books
3) Sunshine City
4) K-Books, Lashinbang and Animate
5) Nekorobi and Manga no Mori
6) Manboo
7) Used book stores
8) Caffe Veloce

Getting to Ikebukuro: Ikebukuro is on the Yamanote line, and the Yamanote is the only line in Tokyo that forms a loop. So, as long as you get to the Yamanote, it doesn't matter which direction you go (although, you'll get there faster if you take the shorter part of the loop from where you started from).

Getting out of Ikebukuro: This is the tricky part. Ikebukuro station is huge. You want to follow the signs for the Center Exit, and head for the east side of the station. Keep to the right and follow the tunnels as far as you can. You'll get to a T-intersection with stairs leading up either side. Take the left stairs. This should put you next to a police box (koban).

Cross the street to the left of the police box and turn right. One block down will be a street light, and a little street that branches to the left on the other side of the light. Follow down the little street and you'll see lots of restaurants, game arcades and UFO Catcher shops.

Head down this street about 2-3 blocks, and you'll see a Tokyu Hands store on the right, and the elevated express way right ahead of you.

Mandarake: Cross the street under the express way and go forward about 2 short blocks. On your left will be a little entrance to Mandarake. This place specializes in old manga, old doujinshii (fan-drawn manga) and collector's items.

K-Books: You should also see a staircase down on your left. This will take you to one of the many K-Books shops on this street. You'll know you're in the right place if you see Sunshine City across the street and down the block to your right. The first K-Books (down the stairs) specializes in yaoi. The second, around the corner to your left and one-and-a-half blocks down, contains doujinshii. The third, half-a-block the other direction (across the street from Sunshine City), has LOTS of old manga, collectors' phone cards and other stuff.

Lashinbang: Lashinbang is an anime paraphernalia shop right next door to the K-Books across from Sunshine City. It is spread out over 2 floors.

(Sunshine City is the whitish-brown building in the middle of the photo.)

Sunshine City : This was an experiment paid for by the city of Tokyo to create a self-contained skyscraper. It has all kinds of shops and restaurants in it, but was deemed by critics to be an ugly failure. Even if you don't visit Sunshine City yourself, it's the perfect landmark for getting to K-Books and Animate. If you get lost, just ask someone to point you to Sunshine City.

Animate: Continue past Lashinbang to the end of the block. The entrance is on the corner of the street. There's something like 5 floors to this narrow little building, with anime-related foods on the first floor, and anime, manga, CDs and paraphernalia on the upper floors.

Caffe Veloce: A coffee and cake shop. Worth stopping at if you need a break from all this walking. You should see it across the street from Animate, to the right of Sunshine City.

Manga no Mori: If you backtrack to the Tokyu Hands store, turn to face Tokyu Hands. Now, follow the sidewalk ahead of you along the expressway. At the first cross street, turn right. Manga no Mori will be about 50 feet away. This is a chain shop that carries a lot of manga, anime and CDs. It also has a lot of autographed cards from various manga artists along the walls.

The used book shops: There's a couple of shops that have used manga and DVDs across the street from Manga no Mori.

Manboo: Follow the street in front of Manga no Mori, heading away from the expressway. It will dead-end in a T-intersection. In the building right in front of you is Manboo, an internet café. You can sit and rent manga by the hour, or use the computers to surf the net.

Nekorobi: I saved the best for last. Nekorobi is one of those "only in Japan" places where you can sit in a room filled with cats. Nekorobi is on the third floor of the building next to Manga no Mori (you'll pass this building before you get to Manga no Mori). For $10, you can pet up to 10 cats for 1 hour. You can take photos as long as you don't use a flash. There's a vending machine that serves ice coffee, and soft drinks for free. When I got there, the cats were all sleeping. They only perked up during feeding time.

Summary: Ikebukuro is a great place for getting anime, manga and UFO Catcher dolls. Take the time to check it out if you have the chance. And, don't forget to pet the cats.