Although I have lived near Ikebukuro for some time, I never quite got used to its streets and train exits. Still, I know that it is famous for cat cafes and the Sunshine City complex with the Sunshine 60 skyscraper, once having been the tallest building in Japan. I also remember how the large Hello Kitty shop nearby fascinated me on my first visit to Japan.
Now I sometimes like going shopping there, just because it seems a little bit less crowded than Shinjuku or the other famous shopping areas. (And I can even find (women) shoes in my size in Ikebukuro`s Marui department store, – something that is really rare for me in Japan!) Also, after some research on the internet, I found that actually there are some interesting cafes, too, hidden in the backstreets of Ikebukuro (but not impossible to find in the days of Google maps ;)).
One of them is CAFE PAUSE (http://cafepause.jp/), a relaxing café with a simple interior, which we visited yesterday. Apparently the café is also used as an art gallery, but unfortunately there was no art displayed when we were there. We had to wait a bit to get a seat, but it wasn`t too long. I also realized that although the café was full of people it was still quite enough to have a good talk and take a break from Tokyo`s usual hustle and bustle on Saturdays. I had a café latte and a chocolate cheese cake that, even if it was on the pricey side, was really good.
Another thing that Ikebukuro is probably famous for, is the Toden Arakawa train, the only streetcar you can see in Tokyo. As its last station is “Waseda”, the university where I did my exchange year as a student, seeing it brought back many memories 🙂