Chiba Days 34 - The Ikebukuro Stroll

Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition of Chiba Days! This time, we take a different path from the usual weekly Akihabara trip for a visit to Ikebukuro. That is right, Ikebukuro, the second otaku-haven located in Tokyo. Only this one is catered more towards the female-demographic rather than the heavy male-dominated genres that fill the streets of Akihabara and Nakano. 

That being said, this certainly does not mean that male otaku(s) would not have any business wandering around Ikebukuro either. There are various stores around town such as Lashinbang and Animate which cater to the wider audience. Not only that, series which are equally popular among men and women such as Love Live will have no shortage of merchandise on sale. Take for example these two Dia towels which were selling for a reasonable price, well under 1000 Yen. 

If you are going to be wandering through the streets of Ikebukuro though, please do remain vigilant when planning to enter hobby stores. Many of the hobby stores, especially those along Otome Road, are catered specifically to the female audience. The store even makes it amply clear by having a sign outside designating "female interest".

Problem is, many of these signs are often written in Japanese and unless you understand Japanese or some form of kanji, these signs would mostly go unnoticed. Fortunately, if you even have a slight interest in anime, the signs would not be necessary as the outer facade of each store clearly displays exactly which demographic it is catering to. Haikyuu, Kuroko's Basket, Free and several male idol anime predominate the store fronts of Ikebukuro as would other series popular among men be on the streets of Akiba.

Worry not though as there is no hard an fast rule that men are not allowed to visit these stores. You would just look very out of place, that is all. If only once, I would certainly recommend everyone to check out the stores regardless of gender. Cramped as they may be, everything seems to be more neatly arranged and the stores notably brighter when compared to similar stores in Akihabara and Nakano. 

More than just female-interest, Ikebukuro is also the home to several very good finds. If you are willing to spend the time digging through the piles of trinkets and accessories, you are bound to find something rare and affordable! Because of Ikebukuro's relative isolation from other hobby centers, prices here are often very reasonable. Rather ironically, merchandise for the series popular among men often sell for a lower price compared to those popular among women. 

Many foreign fans of anime and mange often pass on Ikebukuro during their first trips to Japan and I would hardly blame them for it. Ikebukuro itself is located relatively far away from the city center and there is not much in terms of tourist attractions when compared to other parts of Tokyo. But, if you ever find yourself with some extra time in Tokyo or are visiting for the second time, I can wholly recommend paying Ikebukuro a visit.

Despite not expecting too much from Ikebukuro, I ended up walking out with a rather substantial haul on my end too! More on that in the coming haul post. If you have any questions about Ikebukuro and its hobby lifestyle, I would love to hear them in the comments section below. Until the next time, thank you so much for reading and have yourself a wonderful day ahead!


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