Ikebukuro

Coordinates: 35°43′48″N 139°42′40″E / 35.73°N 139.71111°E / 35.73; 139.71111 Ikebukuro (池袋?) is a commercial and entertainment district in Toshima, Tokyo, Japan. Toshima ward offices, Ikebukuro station, and several shops, restaurants, and enormous department stores are located within city limits.

At the center of Ikebukuro is the train and subway station, a huge urban gathering shared by the JR East lines, the Seibu Ikebukuro Line and the Tōbu Tōjō Line. It is one of the main commuter hubs in the western Yamanote area of Tokyo. Ikebukuro Station is the second busiest station in Japan, second only to Shinjuku Station.

Around the station are the Seibu and Tōbu department stores. Seibu, written with the characters for "West" and "Musashi (province)" 西武, is on the east end of the station and Tōbu, written with the characters for "East" and "Musashi" 東武, is on the west end. East of the station, on the site of Sugamo Prison, stands Sunshine 60, which was Tokyo's tallest building at the time of its construction. Adjacent to Sunshine City, on Meiji-Dori is the Toyota Amlux Building which houses the Toyota showroom. Otome Road, a leading shopping area for otaku products aimed at women, is located nearby. Marui and Don Quijote also have department stores in the area. The principal electronics retailer in Ikebukuro is Bic Camera. There is a small pleasure district located in Nishi-Ikebukuro, similar to Shinjuku's Kabukichō.

The old village of Ikebukuro stood to the northwest of the station. Most of the area on which modern Ikebukuro is built was historically known as Sugamo. In the Taishō and Shōwa periods, the relatively low land prices attracted artists and foreign workers, who lent a somewhat cosmopolitan atmosphere to Ikebukuro. Until October 1, 1932 when Toshima ward was established, the area was an independent municipality of Ikebukuro-mura (池袋村).

The kanji for Ikebukuro literally means pond bag. Outside the west exit of Ikebukuro station near an entrance to the Fukutoshin Line is a small plaque explaining three origins of the name Ikebukuro. The first is that in the northeastern part of the village there was a lake shaped like someone holding a bag. The second is that there was once a large number of lakes in the area of various sizes (thus implying a bag full of lakes). The third is that long ago a turtle came out of the lake carrying a bag on its back.

There is a small statue of an owl located near the center of the city called Ikefukurō-zō (いけふくろう像), meaning lake owl statue. It is a play on words from the alternative meaning of "fukuro" as "owl" (although owl is pronounced with a long final "oh", rather than a short "o" in the word "fukuro" for bag). The owl statue has become a famous meeting place along the lines of the statue of Hachikō located outside of Shibuya Station.

Read more about Ikebukuro:  Education, Crime and Safety, In Popular Culture

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