Top 10 Unique Bars in Ikebukuro, Tokyo
Ikebukuro, located in the north of Tokyo, is popular among people of all ages, as it has an aquarium, theaters, shopping malls, and much more. There are also a lot of interesting and fun izakaya (Japanese pubs) and other types of drinking spots which can be proudly recommended! Discover the surprising fun of Ikebukuro with these top 10 bizarre bars!
Nov 27 2018 (Sep 09 2020)
1. Tantei Cafe Progress [Ikebukuro]
The first thing that catches your eye as you enter this izakaya is the taped outline of a body on the floor. Has there been a murder here?! This scene may startle you at first, but don’t worry! This is Tantei Cafe Progress, an izakaya where you can meet a detective on duty.
The signature dish of this izakaya is the Crocodile Hand Stew (2,000 yen). Real crocodile hands protrude out of this grotesque-looking dish, which actually has a fantastic reputation for being delicious! Other crocodile dishes that use the tail and the tongue of the animal are also available, as are other rare and unique dishes, such as cactus. Of course, more orthodox food options are also available.
The experiences that are unique to a detective bar are very popular - such as finding a genuine bugging device or having your fingerprints taken (800 yen). If the person in charge is there, then customers can also enjoy getting some prosthetic makeup, such as a cut or a large burn (from 1,000 yen). Experience things that can’t be experienced anywhere else at Tantei Cafe Progress!
2. Alice in an Old Castle [Ikebukuro]
This restaurant is based on the castle of the Queen of Hearts, a character in the Lewis Carroll novel “Alice in Wonderland.” The gorgeous and luxurious atmosphere will no doubt make you feel like you have truly entered into the world of the book itself!
The preparation of all the food served at this restaurant, such as the cute dishes inspired by characters in the novel, is overseen by a chef who began his career working at a hotel. Therefore, all the dishes not only look amazing but also have a deliciously professional taste. A menu inspired by England, the country where Alice was born, is also available. It includes the likes of Fish & Chips (1,000 yen (plus tax)) and English Muffin (from 680 yen (plus tax)).
All of the drinks, which are also inspired by the characters in the novel, have an amazing appearance. Be sure not to miss out on the limited-edition menus! Non-alcoholic cocktails are also available, making the bar a good fit for those who prefer not to consume alcohol.
3. Zanshin [Ikebukuro]
There are lots of sports bars where customers can watch soccer or rugby matches on TV. However, Zanshin is a unique sports bar that specializes in showing kendo (Japanese fencing). Although it is a Japanese-style bar, they only have chair seating and there is no need to take off your shoes.
Customers can drink alcohol while they watch famous kendo matches; however, unlike normal sports bars, cheering the sports players on by shouting or with musical instruments is strictly forbidden. The unique, tense atmosphere of Japanese martial arts can be felt first hand at this bar. The fast and efficient movements of the samurai-like martial artists will no doubt take your breath away.
Just as you might expect from a Japanese-style sports bar, the menu predominantly consists of Japanese cuisine. While drinks such as beer and wine are on the menu, why not fully immerse yourself in the unique environment and enjoy a Japanese drink such as shochu (Japanese distilled liqour) or sake (Japanese rice wine)? The bar even has its very own original brand of shochu for you to try.
4. Penguin Bar [Ikebukuro]
Although Ikebukuro is famous for the Sunshine Aquarium, this establishment is actually a bar. Penguin Bar has 4 cute penguins to greet customers as they arrive.
The penguins are free to swim around their water tank or waddle around the bar as they please. During feeding time, which happens 4 times a day, customers can feed fish to the penguins.
Photographs of penguins can be seen on the walls of the bar, and the surrounding TV screens all show videos of penguins. Don’t forget to try something from the menu as well, which includes options inspired by penguins. The penguin-shaped Frozen Cocktail (1,000 yen (plus tax)) is particularly popular.
5. Chika Kyuden [Higashi Ikebukuro]
Although Akihabara is known for being a sacred place for otaku, Ikebukuro also has Otome Road, a road nicknamed as such due to its abundance of anime and gaming related stores. There are a number of unusual cafes in this area, with Chika Kyuden being one of them.
Waiters cosplaying as butlers serve you at this classy cafe. Apparently, these butlers are actually all cats that have been put under a spell that transformed them into humans, and so the menu offers lots of items with cute cat designs.
Although this cafe restricts the duration that each customer can stay (max. 80 minutes), it doesn't change the fact that you can have a wonderful time there! Enjoy your time here with some authentic French cuisine or with one of the cafe's very own original cocktails.
*This place closed down in 5, 2019.
6. Kurand Sake Market [Ikebukuro]
Do you like sake? If so, get down to Kurand Sake Market, where they have an all-you-can-drink sake option, allowing customers to drink over 100 different varieties of sake for an unlimited amount of time. Sake lovers won’t be able to get enough of this izakaya! Besides sake, other all-you-can-drink options include drinks such as beer and fruit wine.
The interesting point of this izakaya is that customers are free to bring in their own food. There are no limitations to this rule whatsoever - customers are free to buy food from the nearby convenience store or department store and bring it into the izakaya to eat!
This izakaya also serves more unusual sake options, such as chocolate or kiwi sake. Maybe those who aren’t so keen on normal sake will be able to find one that they like here. However, remember not to drink too much!
7. Sakura Cafe [Ikebukuro]
If you are tired of eating Japanese food during your trip to Japan, or just wish to mingle with people from around the world, then this is the cafe to visit! It is a cafe attached to the backpacker hotel, Sakura Hotel. A wide range of people from across the world come to this hotel - and this cafe - thus making it a great place to meet new people.
This cafe is very particular about only using domestically-produced ingredients in their food. The menu consists of both Japanese cuisine and regional cuisine from around the world. The most popular item on the menu has to be the Hamburger Gratin (1,280 yen), in which a whole beef patty is placed inside a hearty gratin.
The extensive drink menu includes over 60 varieties of beer from around the world! Hungarian or Swedish-style mulled wine is also available, as well as rare drinks such as a type of juice that is usually drunk during Ramadan, the Muslim holiday.
8. MusicBar LANDS ROCK [Ikebukuro]
This popular rock music bar feels more like a club. There are no restrictions to age, so everyone is welcome to enjoy themselves here!
The menu predominantly consists of light snacks such as meat jerky and nuts. The pickles are all homemade by the owner and have just the right amount of acidity. They go great with alcohol!
The bar has a massive selection of music, from hard rock to death metal. Feel free to make a request if there is a particular song that you would like to hear. The extensive drink menu also includes official beers by popular rock bands.
9. Colorsol Resort [Ikebukuro]
The interior of Colorsol Resort feels like a tropical resort, and they even employ a world-champion bartender! The cocktail-making show performed by the world-champion bartender is so magnificent that it will take your breath away.
A wide variety of alcoholic drinks are available. If you aren’t sure what to order, just discuss your preferences with the bartender. They will make a drink specifically to match your requirements. All soft drinks can be refilled for free.
Although held at irregular intervals, the cocktail-making show held by the bartender is a truly breathtaking experience! The bartender breathes fire from their mouth as they make the drinks. Colorsol Resort can also assist with surprise parties, thus making it ideal for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.
10. Kamen Rider the Diner [Ikebukuro]
Customers can immerse themselves in the world of the very popular TV program, Kamen Rider, here. The mysterious atmosphere inside is designed around the secret base of the villain, Shocker.
Lots of merchandise is available to see here, including the life-size Kamen Rider statues, small figurines, belts from past Riders, and so on. Fans of the TV program just won’t be able to get enough of this place! Just ask the staff if you wish to wear the belt for a commemorative photograph. Go back to being a child again and enjoy this place to the fullest!
The menu includes lots of items which have been specifically designed around the characters of Kamen Rider. The food here is delicious - maybe down to the fact that this bar has collaborated with Pasela Resorts, a popular karaoke joint known for having good food.
This article introduced you to some of the more unique places to drink in Ikebukuro. All of the places introduced are near the station and easy to access. Why not visit Ikebukuro during your next visit to Japan and experience for yourself some of the unique bars and izakaya of the area?
The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.