Isha’s Adventures in Japan – Sunshine City

After going non-stop for the first few days upon arriving to Japan, I hit a slump. There were so many places and things that I wanted to do but the real question was where to go next?

I did a Google search one morning of Things to do in Tokyo and Sunshine City came up. Sunshine City is located in Ikebukuro, Toshima, Tokyo. It is a building complex that includes the Sunshine 60 building with an observatory located at the top, the Ancient Orient Museum, Sunshine Aquarium, a planetarium, a Prince Hotel, Namco Namja Town, J World, a convention centre, theatre, and a shopping mall. Basically everything.

We couldn’t take the Yamanote line, which we had passes for, to get there. Thank gawd the ticket machines have an English button. While walking under ground to get to the Tokyo Metro, Seibu Line, we passed numerous shops like L’Occtaine, Godiva etc. Another one of the things I love about Japan is their rail stations. The major train stations like Shibuya and Tokyo tend to be set up like underground malls. You can literally go there just to shop and eat, without even taking a single train.

It was a long but pleasant ride to the Ikebukuro stop. Once there, we followed the Sunshine City exit signs through the underground walkway. There was even a moving walkway half way through, like the ones found in the airport. There was a large crowd that was headed the same way we were, so we figured we were on the right track. Once we actually exited and went outside, the crowd immediately doubled in size. Then, there it was. Sunshine City! I thought there might be a yellow brick road. There wasn’t….

It is amazing to me how Japan has so many shopping districts but each is it’s own entity with it’s own vibe. I’ve traveled a bit so though I know I am biased towards Japan, I can’t think of any place else that I’ve been to that comes close.

The first store that caught my eye as soon as we got there was….drumroll please….Hello Kitty! I don’t even know why I did that drum roll. HK is practically an Idol in Japan. This would be our 3rd HK store in four days. Of course we went in but I was on my bestest behavior and only got a few things. – _ –

Our next stop was something to eat cause I was starving! What else is new? We went to Il Vigore and got some pasta which was hella tasty. The fact that they had a smoking section, that wasn’t smoky at all, totally made my day. I didn’t really want a cig but sat there and smoked one anyway, since I would NEVER be able to do that in Boston. EVER.

After eating, we headed up to the Sunshine Aquarium. The design was beautiful. I saw fish I’d never seen before, which is totally the point of going to an aquarium but most places don’t seem to get that concept. One of the fish that I saw was an Alligator Gar. For those of you who watch Jeremy Wade on River Monsters, this is his dream fish. Watching the horrendous size of it through the glass as it swam past my head was totally different from seeing him fishing for it on tv. Jeremy, you da’ man. I don’t think I’ll ever put a toe in a river. EVER.

Most of the fish were native to Japan and were either really weird looking, really big, really tiny, really creepy or really cute.  After we walked through the downstairs part of the aquarium we walked upstairs where they had the open tanks where the presumably safe fish were located.  It is also where the gift shop was. Ahhh. The gift shop. Where even the scary looking fish were transformed into cute plushies. Of course there were Hello Kitty items too. Much to my wallet’s horror.

From the gift shop, we went outside, thinking that was it. Nope. The sea lions, penguins, pelicans and a few other furries were outside. Sunshine aquarium is huge. I really wasn’t expecting to see as many different things as we did. I was very impressed and was in full paparazzi mode the whole time. It was also CLEAN. No dead-fish-out-in-the-sun-for-a-week smell. It took us a few hours to make it through the whole thing, inside and out. Plus they also had a show for the kiddies, but we didn’t stay for that cause it was time for dessert. Off we went to a cafe we’d seen on the way to the aquarium. This one had food too but it was the desserts that had caught our attention. Muhaha.

After dessert we headed back to the hotel. I was pooped and falling asleep on the train in Japan was definitely not on my ‘to do’ list. All in all it was an awesome day. If you are in Tokyo or going to Tokyo, Sunshine City is a must. It is very possible to go there for a few days and still not see everything. I will definitely re-visit on my next trip.

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